Comics fans  celebrated the 53rd anniversary from the first publication of the Corto  Maltese series of graphic novels by the Italian grand-master Hugo Pratt in 1967.

According to the stories told in  graphic format by Pratt, who himself came from a multinational family, Corto was born in Malta on July 10, 1887 as the son of a British sailor from Cornwall and an Andalusian–Romani witch and prostitute.

Adventure serial Corto Maltese takes place in the beginning of the 20th century, interweaving motifs from different mythologies into the historical background, using storytelling of particular sensibility of both the text and the graphics. This made Corto Maltese one of the classics of European sequential storytelling.

The first episode, Ballad of the Salt Sea, takes place in the Pacific, while the rest include travels across the whole planet, from China and Siberia to U.S., Italy and Ethiopia.

Characters appearing in certain episodes include historical personages, from Jack London to Grigori Rasputin to the Red Baron. This approach was later imitated by other comics authors and filmmakers.

Corto Maltese graphic novels by Hugo Pratt. Photo: Сomics bookshop Bunker, published with permission.

One of the most famous anecdotes about Corto is that as a boy growing up in the Jewish quarter of Córdoba, he carved his own fate line on his palm with his father’s razor, determining that his fate was his to choose.

Corto Maltese attained cult status in the countries of former Yugoslavia thanks to the combination of nonconformism and romanticism. Alongside Alan Ford, this comics is one of the most respected representatives of sequential storytelling in the region.

A Corto mural in Skopje is just one instance of its enduring influence on the popular culture.

Hugo Pratt (1927-1995), whose life was almost as colorful and full of travels and adventures as Corto’s has made 12 graphic novels about the untameable sailor, and won  numerous industry awards.

Some of these adventures were also turned into French animated films, and there’s also a  Hollywood movie in preparation, starring со Tom Hughes and Mila Jovovich.

Two decades after Pratt’s death, in 2015 the comics authors Ruben Pellejero and Juan Diaz Canales started creating sequels of Corto Maltese saga. So far they had published three albums avaiable in Western Europe and in translation in Croatia and Serbia.

Нови стрип-албуми со Корто Малтезе.
The new Corto Maltese graphic novels by Ruben Pellejero and Juan Diaz Canales. Photo: Сomics bookshop Bunker, published with permission. Click on the images for larger versions.