Saturday, 12 April 2008


Alix, or The Adventures of Alix, is a popular Franco-Belgian comics series drawn in the ligne claire style, by one its masters, Jacques Martin. The stories revolve around a young Gallo-Roman man named Alix in the late Roman Republic. Although the series is renowned for its historical accuracy and stunning set detail, the hero has been known to wander into anachronistic situations up to two centuries out of his era. The stories unfold throughout the reaches of the Roman world, including the city of Rome, Gaul, the German frontier, Mesopotamia, Africa and Asia Minor. One voyage goes as far as China.

Alix is fearless, generous, and devoted to just causes. Born in Gaul, separated from his parents and sold into slavery, he is later adopted by a Roman noble contemporary to Julius Caesar. This mixed background provides Alix with an identity crisis and divided loyalties, especially in the context of the founding myths of French nationalism revolving around Vercingetorix. In the second adventure Alix is joined by Enak, a slightly younger Egyptian orphan, who remains his constant companion and sounding board. Critics have suggested that Alix and Enak are closet homosexuals, and parodies have overtly depicted them as such. Originally forbidden to have a female companion by the 1949 law governing children's literature, Alix later finds himself entangled with amorous women, but he always hesitates to commit, and the pursuit of social justice provides a pretext for moving on.

The authors

Jacques Martin created the Alix series as one of his earliest heroes, and he continued solo conception, plot, dialogue and illustration for fifty years, even while developing other series such as Lefranc. Due to failing eyesight and advancing age, Martin has since 1998 gradually retired from the series, turning over tasks to various assistants. Rafael Morales became his first assistant, taking charge of the final illustrations with some assistance by Marc Henniquiau, while Martin continued writing the stories and performing the first sketches and layouts.[1]. In 2006, Martin turned over the final writing task to François Maingoval, while still conceiving the main story line in rough draft form. In 2008, Maingoval shifted his attention to a spin-off series (see Alix raconte below), while Patrick Weber assumed the mantle of writing the main Alix series.

Alix: the hero of the series in the title role, pure of heart, perpetually twenty-five, and wise for his years.

Enak: a boy of fourteen, who meets Alix in Le sphinx d'or. Not originally intended as a principal character, he becomes Alix's constant and faithful companion.

Arbacès: sworn enemy of the heroes, this crafty and cruel Greek keeps turning up in their path.

Julius Caesar: friend and protector of Alix, the latter nevertheless finds himself sometimes torn between just causes and the interests of the great man.

Pompey: Caesar's rival, he repeatedly seeks to eliminate Alix, obviously without succeeding to end the series.

Vanik: cousin of Alix.

Astorix: Gallic chieftain, and father of Alix, not to be confused with Asterix, his burlesque counterpart who entered the world stage a little more than a decade later.

Honorus Galla: Roman governor, friend and loyal lieutenant of Julius Caesar, who adopted Alix as his son.


Hugo Pratt, Existentialist Author

by Andrew B. Etri

Hugo Pratt lived an adventerous life from an early age! He was born near Rimini on the 15th of June, 1927. His father, a Frenchman of English descent, had a criminal record and had to go to Italian Abyssinia to find work: he eventually became an Italian colonial policeman! Pratt's mother was Venetian and Hugo lived in Venice until the age of 10 when his father brought the family to live in Addis Abeba. In 1941, following the British conquest of Italian East Africa, Pratt's father was interned; he died of an infection in a POW camp the following year. The Pope and the Allied powers arranged for the repatriation of Italian families in Africa and Hugo and his mother returned to Venice in 1942. After the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943 the Germans set up a Fascist puppet state in northern Italy. That year Hugo Pratt was sent to the Scuola Militare di Città di Castello, in Umbria. In September 1943 he was drafted into the "Battaglione Lupo", a corps of the Fascist 'Social Republic'. He served as an interpreter in the intelligence section until the surrender of the Axis forces in Italy. He was then shipped to Australia. Returning to Italy in 1945 Pratt studied at the Venice Academy of Fine Arts. At that time he created his first comic book hero, a hooded crimefighter named Asso di Picche, in collaboration with Mario Faustinelli and Alberto Ongaro. In 1950 Pratt moved to Argentina where he worked for a variety of publications including Cesare Civita, Editorial Abril in Buenos Aires and Editorial Frontera. He also taught at the Escuela Panamericana de Arte during this period. Returning briefly to Venice in 1952 he married, but was divorced 5 years later.

