We’ve long been among the most vocal supporters of getting a proper US edition of Corto Maltese our. Hugo Pratt’s adventure masterpiece is one of the cornerstones of the Eurocomix tradition and one of the most beautiful and evocative comics of all times, period. Fans were excited in 2012 when Rizzoli put out a color edition, but it turned out to be made from crappy scans that made the artwork look awful. That it was done with the French publishers full permission made it all even sadder.
But now someone who knows what he’s doing is in charge: IDW is putting out a NEWLY translated, NEWLY LETTERED version of the story in the ORIGINAL B&W size. There are tons of versions of Corto floating around out there in many different sizes and formats, but Mullaney has gotten Toth and Caniff down, so hopefully he’s the man for Corto:
“We intend to change all that,” says EuroComics editor Dean Mullaney. “Pratt deserves a first-rate American edition and America deserves Corto Maltese. We’re proud to publish Hugo Pratt as the first graphic novelist in our EuroComics imprint; we’re similarly pleased to publish him alongsideMilton Caniff and Alex Toth, two important artistic influences on Pratt, from our long-standing Library of American Comics line.”
The first book will be out in December and print a selection of short Corto stories, with an eye to a complete line of 12 volumes. SIGN ME UP. Again.
Here’s the complete press release.
Long before the term “graphic novel” entered the popular lexicon, the Italian cartoonist Hugo Pratt pioneered the long-form “drawn literature” story in 1967 when he introducedCorto Maltese in the epic adventure “The Ballad of the Salty Sea.”
Pratt set the standard for all adult adventure comics in Europe, and by the mid-1970s Corto was the continent’s most popular series and Pratt the world’s leading graphic novelist. “He is one of the true masters of comic art,” says Frank Miller.
Pratt’s books remain best sellers in Europe and are published in a dozen languages yet until now, CortoMaltese has been poorly represented in English.
“We intend to change all that,” says EuroComics editorDean Mullaney. “Pratt deserves a first-rate American edition and America deserves Corto Maltese. We’re proud to publish Hugo Pratt as the first graphic novelist in our EuroComics imprint; we’re similarly pleased to publish him alongside Milton Caniff and Alex Toth, two important artistic influences on Pratt, from our long-standing Library of American Comics line.”
The late Kim Thompson, best known as the Vice President and Co-Publisher of Fantagraphics Books, summed up the Pratt’s historical importance: “Corto Maltese was the first European strip to advance a mature, artistically serious sensibility within the traditional adventure format. The elliptical narrative of the stories, the pervasive sense of destiny and tragedy, the side trips into the worlds of dreams and magic—all capped off with the exotic, guarded nature of the hero—combined with Pratt’s hard-won craft, worldly experience, and scrupulous research to form a work of breathtaking scope and power.”
EuroComics is working closely with Patrizia Zanotti, Pratt’s long-time collaborator, to present the complete Corto Maltese in a series of twelve quality trade paperbacks in Pratt’s original oversized black and white format. They will also feature new translations from Pratt’s original Italian scripts by Simone Castaldi, Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at Hofstra (and author of Drawn and Dangerous: Italian Comics of the 1970s and 1980s), and Mullaney.
“At long last, Hugo Pratt’s masterpiece washes up on American shores the way it was intended to be seen and read, the way fans all over the world have known and loved it for decades,” said Eisner Award winner Matt Fraction. “I read my first Corto Maltese story when I was ten years old and, ever since,this was the version of Corto I’ve wanted on my shelves. ”
The first of the twelve volumes, Corto Maltese: Under the Sign of Capricorn, to be published December 2014, collects the first six inter-connected short stories Pratt created in France in the early 1970s: “The Secret of Tristan Bantam,” “Rendez-vous in Bahia,” “Sureshot Samba,” “The Brazilian Eagle,” “So Much for Gentlemen of Fortune,” and “The Seagull’s Fault.”
The second volume, collecting the subsequent five stories, and will be released Spring 2015.
The series will also be released in a matched set of six original art-sized limited edition hardcovers, each containing the equivalent of two of the trade paperbacks.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.