Long before the term “graphic novel” entered the popular lexicon—ten years before Will Eisner’s A Contract with God—Hugo Pratt pioneered the long-form “drawn literature” story. Corto Maltese set the standard for all adult adventure comics in Europe. By the mid-1970s Corto was the continent’s most popular series and Hugo Pratt the world’s leading graphic novelist.
“Corto Maltese was the first European strip to advance a mature, artistically serious sensibility within the traditional adventure format. The elliptical narrative of the stories, the pervasive sense of destiny and tragedy, the side trips into the worlds of dreams and magic—all capped off with the exotic, guarded nature of the hero—combined with Pratt’s hard-won craft, worldly experience, and scrupulous research to form a work of breathtaking scope and power.” — Kim Thompson