Pratt created some of his most important strips in South America including Sgt. Kirk (1953), a western; Ernie Pike (1956), a WWII story; and Anna della Jungla (1959), a jungle adventure. From Argentina Pratt moved to London, England, working for the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Pictorial and Fleetway Publications. After a brief return to Argentina, where he edited the magazine 'Mister X', Pratt moved back to Italy, working for the Corriere dei Piccoli in Milan, then in 1967 for the monthly Sgt. Kirk. He also created Capitan Cormorant, a pirate story; Luck Star O'Hara, a detective strip; and Ballad of the Salt Sea (Una Ballata del Mare Salato), a tale of the South Seas, in which Corto Maltese made his first appearance as a minor character.

By the late '60's Western adventures had lost much of their appeal and on April 1, 1970, Pratt introduced Corto Maltese as a regular series for the French weekly Pif-Gadget. In 1973 he started to work for the famed Belgian comics magazine Tintin and created Les Scorpions du Désert, a World War II story. Cush, a character in the latter tale, provides Corto Maltese's apparent epitaph, stating that Corto disappeared during the Spanish Civil War, presumably dying fighting for the Republican side.

Pratt created a number of independent comic strip series in the last 20 years of his life, the most notable being Cato Zulu (1984), a tale of the colonial wars in South Africa; Jesuit Joe, (1978-1984), about a Canadian Mountie who is a law unto himself; and West of Eden, an adventure story set in East Africa. He authored two graphic novels illustrated by Milo Manara; Indian Summer, a tale of Puritans and Indians in New England, and El Gaucho, a tale of early 19th century Argentina. He also wrote several novels and an autobiography. Pratt died of cancer at his home near Lausanne, Switzerland, on August 20, 1995.

Graphically Hugo Pratt was strongly influenced by Milton Caniff, whose comic strip, Terry and the Pirates, began as a contemporary (1934) South Pacific adventure serial. Caniff was a master of black and white brushwork and his signature image was a powerful contrast defined by negative space. Pratt imitated this as well as Caniff's use of broad, powerful brushstrokes. Pratt contrasts frames full of thoughtful exposition with action sequences devoid of words.

Equally important were Caniff's complex and often tragic characters, his use of pathos, ongoing sub-plots, mysterious and powerful femmes fatales etc. Pratt developed his own minimalist style, with dramatic contrasts and enigmatic dialogue. His work is picaresque rather than conflict-oriented. We are on a quest where the journey is the goal; treasures are there only as excuses for exploration.

Pratt was diligent in pursuit of historical detail and liked to give his tales an air of the outre. Fictional characters mingle with real historical persons like Stalin, Jack London, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, etc. There is more than a hint of Kurosawa in Corto Maltese: he is a kind of laconic samurai, presenting an air of cool detachment to the world but compulsively sympathetic to the underdog and the oppressed. Like Caniff Pratt created a number of femmes fatales as foils for his hero. Pratt's are elegant, ambitious and devious, and for the most part possessed of an indestructible sang-froid. Pratt's ability to depict complex characters made it possible for him to present effective drama and tragedy in the confines of a comic strip.

