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One of the reviews badly missing from the famed number 10 of piedepágina (a special volume on comics that appeared a few weeks ago in Bogotá) was one of Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese comics. Corto Maltese is one of those comics that create cult and fanaticism among followers. The power of the line (black and white - not gray, but real black and real white), the mixture between history (early twentieth century - WWI - slave trade - the Russian Revolution - etc etc etc) and dreamy fantasy, the recurrence of certain characters (Rasputin, Cranio), the presence of Rimbaud's poetry during Corto's fights and adventures, the general cool attitude toward the world and its worries - all these things start defining the fascination Corto Maltese comics have exerted over so many people.

At home when I was a child, reader of Tintin and Astérix, of Yoko Tsuno and Lucky Luke, those huge Hugo Pratt albums were also there (my father would collect them) - they were a different kind of reading, more adult, more aware of the history of the twentieth century, swarthier and saltier than my childhood comic albums.

We saw yesterday night the animation movie La cour secrète des arcanes, based loosely on Corto Maltèse en Sibérie as I vaguely remember it.

In the movie, black and white becomes beautiful color - Hergéesque color. Complicated line becomes simplified. The language is there, beautifully spoken in French - the Rimbaud poem sounds incredible in the movie.

The snowstorm in Manchuria is one of the most eerie scenes of animation I have ever seen. That scene by itself would be reason enough to watch the movie.

Here is, from the movie, Corto talking to the Red Lanterns - a Chinese secret society of young women warriors, back around 1919.




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October 2009


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