Hugo Eugenio Pratt (June 15, 1927 – August 20, 1995) was an Italian comic book creator who was known for combining strong storytelling with extensive historical research on works such as Corto Maltese. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2005.
Born in Rimini in Romagna to Rolando Pratt and Evelina Genero, Hugo Pratt spent most of his childhood in Venice in a very cosmopolitan family environment. His paternal grandfather Joseph was of English origin. He was also related to the actor Boris Karloff, whose birth name was William Henry Pratt. In 1937, Hugo Pratt moved with his mother to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), joining his father who was working there following the conquest of that country by Benito Mussolini's Italy. Pratt's father, a professional Italian soldier, was captured in 1941 by British troops and in late 1942, died from disease as a prisoner of war. The same year, Hugo Pratt and his mother were interned in a prison camp at Dirédaoua where he would buy comics from guards and later was sent back to Italy by the Red Cross. In 1944, he was at risk of being executed as SS troops had mistaken him for a South African spy.
After the war, Pratt moved to Venice where he organized entertainment for the Allied troops. Later Pratt joined the 'Venice Group' with other Italian cartoonists, including Alberto Ongaro and Mario Faustinelli. Their magazine Asso di Picche, launched in 1945 as Albo Uragano, concentrated on adventure comics. The magazine scored some success and published works by young talents like Dino Battaglia, Rinaldo D'Ami and Giorgio Bellavitis. His character Asso di Picche ("Ace of Spades") was a success, mainly in Argentina, where Pratt was invited in 1949...
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