At first Corto's adventures are (relatively) prosaic but Pratt's sense of irony and literary tastes slowly take over the development of the stories. Corto Maltese in Siberia is in my opinion the best of the 'straight' adventures; some Corto fans prefer The Celts. Perhaps the latter displays Pratt's characterization abilities best. In my opinion Fable of Venice is Pratt's best work. Pratt has begun to play with his medium; fantasy, memory, and spirituality blend into a deeper kind of adventure. Les Helvetiques is a literary fantasy strongly influenced by Hesse's Jungian mysticism; Pratt is struggling to use his medium to convey ideas rarely touched on in Comix. Finally in Mu we leave the mundane sphere in search of a lost world of ancient truths.


A Corto Maltese Bibliography

by Andy Etris

Irritatingly there are multiple versions of the Corto Maltese albums, depending on whether you are reading in English or another European language. Then there are colorized versions of the stories! In addition the American publisher NBM took considerable liberties in translating the tales (the ones they bothered to translate!) My big beef is that NBM decided to swap around some of the stories so that there is little relationship between the organization of the European and American albums! Where English translations exist, the publisher’s name is given in parenthesis after the title (if not, the original French title).

The Early Years (NBM)

The original French title - La Jeunesse de Corto - is a bit misleading, as the main characters in this adventure seems to be Rasputin and Jack London, rather than Corto. In early 1905, at the end of the Russo-Japanese war, Jack London (then an ambitious war correspondent) gets into a brawl with a Japanese officer. Rasputin is ostensibly a regular soldier in the Russian army, but when a whistle signals the end of the war he choose to disregard it, killing both an enemy officer as well as his own superior - on the dubitous grounds that nobody asked him his opinion! And Corto? As usual, he's more interested in hidden treasures than politics, and in this story we find him daydreaming about the famous gold mines of king Solomon...

Ballad of the Salt Sea (NBM, The Harvill Press)

Between 1913 and 1915, Corto and Rasputin are both employees for the mysterious "Monk", perhaps the last great pirate. From his headquarters at the secret island of Escondida, he controls large areas of the Southern Pacific, to the benefit of the Germans - who, in lack of more trustworthy allies and in dire need of coal supplies, find themselves forced to deal with freebooters and defrocked priests. The Ballad is much more than a tale about modern pirates, however. Above all, it is a great sea epic, with an athosphere reminiscent of Joseph Conrad's novels. The many references in the Ballad to famous maritime tales (such as Melville's Moby Dick, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, Coleridge's Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, the story of Jason and the Argonauts, etc.) clearly demonstrates that Pratt aspires to place his first major work in this particular tradition. The Ballad is also a collective novel: Instead of the "single hero-formula", the narrative portrays a number of characters which are of equal importance. Though many consider the Ballad as the first Corto Maltese adventure, this is only partly true. If there is a principal part in this story, it can perhaps be said to be played by the Pacific Ocean itself - at least the very first sentences in the Ballad appear to suggest this: "I am the Pacific Ocean and I am the largest..."

The Brazilian Eagle (NBM)

This NBM album consists of 4 episodes set in South America's Atlantic coast. In the first episode we find Corto Maltese escaping the tropical heat on the shuttered verandah of Madame Java's pension, when the alcholic former University of Prague Professor Jeremiah Steiner enters. The orphaned Tristan Bantam appears with a mysterious map and discovers that his sister, Morgana, is a pupil of the voodoo priestess Gold Mouth of Bahia, Argentina. There Tristan and Corto rendezvous with Morgana. They continue to Itapoa where they are sent on a mission by Gold Mouth to end the exploitation of native labour by wealthy landowners. The adventures conclude in Brazil.

Banana Conga (NBM)

In 1916 Corto is in Dutch Guyana posting bail for the dipsomaniac Steiner. Together with Tristan Bantam they are pitted against Rasputin and the heirs of pirates in a treasure hunt involving four aces made of whale bones. Then Corto washes up on the shore of a small Caribbean island and receives a head wound from the beautiful Soledad Lokaarth. Steiner consults with South American trader Levi Columbia and tries to help Corto recover his memory using hallucinogenic mushrooms; they travel together in a dream quest for Eldorado. Corto again stumbles into the intrigues of "Gold Mouth" in the episode "Banana Conga" which pits him against agents and double agents of the U.S. government. We also meet the young prostitute Esmeralda, whose mother loved Corto, together with 'bad girl' Venexiana Stevenson.

