Corto Maltese – The Ballad of the Salt Sea (la ballade de la mer salée)

Sometimes in life you feel a headwind at your back, or a breeze brushing you by the cheek onward toward what is, in the mind of another, somewhere, a foregone conclusion. At the moment I feel this way about Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese stories. They first came into my life by name a few years ago, on the lips of an old lover. She told me after having learned my tastes that I shouldn’t miss the series in my lifetime, and so now several years hence I’ve begun to gather it to myself. You can find information on the character here and about the truly amazing life of Hugo Pratt here. At Bleeding Cool, you can read the good news about this year’s re-issuing of the series (come September).

I can’t help but link Corto and Spike Spiegel as lanky, big-hearted criminals and wonder whether the former isn’t part of the latter’s blueprint. Were I to look I imagine I’d find myriad others along the “Han Solo” vein; somehow I never tire of this brand of character (whether they play first or second fiddle). Corto Maltese is no exception: a pirate, a savior, none smoother or cooler when death is within inches, or love, and always independent. That I and millions of others so admire these qualities must say something about us as people, but those battles we know too well and prove boring to explore academically.


This first story is subtitled in English, happily. An uploader has graciously found a translation so that we anglophones can enjoy these finest of adventures. There are 9 episodes; I encourage you to buffer them all before watching so that you might avoid waiting.


2 responses to “Corto Maltese – The Ballad of the Salt Sea (la ballade de la mer salée)

  1. Thanks for this great article on the master illustrator… I can only read Pratts work for a few minutes before I feel compelled to put the book down and get out into the world and draw… ‘Periples Secrets’ is probably one of the best monographs ever produced.

    • Hey Finlay,

      Thanks for visiting. I’ve read a bit through your blog and want to recommend The Golden Bough to you (in the unlikely event you haven’t read it already). Sir James George Frazier wrote it and I’m…7% into it. I think it’s right up your alley. Failing that, try Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita” for a laugh.

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