East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Hugo Pratt (in Lyon)


prattDo kids still read Corto Maltese these days?
And more in general, do they read Hugo Pratt’s other stories, his westerns and his historical adventures?
I sometimes doubt it.
When a comic book comes with the full endorsement of your father, as a kid you feel the need to give it a wide berth – and Hugo Pratt’s work is idolized by so many Italians in my generation, that we probably forever alienated the younger generations from his work.

Which is a pity, because Pratt – a traveler who told stories through the visual medium – has been a great artist and a massive influence on the world of comic books and adventure fiction.

And when I was a kid, in the mid ’70s, he was not that hot with the younger audiences. Corto Maltese was slow, and verbose, and weird. I remember being roughed up by older kids because I was caught reading a Corto Maltese comic – the guy wore an earring, and therefore he was “obviously gay”, and as a consequence I had to be too. So they pushed me around and shredded my comic book.


But with its mix of history, reverie, melancholia and adventure, Corto Maltese was very much a product of its times. And if age gave it a certain edge, like a fine wine, it remains the sort of thing you need to be grown up to fully appreciate. Which of course is a perfect excuse to go back to the old comics. Through the years I put together both a black and white edition and a color edition, and sometimes I check out a random volume, just to see how Hugo Pratt did it.

And now, I find out, there’s an exhibit of his works and his worlds in Lyon – and it will be open for about one year. And here I am, daydreaming about taking a train and visiting Lyon, a vacation and an opportunity to immerse myself in the work of a true great.

It would be nice.
But in the meantime, here’s a gallery of Hugo Pratt’s art.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

5 thoughts on “Hugo Pratt (in Lyon)

  1. Pratt was an all-around author, one of the few that researched every little detail of his works. I don’t know about the kids, there was a French-made animated series a couple years ago made for them, but I really hope that some of them will get the feeling of such works.


  2. I had not known about Corto Maltese before today, but am now intrigued by your selection of sketches and look forward to putting on my adventure hat and to making up for lost time. I’m already a big fan or the era -)


    • Not all the sketches come from Corto Maltese.
      The native Americans come from some of Pratt’s work on frontier comics (Sargent Kirk was his first hit, about a US Cavalry soldier), others from his other historical work.
      But considering you are interested – I was planning a post on Corto Maltese anyway, I’ll post it tomorrow.


  3. Looking much forward to it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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