Voodoo for the President (NBM)

Corto Maltese must once again post bail for the drunken Jeremiah Steiner before sailing to a corrupt Caribbean island republic. There he finds Soledad Lokaarth being tried for voodoo practices by a kangaroo court. In "Fables et Grands-peres", Corto helps a European surgeon find the grandson brought up by the child's other grandfather, an Indian sorcerer and medicine man. In the final story of the NBM version Venexiana Stevenson turns up in Venice in WWI.

A Mid-Winter Morning's Dream (NBM)

Arguably the best of the series. Set in Europe during the war years 1917-1918. In the European version Corto arrives in Venice in the first of six stories; at the behest of Levi Columbia he is seeking a map to the lost mines of El Dorado. In the NBM version we begin in northern Italy where Corto is the moving power behind a plot to recover hidden Albanian gold during the battle of Caporetto. Next Corto is in Dublin after curfew looking for an old friend: an Irish Republican dead at the hands of British counter-insurgency forces. Then he's off to Brittany where he meets Cain Groovesnore in a tale of spying in WWI. More skullduggery is afoot in Great Britain and Faery King Oberon manipulates Corto into saving the Allied high command with the aid of Merlin and Puck. Corto winds up at an Australian aid station on the western front and witnesses the death of the Red Baron, the great German ace of WWI.

Corto Maltese in Africa (NBM)

From the shores of the North Sea to the shores of the Red Sea! This album takes Corto Maltese to the African theaters of the First World War. The story begins in the Yemeni desert where a group of British troops are in Tuban, held prisoner by the Turks. Corto and the Danakil nomad Cush meet there during a mission to rescue a Bedouin petit prince; the pair then travel to Abyssinia where they consult aged sorcerer - or fallen angel? - Shamael, the poison of God, who may be able to resolve a dispute involving two lovers of different religions. Corto winds up in German East Africa where an African secret society of 'leopardmen' helps him avenge the murder of the brother of Captain Slutter (Ballad of the Salt Sea.)

Corto Maltese in Siberia (NBM)

A superb story. This album begins in Corto Maltese's home in Hong Kong; at the behest of a Chinese Secret Society Corto, Rasputin and a Chinese agent roam northern Asia in pursuit of an armored train carrying Imperial Russian gold. Quite a challenge because the train is guarded by Cossack troops of the White Russian dictator Admiral Kolchak! The quest is complicated by the Russian Civil War, with Bolshevik troops fighting White Russians supported by Allied powers and Chinese bandits and warlords looking for a piece of the action. We meet Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, descendant of Teutonic Knights, a White Russian officer who became for a time King of Mongolia, riding at the head of his Cossacks in pursuit of a mad dream of glory. A number of characters comment on the apparent disappearance of Corto at the end of the adventure; however he reappears in 1920 to chat up the (female) Chinese agent! Who is the mysterious She?

Fable of Venice (NBM)

This is a self-conscious tale of intrigue and hermeticism set in the early years of Italian Fascism. The real main character of the story is the city of Venice; we linger in the shadows of its secret courtyards, navigate its canals, gaze from its balconies and leap from its tiled roofs. Freemasonry supplies a great deal of the atmosphere of a story which is very occult, full of esoteric symbols and historical references. We are also treated to a collection of Pratt's magnificent character studies. A personal favorite of mine!

