HUGO EUGENIO PRATT, june 15, 1927 – august 20, 1995, was an Italian comic strip artist who combined strong storytelling with extensive historical research. like his most popular creation, CORTO MALTESE, whose stories first appeared from 1970 on, pratt was a restless world traveller all his life. born in rimini, italy, he spent most of his childhood in venice, then moved with his parents to ethiopia. back to italy he became part of the VENICE GROUP, an association of writers and artists, one of the members – DINO BATTAGLIA. together with them he worked on several comic strip series until because of poor work conditions for comic strip artists in post war italy he moved with a few others to argentine in 1949, where he created numerous comic series for argentine magazines. then pratt taught for a while at an art school in sao paolo, brazil, until in 1959 le left for london to contribute his work to war picture libraries. he briefly moved back to argentine, but settled finally from 1962 on in europe, first in milan, italy, then from 1970 to 1984 in france, later in lausanne, switzerland where he died in 1995 of cancer.
pratt is considered to be one of the greatest comic artists, who cited ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, JOSEPH CONRAD, FENIMORE COOPER and JACK LONDON as influences, along with cartoonists WILL EISNER and MILTON CANIFF. pratt’s cult series protagonist, CORTO MALTESE, an anti-hero sailor-adventurer world-traveler, takes the reader to the most fascinating places in the world, from the WWI-era pacific islands and their smugglers and pirates to dramatic events during the russian civil war after the october revolution and the spanish civil war.
one of pratt’s stories, CORTO MALTESE IN SIBERIA from 1975, has been translated to the big screen as a traditional animated feature film. LA COUR SECRETE DES ARCANES released in september 2002 in france. directed by PASCAL MORELLI and with stunning backgrounds by FREDERIC BLANCHARD, GISELLA GIAMPIETRO, LUCIE TREMBLAY, OLIVIER VATINE and JEAN-FRANCOIS MIGNAULT, creates a believable ‘pratt-world’ with all his characters come ‘alive’. it must have been a challenge to go from comic to animation. it shows in some parts of the film, – what works in a graphic novel doesn’t necessarily work in film. but, compared to a lot of other animation, this film is a visual masterpiece. below some of the artwork.
© hugo pratt / ellipse animation / canal+