Hi, I’m Corto Maltese, and I’m ridiculously handsome and smooth. I wear an earring and a nautical hat, which some might call affected — but I prefer to think of it as rakish. I’m from 1967 (an excellent year) and I like to smoke, which draws attention to my mouth and gives me something to do with my hands; always a bonus, in comics. Oh! Didn’t I mention? Yes, I’m… from comics. Not a huge money-spinner, I’ll admit, but I prefer my freedom and imagination to wealth. You like that line? It’s a good one.
You’re reading this in English. Why, you lucky thing! English is what my adventures are about to be published in! As you’ll see — I do a lot of travelling, meet a lot of people. Sometimes things get surreal. One time I find Rasputin. Who really cares, with a face like this? But that’s the wonder of it! Even if I was a trout (which I’m not), old Hugo (Hugo Pratt, my creator) made comics that would shine brighter than the buttons on my uniform. When it was new.
As it stands, I’m such a catch they made a clothing line sold on our names, Hugo and I, so that the more settled man could suggest my allure with pre-distressed pockets and floral cargo shorts. Did it work?
No! I’m Corto Maltese! The only one!
I’ve been animated, I’ve been in colour, I’ve been black and white. I’m Italian-penned, born in Malta. My mother’s from Seville and my father was from Tintagel. I grew up in Gibraltar, received a Jewish education in Cordoba, found my way to China. That was before I was thirteen! I’ve been all over! Perhaps English will suit me, eh?
I elegantly shrug. If it doesn’t, I can always take it off again, you know?