The Golden House of Samarkand (La Maison dorée de Samarkand)

Having left Venice Corto contemplates English Romantics on the roof of the Kawakly Mosque in Rhodes. Chased off by Italian occupiers he winds up in a cabal of Turkish plotters where he discovers he has a doppelganger. Corto recalls that his mother had warned him that meeting one's double is a presentiment of death! It turns out not to be Corto's... He re-unites with the Italian Carabinieri Captain Sorrentino before leaving for the Dervish School of Mawlawiyyah. Corto is seeking the Persian treasure which Alexander the Great hid in Central Asia, but it just so happens Rasputin is in a nearby Turkish prison: The Golden House of Samarkand! Venexiana Stevenson makes a surprise appearance as Corto narrowly escapes death at the hands of Turks, Kurds, and Armenians - he is saved from a Bolshevik firing squad by a phone call from Stalin!

Tango (Y todo a media luz)

Corto Maltese slicks back his hair and dances the tango in this tale of gangsters, gamblers, corrupt cops and persecuted prostitutes. It is 1923 and Corto is in Buenos Aires looking for Louise Brookszowyc, the beautiful Polish immigrant who nursed Corto in 'Fable of Venice'. Louise had travelled to Argentina to work for the "Warsavia", an organization passing itself off as a social service but in reality a white slavery network. Corto meets former acquaintances Esmeralda and Butch Cassidy as he seeks revenge on those responsible for his friend's death.

The Secret Rose (Les Helvétiques / Rosa Alchemica)

This story begins in the Swiss village of Montagnola in 1924. Accompanied by Jeremiah Steiner Corto Maltese has gone to Switzerland to visit the exiled German mystic writer Herman Hesse. Corto meets the Klingsor knight, alias Herman Hesse, alias Wolfram von Eschenbach. The story is dream-like and filled with alchemical and esoteric references, giving the reader some difficulty in following the ins and outs of the plot! Corto meets Death, the Devil, King Kong, Eve, Joan of Arc, and the Marquis de Sade in a mixture of modern and medieval myths. Literary fantasy rather than action adventure.


Pratt plays with the mythic and fantastic in his final Corto Maltese album. At long last Corto has followed up on the map of Mu first introduced in "The Secret of Tristan Bantam". All of Corto's friends are aboard a ship chartered by Levi Columbia, which has reached the island indicated on Tristan's map. The expedition is menaced by the gang of Black pirate Dandy Roll and Quetzal warriors. Also on the island is downed aviatrix 'Tracy Eberhard' - who falls in love with Rasputin! Soledad Lokaarth, too, finds a mate. Corto passes through a series of tests in order to enter the underground world of the Amazons and save them from their enemies. He learns the secret of the lost world aboard a Chinese junk after his friends abandon Levi Columbia! Not a satisfying ending to this wonderful series...


The Life of Corto Maltese

by Andy Etris

According to Hugo Pratt, Corto Maltese was born July 10 1887 in La Valetta, Malta, to an Andulasian Gypsy, Amalia, a prostitute known as "la Niña de Gibraltar". Corto Maltese is therefore a British subject. Corto's official residence is Antigua, in the British West Indies, but the only home of his depicted in the series is in Hong-Kong. We learn a little about the childhood of Corto in "Ballad of the Salt Sea", notably that he was living in the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba, Spain at the age of 10. When a fortune-telling friend of his mother read his palm, she noticed that he had no 'Fateline'. The young Corto thereupon took his father's razor and single-handedly cut a line of Fate to suit him...

In the summer of 1900, at age 13, Corto made his first trip to China. According to Hugo Pratt's assistant Raffaele Vianello Corto's first feat of arms was performed there; in the midst of the Boxer Rebellion (June - August 1900) he destroyed a cannon. In Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese War (February 1904 - September 1905) he became a friend of war correspondant, later famous author, Jack London. This was the occasion of his first meeting with Rasputin, at the time a deserter from the Tsarist army. Together the pair sailed to Ethiopia in search of gold mines.

However there was a mutiny aboard their ship and they wound up in Argentina! In 1905, in Patagonia, Corto and Raspoutine met Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and Etta Place, the notorious outlaws fleeing from United States Marshals.

In 1907 Corto was in Italy, at Ancona, where he came to know a humble hotel night-porter named Josef Djougatchvili, the future Russian dictator Stalin. This friendship got Corto out of a tight spot 14 years later (see the album The Golden House of Samarkand).

