Remonato, Giovanni: "Corto Maltese tra fumetto e letteratura disegnata." In: Belphégor 13.1 (2015)<https://belphegor.revues.org/620>.
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Keywords: "Corto Maltese", Adventure comics, Distribution, Italy, Popular culture, Pratt. Hugo
At the time of his first appearance in 1967 the Corto Maltese comics marked a turning point in the world of comics: the complexity of its protagonist and the subtlety of the plot were revolutionary. They were indeed “literary” comics: its author Hugo Pratt declared he was aiming to create “letteratura disegnata” – drawn literature. Corto Maltese was at first published in comic-magazines for children like Corriere dei Piccoli, then it moved to a new type of magazine that was more adult-oriented and had intellectual ambitions, like Linus. Finally Una ballata del mare salato, Corto Maltese’s first adventure, was re-published in 1972 in book form by Mondadori, a major publishing house. Corto Maltese’s literary qualities and its publication history are two innovative aspects of these comics, which elevate them from the status of “popular literature” to achieve “cultural” acknowledgement. At the same time, Hugo Pratt was a great consumer of “popular” fiction, comics and adventure/action movies, which he used as sources of inspiration for his comics. He was a fierce defender of the “popular” origins of his work and refused to call himself an “artist”. This essay investigates these two apparently opposed aspects of the Corto Maltese comics. I will argue that Hugo Pratt aimed to overcome the “cultural” gap between the genres and the different media and to demolish the wall between “high” and “popular” culture.
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