It never rains but it pours. Hot on the heels of the news that IDW will be publishing the whole of Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese in English for the first time,  publishers Casterman have announced that Blacksad writer Juan Diaz Canales and Spanish artist Ruben Pellejero have been tapped to author a new, original Corto Maltese story. Due for release in October 2015, the book will be simultaneously released in French, Dutch, Italian, and Spanish, although there is no news yet of a potential English edition from IDW or anyone else.

One of Europe's most celebrated comics figures, Pratt's enduring character set the standard for adult adventure comics in Europe, making him the world’s leading graphic novelist in the '70s, and Corto, the tales of a complex sailor anti-hero, a son of a British sailor from Cornwall and a gypsy Andalusian witch and prostitute, the continent’s most popular series. And now, twenty years after the Italian master's death, his most famous creation will set sail once more with two quality artists at its helm.

There's a few things to unpack here in terms of expected responses and opinions. On the one hand, comics -- perhaps more so than any other medium -- have seen multiple authors working to build the same character and world, but this has generally been the case more with corporate-owned properties and ongoing titles, and less so with iconic work that is the creation of one author, like Hergé and Tintin, and here, Pratt and Corto Maltese. One prevailing camp of thought is to leave the legacy of such work intact and untarnished, as subsequent follow-ups are not only an unknown quantity, but unlikely to reproduce the essence of the original, and in some cases (see Asterix) even poor. There's an increasing trend, however -- and I've been seeing this with prose books more-- for estates to "manage" their properties, deciding which authors to allow to produce "new" stories: it's been the case with James Bond since the '60s, and this year saw the Agatha Christie estate authorise Sophie Hannah to write the first "new" Hercule Poirot book since 1974. Financial returns aside, ostensibly the aim is to update and introduce the material to new generations of audiences, in addition to capitalising on the loyalty of older readers.

Although I'm greatly looking forward to IDW's new editions of Pratt's books, I'm yet to read any Corto Maltese, so perhaps I'm not as invested as the avid appreciator, but as ideal as the notion of infinite untouchability is, the option to simply not pick up any new material, and stick with what you like, remains a viable choice. Pratt himself wasn't immune to the idea of somebody else one day telling more Corto stories, having been quoted as saying: "I'm not shocked at the idea that someone might one day resume Corto Maltese." I know if we were discussing this in relation to Tintin, the curiosity would be too much for me to resist...


Illustration by Roman Pellejero
Illustration by Roman Pellejero

(via Le Figaro)

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