Returning to Argentina in 1908, he reunited with Jack London. Between 1908 and 1913 Corto travelled to Marseille, Tunis, the Antilles, New Orleans, India and China. According to Juan Antonio de Blas, a specialist in the work of Hugo Pratt, Corto was second mate on the Bostonian in 1910, a ship sailing between Boston and Liverpool. On board Corto came to the defense of John Reed, future reporter and Marxist hagiographer, at the time a ship's boy accused by the captain of causing the death of another cabin boy. Corto proved Reed innocent at the trial, and as a result wound up on the captain's blacklist.

Following this voyage Corto became a smuggler. In 1913 he was working for the mysterious crime boss "the Monk" in the South Pacific. On October 31, Corto's crew mutinied (he was certainly unlucky in his crews!) and he was cast adrift in mid-ocean, tied to a crate. The following day, November 1st 1913, he was rescued by Raspoutine, also a member of "the Monk"s secret syndicate. Raspoutine had also rescued teenage castaways Cain and Pandora Groovesnore at the beginning of 'la Ballade de la Mer Salee', the first appearance of Corto Maltese in the oeuvre of Hugo Pratt.

Corto spent 1914 on the fictional island of Escondida (169 degrees longitude west, 19 degrees latitude south) When the British Navy captured Escondida Corto's German friend Slutter wound up in front of a firing squad. Around January 1915, Corto Maltese bade Pandora farewell and sailed with Raspoutine for Pitcairn's Island.

Then, Corto’s adventures in Latin America begin. In 1916, Corto Maltese, together with professor Jeremiah Steiner of the University of Prague and young Tristan Bantam, sail in succession to Paramaribo, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, Salvador de Bahia, then to Brazil and the mouth of the Amazon. In early 1917 they were at Saint-Kitts in the British Antilles, sailing from there to British Honduras (Belize), then Maracaibo and Venezuela, Honduras, Barbados, the Orinoco delta and the Amazonian jungle of Peru.

Corto's friend Levi Columbia was obsessed with the lost gold mines of El Dorado and during the adventure "Fables and Grand-peres" Corto learned of the existence of a treasure map. Crossing the Atlantic in search of it he arrived in Venice in the Fall of 1917. After a frustrating encounter with Venexiana Stevenson he sailed into the Adriatic prior to the battle of Caporetto (24 October 1917). He spent some time in Dublin while smuggling guns for the Irish Republican Army, then headed to Stonehenge, in England, for a nap! Instead he was caught up in a faery counterplot against German sabotage in "A Mid-winter's Morning Dream". Corto was in France on April 21 and witnessed the death of the Red Baron, killed in the sky over Vaux-sur-Somme. "The Celts" ended with Corto Skinnydipping with Captain Rothschild off the beaches of Normandy!

A month later the adventures in Africa begin, with Corto Matese in Yemen. By September 13th Corto was in British Somaliland, travelling from there to Ethiopia. The African adventures come to their conclusion in German East Africa.

Corto was in his home in Hong-Kong after learning of the end of the Great War, November 11 1918. Raspoutine turned up shortly afterward, elegantly attired in a Burberry and impatient to begin new adventures. A Chinese secret society, the Red Lanterns, directed the pair to Shangai, first stop in a journey to the collapsing Russian Empire in pursuit of a shipment of Czarist gold. There Corto hitched a ride with a pilot of the U.S.M.C., crash-landing near Chita in Siberia. Crossing into Mongolia Corto was captured by the troops of a White Russian Cossack commander and imprisoned in Duroy. Corto out-fought the Cossack Ataman Semenov near Chita but was severely injured while destroying the armored train of Chinese warlord General Chang outside of Bolkan-Nor in Manchuria. On February 15, 1920 he was taken to a Japanese military base at Hailar, recuperating at the U.S.M.C hospital at Harbin. In March he returned to Hong-Kong. "Corto Maltese in Siberia" concludes in the Chinese province of Jiangxi in April of 1920.

