Monday, December 6, 2010

Foreign Favorites: Corto Maltese

Created by the talented Italian artist, Hugo Pratt, Corto Maltese became one of the most popular adventure strips in France and Belgium. A spin-off from an earlier story, Corto Maltese first debuted in the French weekly Pif-Gadget on April 1, 1970. For a salty tale of the sea, Corto is an unfortunate captain without a ship, a man without a country who always sides with the rebels and oppressed in every battle. Set around 1910, his escapades lead him from South America, to Europe to North Africa, fighting in numerous conflicts, seeking treasure, and often trying to save his skin from the magic and witchcraft that permeates the heavy atmosphere of the strip. The supporting cast such as the pirate captain Rasputin, Irish lass Banshee, Professor Steiner, and the lovely Venexiana Stevenson are just a interesting as the main character when they appear in these swashbuckling episodes. After four years, Pratt decided to move on to other projects, but continued to return to the feature, now being published in a full color format for its many reprints. Translated into a half dozen languages, Corto Maltese proved to be a popular figure around the world, inspiring extensive studies on the seafarer and an animated series for television.

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