Original title: Corto Maltese
Characters: Corto Maltese, Rasputin, Golden Mouth, Jeremiah, Steiner, Cush, Venexiana Stevenson
Author: Hugo Pratt
Year: 1967 mm
Gender: Comic Book Adventure
Recommended age: Teenagers aged 13 to 19
The character of Corto Maltese was conceived by the great Hugo Pratt, undisputed master of Italian and international comics. Hugo Pratt, former author of successful comics such as Sgt. Kirk, Criss Kenton and many others, with the character of Corto Maltese reached full popularity and artistic maturity, creating adventurous and romantic stories that have become true masterpieces in the world comics scene. Just think of the story "A ballad of the salty sea", published in the magazine" Kirk ", where Corto Maltese makes his first appearance. We find him in the first cartoons, shipwrecked in the southern seas of the Pacific Ocean, aboard a raft, with a beard uncultivated, thrown into the sea after a mutiny by the sailors. He is found and treated by the pirate Rasputin, a deserter from the Tsarist army who will always be his enemy of a thousand adventures.
After shaving, the face of the character we know finally appeared. Corto Maltese he always wears a cap, a captain's uniform and a gold earring in his left ear. His adventures can take place in all parts of the world, as Corto Maltese
has a nomadic spirit. The story of Corto Maltese begins on the island of Malta, when in 1887 he was born in Valletta to an Andalusian gypsy and an English sailor. His mother Nina de Gibraltar, was a gypsy prostitute, who transmitted to him the love for freedom and part of the gypsy culture, where the awareness of one's destiny made through the reading of cards or the hand, represents a recurring theme that accompanied Corto Maltese throughout his childhood. Corto Maltese was born strangely without the line of luck along his left hand and this for his mother represents a serious misfortune,
Corto Maltese then with a very sharp knife, a deep scar is drawn along the line of luck on his hand, as if to want to challenge fate in order to be the author of his luck alone. His father, almost completely absent from Corto Maltese's life, gave him the taste of wandering in distant seas and that love for legends and enchanted places typical of the Celtic tradition. Corto Maltese he also received education from a rabbi of Malta, "friend" of his mother and this allowed him to read several adventure books such as "Moby Dick", "Treasure Island", "Robinson Crousuè" and others. In his adventures in distant seas he will also have the opportunity to meet some great writers, such as Jack London. What fascinates about the figure of this character is his imperturbability in the face of events that see him more as a spectator than a protagonist, when for example he is involved in situations of violence, such as a shooting or a fist fight, he reacts in turn to both fire and type of violence suffered by his attackers, showing however a lucidity and a calm as if these events did not involve him to the end. It almost seems that he already knows the spirit that moves the human soul and therefore is not surprised by events. In many of his adventures a leading role is played by the characters who appear from time to time in his stories, whether they are born from the imagination of Hugo Pratt, or whether they are historical figures that really existed such as the mythical Red Baron , infallible World War I pilot or Stalin himself. Among the important female figures we remember Pandora (appeared in "a ballad of the salty sea"), for which Corto Maltese
nurtures a deep feeling. Very important figures are also Dr. Steiner, Madame Java, the fortune teller Morgana Bantam, the gangaceiro Tiro Fisso.
After "A ballad of the salty sea" it was the turn of "Corte Sconta called Arcana"from 1974 set in Venice. This story was inspired by a legend in which it was said that before entering a courtyard, you had to open seven doors, each named after a devil. The story is halfway between the dream and the Reale with talks in Venice between Corto Maltese and her friend Bocca Dorata and in Hong Kong between Corto Maltese and his friend Vita Lunga. In this bizarre story where he also appears Gabriele D'Annunzio, between fascists and carabinieri at a certain point to further complicate the situation a Corto Maltese appears a kind of Genius of Aladdin's magic lantern, which however resembles Rasputin, this was contained inside a sealed container with the coat of arms of the Lion of San Marco. In reality, the genius says his name is Saud Khalula and shows a tiredness in ... drawing !? Perhaps this is a gimmick by Hugo Pratt in order to iterloquire with his character, disguising himself as a Genie of the lamp. This perhaps we will never know, because trying to understand the intricate and unpredictable world of this "Genius" is practically impossible.
Up "The Celtics"published by Bompiani in 1980 we find three different stories by Corto Maltese all set during the First World War, between spirits and legends of the English and Irish tradition. The first is" Concerto in o minor for harp and nitroglycerin ", set in Ireland during the First World War, where between legend and reality he will meet Bansee, the warrior woman. In the story "Dream of a midwinter morning" the spirits of English legends, such as the fairy Morgana, the magician Merlin, Oberon and others, outraged by the threat of invasion by Germany during the First World War, against their country, push Corto Maltese to action, but rather than being a war between nations, our character will find himself at the center of a struggle between the English spirits and the ancient Teutonic divinities. "Burlesque and no between Zuydcoote and bray-dunes" is also set during the First World War between legend and historical reality.
In 1989 published by Rizzoli comes out "Helvetic"where we find the story"Alchemical rose", set in Switzerland. Here our character will meet Dr. Steiner and the well-known writer Hermann Hesse. As always, it is a very poetic and dreamlike story, where the watercolor line of Pratt's drawings is as impalpable as a dream. The title" Rosa Alchemica "is given by the fact that Corto Maltese gives a 15-year-old girl a pink dress from Thuringia that does not exist on the market, as it is a nuance obtained by formulating a particular magic word "alchemical".
Among the various publications in comic books we remember "Youth"published by Lizard in 1996 where some episodes of the youth of Corto Maltese, witness of the conflict between Japan and the United States for the interests on the Pacific in the company of Jack London and where in 1910 he became second officer on the SS Bostonian, a ship for transporting livestock. Here he met Reed and Pierce, two American university students who, after Reed's escape from the ship, managed to clear Pierce of the murder charge against his missing friend. This gesture was dear to Corto Maltese who won the antipathy of several American generals, therefore he stopped sailing on that ship and devoted himself to smuggling between the Antilles and Brazil. These stories will also shed light on the first meeting between Corto Maltese and Rasputin.
One of Hugo Pratt's latest masterpieces is "Tango"published by Lizard in 1998. The story is set in Argentina in 1910, when Corto Maltese is in Boca, a suburb of Buenos Aires on the Riachuelo river among Italian immigrants, sailors, thieves and tango dancers. In fact, they arrive in this country all the best known tango dancers with whom Corto Maltese will befriend. in this story he will meet none other than the billionaire Onassis. Some tables are real masterpieces, for construction and narration of the scenes.
What amazes and fascinates in Hugo Pratt's stories is its extraordinary historical documentation, which helps to make real even the legends and fairy-tale places, theater of the stories of Corto Maltese.
Corto Maltese's character and images are copyright Hugo Pratt and the rights holders are used here for information and dissemination purposes.
Video by Corto Maltese