Exactly one year later a Masonic lodge in Venice was being called to order when Corto Maltese made a dramatic entrance into a story like a stageplay: 'Fable of Venice'. From there Corto travelled to the Aegean island of Rhodes in the Autumn of 1921 to began a new Asian adventure, "La Maison Doree du Samarkand". This took him from the Turkish coast to the mountains of Afghanistan in search of the treasure of Alexander the Great. Beginning in Adana he crossed Turkey into Azerbaidjan. Arrested by a trigger-happy Bolshevik Comissar he was nearly shot but was saved by the intervention of then- Commissar Stalin (always tip your porter!) Next Corto crossed the Caspian Sea from Baku to Krasnovodsk. There he found Raspoutine imprisoned in the Emirate of Bukhara. During a Russo-Turkish border dispute in Tadjikistan the pair witnessed the heroic death of Enver Pasha on August 4 1922. Finally they reached Afghanistan where for a hallucinatory moment they see the treasure of Cyrus. At the end of the adventure Corto and Raspoutine bade each other farewell at a borderpost on the Pakistani frontier.

In June of 1923 Corto Maltese was in Argentina looking into the disapearance of the beautiful Louise Brookzowyc, introduced in 'Fable of Venise'. In Tango he runs afoul of a prostitution ring called "the Warsavia", which had enslaved the young woman. Corto killed Estevez, the corrupt policeman responsible for his friend's death, and left Argentina the night of June 20.

In 1924, Corto Maltese went hiking in the Swiss Cantons with Jeremiah Steiner. In 'Rosa Alchemica' he met writer Herman Hesse at his home in Montagnola. Despite his skepticism Corto was drawn into the world of the mystic's imagination and in a dream drank the philtre of Paracelsus, becoming immortal. Or was it really a dream?

In 1925 Corto Maltese, at the request of Levi Colombia, sailed with Rasputin in search of the lost continent Mu.

A watercolour of Hugo Pratt's from la Revue Corto suggests that Corto was at Harar in Ethiopia with romancier Henry de Monfreid and the paleontologist and theologian Teilhard de Chardin in December 1928. In 1936 the armed struggle between right and left began with the last romantic crusade, the Spanish Civil War. 5 years later the Danakil warrior Cush, reminiscing with one of 'Les Scorpions du Desert', says: "Apparently, he disappered during the Spanish Civil War". So it appears! But disappear doesn't mean die...

Silvio Rodriguez Hasta siempre Commandante


Aquí se queda la clara
la entrañable transparencia,
de tu querida presencia,
comandante Che Guevara.

Aprendimos a quererte
desde la histórica altura
donde el sol con su bravura
le puso cerco a la muerte.
Aquí se queda la clara...

Tu mano gloriosa y fuerte
sobre la historia dispara
cuando toda Santa Clara
se despierta para verte.
Aquí se queda la clara...

Vienes quemando la brisa
con soles de primavera
para plantar la bandera
de la luz de tu sonrisa.
Aquí se queda la clara...

Tu amor revolucionario
te conduce a nueva empresa
donde esperan la firmeza
de tu brazo libertario.
Aquí se queda la clara...

Seguiremos adelante
como junto a ti seguimos,
y con Fidel te decimos
"¡Hasta siempre, Comandante!"
Aquí se queda la clara...
(carlos Puebla)


Lions in the Street

Lions in the street & roaming
Dogs in heat, rabid, foaming
A beast caged in the heart of a city
The body of his mother
Rotting in the summer ground.
He fled the town.
He went down South
And crossed the border
Left the chaos & disorder
Back there
Over his shoulder.
One morning he awoke in a green hotel
With a strange creature groaning beside him
Sweat oozed from its shiny skin.

