Andy Pruna

THE STORY OF PAP MAGAZINE

In Argentina in the mid 80’s, after my documentary film, Había Una Vez en el Sur, became a huge national success and shot me to stardom among the Argentine youth, it suddenly seemed like every kid wanted to be a wildlife explorer.  As a result, I was asked to produce a series for television where I’d travel to different areas throughout the Argentine country, studying and showing the fauna and flora, much as the documentary film had done with Patagonia. The show would be geared toward elementary school children and would have a monthly magazine companion.  

The magazine was named PAP, (Producciones Andy Pruna), and it was to cover various nature and wildlife topics through editorials and pictures.  But, the real gem of the endeavor came when a good friend of mine, comic book writer, Jorge Morain, and his brother, graphic artist Mario, suggested including a comic book-like insert in which Andy Pruna, the protagonist, would undergo monthly adventures.  The comics came to be called The Adventures of Andy Pruna, and, while some of the depicted exploits were true and some generously exaggerated, they became hugely popular.

PAP magazine grew in esteem and distribution every month until after two years, Argentina entered into political turmoil and the Falkland Islands War (Guerra de las Malvinas).  The new reality of the country marked the end of PAP and also my departure from Argentina.

Included here are a couple of the stories from PAP, including the fine work of my two friends, Jorge and Mario, to whom I will always be grateful for their endless talent and creativity.

CLIMBING IGUAZU FALLS, a story board that was never published

Climbing Iguazu Falls in the Brazilian/Argentina border was part of a documentary film about the northern part of Argentina and its wildlife. Behind these falls, there lives a brave small bird called the Great Dusky Swift.  What is unusual about this bird is that it spends its entire life flying except when nesting because it has chosen to nest in the rocks behind the falls.  The water rushing over the edge creates an arc between the actual water and the rock wall. The Swifts, in an incredible show of acrobatic flying, actually penetrate the wall of water at high speed and then come to a full stop before hitting the rock wall.  In order to film these unique birds, we had no other choice but to climb to the top of the falls, and then laterally climb down behind them, a most dangerous and slippery, but exciting endeavor.

THE BAHAMAS ISLANDS

The Bahamas Island is the story of an adventure that took place in Grand Bahamas Island. A native had told me that there was a hidden cave that I should see, one that had its entrance at the base of a tree.  According to this man, this secret cave had never been visited before.  Armed with curiosity, I set out to find this mysterious cave, which I thought might just be a blue hole of sorts.  Blue holes are a somewhat common phenomenon in the Bahamas and occurred when, millions of years ago, limestone caverns formed and were slowly submerged by the rising sea levels, leaving these as present underwater caves.

The cave turned out to be hidden underneath a large tree and accessible only by climbing down into it through a hole about 6 feet in diameter.  This I did by tying a rope to the tree and sliding down several feet until reaching the surface of the water.  Looking down at the surface, what struck me the most was the incredible visibility.  This was filtered and completely undisturbed water.  But, it was once I went underwater that the cave opened up into a gigantic chamber full of magnificent formations.  At about fifteen feet deep I felt a significant temperature change to much colder water and could clearly see, I was no longer even in fresh water.  I knew this because around me I was staring at all sorts of salt-water fish, which could only mean that somewhere deeper within there had to be an opening to the sea. 

It was after a second trip, equipped with air tanks, that I discovered the many ways in which this cave was indeed like another world.  Since then, I’ve never been back, but I have a feeling that if I did, this underwater world would still be as pristine as ever.

Bimini

The story of PAP MagazineIn the mid 80s I started a monthly magazine publication in Argentina directed towards children of the primary school age. The idea came about as a result of the extraordinary success obtained by a documentary film documentary I had produced a few years earlier depicting the flora and fauna of Patagonia, Habia Una Vez en el Sur. The film propelled me to a super-star status with the Argentine youth, who suddenly all wanted to become explorers. As a result I was asked to produce a series of television shows about the wild areas of Argentina as well as a magazine. I called the magazine PAP for Producciones Andy Pruna or Andy Pruna Productions. Amongst the various subjects or articles that appeared in the magazine a very good friend and comic book writer, Jorge Morain and his brother Mario an extraordinarily talented artist suggested including a series of comic book style stories as told by me and which they would call The Adventures of Andy Pruna. These stories were based on my experiences and in some cases the experiences of others. Typical of comic books, some of these adventures though based on true stories are somewhat exaggerated, but they became extremely popular while the magazine lasted.

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RIO ABAJO

Río Abajo is based on the figure of Ramón “Moncho” Otazo, an Argentine explorer and ex-professional boxer who is a legend in the Chaco area of Argentina. This comic book version describes one of his many adventures navigating through the River Teuco on a primitive raft.

EL RESCATE DEL VILLARINO

The ‘rescue’ of the Villarino is the story of the salvaging of the anchor and propeller of historical ship Villarino in Patagonian waters. The Villarino was a British-built steam ship that became one of the first ships commissioned by the Argentine Navy. Its main claim to fame, however, came when it carried the remains of Argentina’s founding father, General San Martín, to Argentina thirty years after his death in France where he had been exiled. Several years later the Villarino sank in a storm near Camarones, off the coast of Patagonia. This event took place in 1976 while I was in Argentina, and the recovery was performed by a group of local divers from Puerto Madryn including my father in law, Doctor Nestor Moré.