66668628.Rmud7Ay6We’ve been spending an INORDINATE amount of time over at the TCJ.com board this week, but it must have been because we were subconsciously waiting for the news we have been anxiously awaiting each and every day as we perambulated on the widow’s walk here at Stately Beat Manor. It seems that CORTO MALTESE is coming back in English. The evidence? A bare listing from Previews.


Featuring the adventures of Cortoso Maltese.
SC, 164pgs, B&W SRP: $14.95

Created by the great Hugo Pratt, there is nothing so magical, nothing so languid, nothing so elegant, wistful, romantic and perilous as CORTO MALTESE, the story of a wandering sailor who fights pirates and smugglers and soldiers and meets beautiful women and lingers on the beaches of remote tropical islands in the early years of the last century. there have been previous,badly translated English editions, but they are long out of print.

200610200410If we could only get to our bookshelf past the piles of yaoi that have been flooding into the house lately, we could reach our old Casterman editions of a few Corto volumes. The copies of NBM’s rather disappointing pamphlet reprints are buried somewhere else, and a reprint from Tony Raiola is yet in a third spot. Why are these not closer to the front of the bookshelf? In some ways, it is not even necessary; Corto is always near—in our heart, he’s always with us.

200610200405Rest assured, there has been a little Corto Maltese cabal in comics, planning some way to bring him back, and shove aside all the pretenders, gawkers and loudmouths, to make way for the REAL comics. But now comes word that Heavy Metal has acquired the rights?

Based on the fanfare with which this announcement was made — you’d think a reprint of one of the ten greatest comics of all times might warrant a press release — we somehow can’t muster much enthusiasm that this release will be more wildly successful than the previous attempts to introduce Pratt to an American audience. (Walk into the pop culture stores of France, and Corto Maltese is everywhere — we’ve netted glasses. a watch, socks and more.) We’re just not smart enough, we guess.

In some ways, this is okay. Corto Maltese is still right where he belongs, at SBM, anyway, and he’ll remain there until our dying breath.



  1. I remember discovering Corto in my college’s library. it was one of those things I’d read/heard about in comics history but as soon as I saw it in person I plowed through all of the books they had. wonderful, great stuff. this is definitely going on the Xmas list!

  2. Hopefully the translations will be good, the NBM ones were terrible. I had heard rumors that another group was trying to get the rights to Corto and package it for a publisher. Their number one worry was good translation…

  3. Even though, I always visit The Beat, this is my first comment ever. Just wanted to say that Corto Maltes is probably one of the best comic books in history. Just as in Tin Tin, Pratt adds real historical details in his stories, from clothing to weapon designs, etc. And there’s always a dream like feeling attached to every story, from Fable of Venice to Tango that elevates Corto Maltes to another level. All of this wrapped up with a style that in my opinion equals Milton Caniff’s.

    I don’t know about the English versions, but I have the Spanish ones published by Norma and each includes over 50 pages of historical notes surrounding the theme of every story. Definitely worth seeking. And if you like Corto, don’t stop there. I suggest Ana of the Jungle, the series of books Pratt wrote with art by Milo Manara and finally, Saint Exupery – The last flight which narrates the last days of the author of The little prince.

  4. I have a couple of the NBM editions and love them despite the sometimes poor translations (not to mention the crappy binding, but that’s another story). Hugo Pratt was a giant among cartoonists and is one of the few who really make me excited about the medium and its possibilities. I will definitely be looking for this new offering.

  5. Brilliant. As this has been a cause I’ve championed over and over again at my blog, all I can say is – it’s about time someone showed the sense to do this. Glad it’s Kevin Eastman, too – for all HEAVY METAL’s faults, he’s been a great patron to the artform over the years. Hope the volumes follow Casterman’s current series, with the tasteful flat colouring, and Pratt’s introductions loaded with his research and watercolour sketches.

    This is a genuine classic of world literature, and I couldn’t believe it was out-of-print in English for so long. Worse – I don’t think any of its previous anglophone publishers ever managed to finish the job and translate every volume. And yeah, I hope Eastman gets a sympathetic translator, though I’m stuck to suggest anyone fit for the job.

  6. “If we could only get to our bookshelf past the piles of yaoi that have been flooding into the house lately…”

    As pleased as I am that Corto Maltese is back, I gotta admit that I find myself wondering about the story behind this line… Piles of yaoi, huh?

  7. I should point out that there’s a world of difference between the American-English translations that NBM put out 20+ years ago and the English-English ones published by Harvill 10+ years ago.

    Harvill published two thick paperbacks (Ballad of the Salt Sea, and The Celts), both of which were translated by Ian Monk who works as a professional translator (Harvill Press were a publishing house that specialised in translations of foreign literature). His translations were actually readable, unlike the laughable NBM volumes.

    Given how heavily remaindered these books were in the UK a year or two after publication – I saw copies at £1 each, which was 10% of the published price) – I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this was just a warehouse find.


  8. I think that this is great news. Cant wait. I just dont understand why heavy Metal [from which I buy many euro albums or large size graphic novels] does not promote this stuff. I cant even find it on amazon.com the store from which they would be able to sell thousands and thousands of Hugo Pratt books? Another thing, Heavy Metal produces beautiful large size hardcover books same as in europe and I read that this Hugo Pratt book will be softcover and even worse shrinked size art at US sized comic size book! thats just almost not beliavable.

    I will still buy these books offcourse but i just hope heavy metal changes their mind and prints it in standard euro hardcover large books so we can appreciate the beautiful art by Hugo Pratt. Heavy Metal must understand that these books will sell years to come down the road so they should not make calculations on how to sell out books issue by issue. These kind of books sell forever.