"When I want to relax, I read essays by Engels. When I want something more serious, I read Corto Maltese."Corto Maltese
— Umberto Eco
is a graphic novel series by Hugo Pratt, and one of the most famous examples of the French-Belgian comics school at its best (even though the author was actually Italian). The best-known adventure, Una Ballata Del Mare Salato
(The Ballad of the Salt Sea
) made Le Monde
's "100 Books of the Century" list.
The title character is a fictional adventurer active during the years before, during and after WW1. Born of a sailor from Cornwall and a fortune-teller from Gibraltar, Corto Maltese has a lifelong case of wanderlust and travels across the world as a gentleman of fortune, treasure seeker and occasional pirate. His recurring sidekick is a psychopathic Russian named Rasputin (who coincidentally does look like the historical Rasputin).
An Animated Adaptation was released in 2002, Corto Maltese et la Cour Secrète des Arcanes
, and Canal+ adapted six of the shorter stories into the 30-minute episode format too.
If you've never read the comics but the name sounds familiar, it's because Frank Miller used the character's name as that of a fictional country in The Dark Knight Returns
, which was in itself given a Shout-Out in the '89 Batman
film as well as the Arrow
A new Corto Maltese adventure, by Blacksad author Juan Diaz Canales and Ruben Pellejero, was released in 2015, Under The Midnight Sun
. The series can be purchased in the States via IDW Publishing: Under The Sign of Capricorn
, Beyond The Windy Isles
, and Celtic Tales