Wake Up

Is everybody in?
The ceremony is about to begin.
Wake up!
You can't remember where it was.
Had this dream stopped?
The snake was pale gold glazed & shrunken.
We were afraid to touch it.
The sheets were hot dead prisons.
And she was beside me, old,
She's, no; young.
Her dark red hair.
The white soft skin.
Now, run to the mirror in the bathroom,
She's coming in here.
I can't live thru each slow centuryof her moving.
I let my cheek slide down
The cool smooth tile
Feel the good cold stinging blood.
The smooth hissing snakes
of rain...

A Little Game

Once I had a little game
I liked to crawl back in my brain
I think you know the game I mean
I mean the game called "Go Insane"
Now you should try this little game
Just close your eyes, forget your name
forget the world, forget the people
and we'll erect a different steeple.
This little game is fun to do.
Just close your eyes, no way to lose
And I'm right here, I'm going too
Release control, we're breaking through

The Hill Dwellers

Way back deep into the brain
Way back past the realm of pain
Back where there's never any rain
And the rain falls gently on the town
And over the heads of all of us
And in the labyrinth of streams beneath
Quiet unearthly presence of
Nervous hill dwellers in the gentle hills around
Reptiles aboundingFossils, caves, cool air heights
Each house repeats a mold
Windows rolled
A beast car locked in against morning
All now sleeping
Rugs silent, mirrors vacant
Dust blind under the beds of lawful couples
Wound in sheets
And daughters, smug with semen
Eyes in their nipples
WAIT! There's been a slaughter here
Don't stop to speak or look around
Your gloves and fan are on the ground
We're getting out of town
We're going on the run
And you're the one I want to come!

Not to Touch the Earth

Not to touch the earth, not to see the sun
Nothing left to do but run, run, run
Let's run
Let's run
House upon the hill, moon is lying still
Shadows of the trees witnessing the wild breeze
Come on, baby, run with me
Let's run
Run with me
Run with me
Run with me, let's run
The mansion is warm at the top of the hill
Rich are the rooms and the comforts there
Red are the arms of luxuriant chairs
And you won't know a thing till you get inside
Dead president's corpse in the driver's car
The engine runs on glue and tar
Come on along, not going very far
To the East, to meet the Czar
Run with me
Run with me
Run with me, let's run
Some outlaws live by the side of a lake
The minister's daughter's in love with the snake
Who lives in a well by the side of the road
Wake up, girl! We're almost home
Sun, sun, sun
Burn, burn, burn
Moon, moon, moon
I will get you

Names of the Kingdom

We came down the rivers and highways
We came down from forests and falls
We came down from Carson and Springfield
We came down from Phoenix enthralled
And I can tell you the names of the kingdom
I can tell you the things that you know
Listening for a fistful of silence
Climbing valleys into the shade

The Palace of Exile

For seven years I dwelt in the loose palace of exile
Playing strange games with the girls of the island
Now I have come again to the land of the fair
And the strong and the wise
Brothers and sisters of the pale forest
Children of night
Who among you will run with the hunt?
Now night arrives with her purple legion
Retire now to your tents and to your dreams
Tomorrow we enter the town of my birth
I want to be ready


The TT Special 650 Triumph from The Great Escape

For the filming of the climactic scene in The Great Escape in which Steve (as Virgil Hilts) hijacks a German warbike and becomes the center of one of cinema's most famous chase scenes, a little bit of improvising was done, as explained by Steve to writer William Nolan: We had four bikes for this film. I was running a TT Special 650 Triumph. We painted it olive drab and put on a luggage rack and an old seat to make it look like a wartime BMW. We couldn't use a real BMW, not at the speeds we were running, since those old babies were rigid-frame jobs, and couldn't take the punishment.
The camera tricks didn't end there though. Steve's riding was too fast for the German stuntmen chasing him, so to solve the problem, Steve doubled for his pursuers as well, effectively chasing himself on camera!
The Triumphs ridden by Steve in the film were decked out and provided by Steve's friend and ofttimes stunt double Bud Ekins.
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