Heads Up: CORTO MALTESE: THE BALLAD OF THE SALT SEA by Hugo Pratt

Coming in March 2012 from Universe/Rizzoli:

The publisher describes the book (paperback; ISBN-10: 0789324989; ISBN-13: 978-0789324986) as follows:

Treasure hunter, sailor, and adventurer, Corto Maltese remains one of the most popular characters from graphic literature in Europe and maintains a devoted cult following among American readers and creators. Originally published in 1967, Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea introduces our hero for the first time. The story begins with Corto Maltese adrift at sea in the Pacific during World War I. He is picked up by a Russian pirate/privateer named Rasputin. The graphic novel follows Corto and the adventure that ensues.

Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea is sure to appeal to fans of swashbuckling action-packed tales and sophisticated readers seeking elegant stories alike.

Earlier today, on the Comics Journal site, Fantagraphics publisher, Kim Thompson, offered the following assessment of Pratt:

I love CORTO MALTESE and would unhesitatingly place Pratt as the greatest Italian cartoonist ever and one of the top two European “realistic” (sorta)-slash-adventure cartoonists — really, it’s him and Giraud and then everybody else — but it is one of those series where, at least in my experience, you will reach your fill after a while and have enough of the wandering stories replete with wry, fatalistic dialogue bouncing off femmes fatales and scoundrels, set against minimalistic, evocative backgrounds with clever bits of genuine history woven in.

Finally, here are the first three pages of the story, followed by a grab bag of covers from previous editions:


UPDATE (19 March 2012):

Well, kids, the new English translation/publication of Corto Maltese is in stores, and the response has been mixed, to say the least. A number of Amazon reviewers seem to be very happy with the book, while others acknowledge certain problems with the format and the printing but seem willing to overlook the format in order to enjoy the story, which has been out of print in English for some time now — which would be fine, if that was the outer limit of dissatisfaction with the book. Unfortunately for Rizzoli, however, a growing number of Pratt fans who have seen the book have come to the conclusion that the new edition of Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea is nothing less than a botched job and what’s more, their frustrations are now boiling over in very negative online book reviews, blog posts, message-board discussions, and so on. See, for instance, the following:

The BEAT > Horrible production may have doomed Corto Maltese in the US yet again by Heidi MacDonald — — in which the author reprints, in its entirety, an open letter that retailers from Big Planet Comics have sent to the publisher, Rizzoli, protesting the matter.

See also:

Big Planet Comics > How to destroy a comics classic by Jared.

To buy or not to buy, that has now become the question… and until I make up my mind, I’ve cancelled my preorder.


ANOTHER UPDATE (21 MARCH 2012):

The Beat > More on CORTO MALTESE: Rizzoli responds on production problems — my reading of Rizzoli’s explanation is that they think they’ve not only done nothing wrong but in fact have done their utmost, in consultation with the rights holders, to produce a book that everyone involved could be proud of and have even gone the extra mile to improve upon all previous English-language versions of The Ballad of the Salt Sea by ordering a fresh translation directly from the original Italian; and now my question is this: could anyone be more deluded?

3 thoughts on “Heads Up: CORTO MALTESE: THE BALLAD OF THE SALT SEA by Hugo Pratt

  1. I haven’t heard any news, arpad. Sorry.

    Maybe Universe is waiting to see how The Ballad of the Salt Sea is going to sell before going all in with a Corto Maltese reprint project. I’ve pre-ordered, but I honestly doubt that Pratt will be an easy sell in North America. And yet, I’d love to be proven wrong…

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