Hugo Pratt’s much celebrated “Corto Maltese” has not had an easy time being in print in the States. Often refered to as a mature readers Tintin, the adventure of Corto Maltese were mainly on sale in an English format in the 1980s, until 2012 when Universe/Rizzoli published a controversial edition of “the Ballad of the Salt Sea,” which was much maligned for the low quality of the production — from low resolution scans and reformatted pages that cut, resized and cut Pratt’s original work. It was the only English iteration of Pratt’s seminal work, and in the eyes of many fans it was nothing short of a disaster (though Universe/Rizzoli claimed that the changes came from Pratt’s estate).
Well, now it looks like those who are still in need of the complete Corto Maltese adventures in English are in luck, as IDW has teamed with EuroComics to bring oversized trade reprints with new translations of the series. Teaming with Patrizia Zanotti, who worked with Pratt, the reprints will do its best to retain Pratt’s original black and white vision of the series. The first volume will be entitled “Under the Sign of Capricon” and is slated for a December release, collecting the first six inter-connected shorts: “The Secret of Tristan Bantam,” “Rendez-vous in Bahia,” “Sureshot Samba,” “The Brazillian Eagle,” “So Much for Gentlemen of Fortune,” and “the Seagull’s Fault.” The second volume will arrive in Spring 2015.
This is, in every way, shape and form, a big deal. Pratt’s work is a preeminent influence on some of the most popular artists and creators of today, from Paul Pope to Frank Miller to Mike Mignola and beyond. It’s always a shame that certain influential and important European comics have such low representation in the states, and it’s actually a touch problematic for comic fans like myself when we don’t have access to some of these beautiful works. Certainly part of it comes down to interest; the dominant force in American comics wear capes and tights and star in Hollywood films. There’s only one mainstream publisher for European comics, Humanoids, and while they do an amazing job with their collections (such as the recent “Final Incal”), their presence is often under-represented in many shops.
So when IDW, a fairly big comic company, comes out with new translations and oversized productions of Pratt’s “Corto Maltese”, it is indeed a sign for celebration. I would hope that the lessons from Universe’s failed reprint is something that IDW is taking into consideration for their new pressing, but either way it is exciting to see that the same company that puts out franchise giants like “GI Joe” and “Transformers” will give the time and dedication needed for reprints of this size. Well done, IDW!
For the full press release from IDW, please see below.
IDW 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 introduced Corto 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, Corto Maltese has been poorly represented in English.
“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 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.”Continued below
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.
About IDW Publishing
IDW is an award-winning publisher of comic books, graphic novels and trade paperbacks, based in San Diego, California. Renowned for its diverse catalog of licensed and independent titles, IDW publishes some of the most successful and popular titles in the industry, including: Hasbro’s The TRANSFORMERS, G.I. JOE and MY LITTLE PONY; Paramount’s Star Trek; Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; 2000AD’s Judge Dredd; The Rocketeer; Toho’s Godzilla; Wizards of the Coast’s Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons; V-Wars from New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Maberry; Ragnarök from Eisner Award-winner Walter Simonson; Winterworld, created by Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino; and Little Nemo from the award-winning duo of Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez. IDW is also home to the Library of American Comics imprint, which publishes classic comic reprints, Yoe! Books, a partnership with Yoe! Studio, and the multiple award-winning Artist’s Edition imprint.
IDW’s critically- and fan-acclaimed series are continually moving into new mediums. Currently, Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Disney are creating a feature film based on World War Robot; Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Warner Brothers are producing a film based on Ashley Wood’s Lore; Michael Bay‘s Platinum Dunes and Sony are bringing Zombies vs. Robots to film, Kurtzman/Orci are producing a movie based on Locke & Key at Universal.