Hora Cero
Hora Cero

By the end of the decade of the 1940's in Argentina the capitals of the publishing Abril. At first the idea of the company was to publish magazines with Disney characters. But soon its director, Cesare Civhea, felt that there was a potential market for adult comic strips. Then the model decides to form a union copying North American. Thus Sudameris is born, that will incorporate to outstanding Italian artists, giving a initial impulse to the comic strip in ours country. In those years, Oesterheld collaborated for that publishing house in the collection "Bolsillheos" infantile books. Civhea proposed to him to write scripts for comic strips.

The first trabjos were for Cinemisterio, a weekly magazine that combined photo-novelas of adventures with comic strips and folletines. There, throughout 1951, Oesterheld wrote three scripts. But it was in number 176 of Misterix, the magazine more hard of editorial, where he iniated the saga of Bull Rocket. This was its first important character and of long duration. Without leaving his work as scriptwriter for Abril, Oesterheld founded Frontera Editorial. Under that seal he published in 1956, in novel form, successful stories featuring his creations Sergeant Kirk and Bull Rocket. They left nine books of each character in bi-weekly appearances. This was done with the aim of competing with Bruguera Editorial, that then published second rate science fiction novels, as well as war and western stories. The books of Oesterheld sold well. In order to take advantage of this commercial success the distributor, Machi, suggested that Osterheld should start marketing comic strips.

In 1957 he broke his contact with Abril, although his work continued to appear in Abril editions until the end of the year. According to his own Oesterheld words the end of that relation occurred in a friendly way: "We met with Civhea in the street, we were going to take a coffee and tell him that I wanted to remove my magazine. We negotiated on the characters. Abril got Bull Rocket and I got Sergeant Kirk. We distributed the lesser characters."

Héctor G. Oesterheld, author of most of the scripts (continued in some cases by his brother Jorge), contacted the best artists of the day: Solano Lopez, Carlos V. Roume, Alberto Breccia, and Arturo del Castilio, the Italians Hugo Pratt and Ivo Pavone, Daniel Haupt and Jorge Moliterni among others. In March 1957 their work started to appear, in the oblong formatted comics Hora Cero and Frontera.

In May 1957 Oesterheld published the last monthly Hora Cero, and the first weekly edition of Hora Cero was issued 4 September 1957, the last one, (issue 116), on the 18 November 1959. Hora Cero Extra, with 64 pages and a larger format, began in April 1958 first bi-monthly, soon to become bi-weekly, and later to return to monthly. In these publications, Oesterheld and his team of artists renewed the Argentinian comic strip. Basically, the change took place by abandoning the North American model of the adventure strip. They appear in gray tones between "buenos" and "malos", and the infallible hero was replaced by a character faced with ethical questions.

In fact, the notion of the solitary hero is elliminated and collective protagonism takes relief. Comic strips characters became less stiff and little credible. The fantasy and the probability to each other stop being contradictory. If several of histories pass well in distant geographies to ours, another newness is the location of history in local landscapes. Wheitn sorts as western or the science fiction is managed to draw for the barrier of the convencionalismos. These questions appear exemplified in the totality of comic strips published in those years. In 1960, in spite of the sales, that arrived at the 90,000 issues in the good times, Hora Cero and Frontera are struck by financial problems. One of the causes was the strong competition of Mexican comics, like those of Recreational Editions and Publishing Society American. Although these products were of low quality as far as their contents, they prevailed by their colorful graphics and smaller cover price. The giant US Dell company were also flooding the market with Spanish language editions of their US titles.

On the other hand, Editorial Frontera began to lose its more outstanding artists, who were tempted by the money that was offered by the large publishing houses of European and North American. Arturo del Castillo and Solano Lopez began to draw for English publications, Hugo Pratt returned to Italy and Breccia began to collaborate for European studios. The exodus produced a spare part and entered to work for publishing house one new litter of talented artists as Estevez, Carlos Vogt and Néstor Olivera. But the company had fallen in a financial well from which he would not recover.

In March of 1961 Oesterheld Emilio passes the titles to editoria (Emilio Ramírez) for payment of debts. As well, this one goes to Sees and Reads in the last plot of 1962. Still in 1963 they leave the last numbers of Hora Cero and Frontera, a deformation of the time of splendor. Hora Cero finished in May 1963 with the publication of issue 77 of Hora Cero Extra. On the other hand, Oesterheld said that "It was a disaster not only the financial handling, but the administrative one. With time I was finding out some things. The imprentero (Emilio Ramirez) did one clandestine edition that sold by his account. In that time, my brother had to take care of all that but did not give supply. Any editorial of spread of comic strips, I know he positively, today takes care to pay to him the pay to a person who goes to the press to the edition. We, officially, we arrived at a high sale that was from eighty to ninety thousands unhe. Surely there would be the same pirateado. And above, imprentero, very astute, was to us becoming indebted more and more. The sale he reached to pay, but not as much. And thus our project went away drowning economically. When they began to come good prices from Europe touching to the artists could not resist. By bad handling, nothing else. Because when Hora Cero began, they were paid better prices than Abril, compared to the best prices of Europa".


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