Corto Maltese in Africa (1972-1973)


Texts and drawings by Hugo Pratt

This cycle In Africa includes episodes 18 to 21, all set in 1918, and the action takes place in the Middle East.

The desert of Yemen serves as the setting for In the Name of Allah the Merciful where Corto meets Cush, the Danakil warrior that despite his close friendship with Corto, cannot stop flaunting his contemptuous intransigence towards a certain form of “white” culture. In The Coup De Grace the stubbornness of captain Bradt, commander of a small fort in the wilderness of British Somaliland clashes with the irritating attitude of Cush, who is defended by Corto Maltese. Corto is, however, locked up in a cell and unable to intervene until the tragedy has almost run its course. The theme of cowardice, previously dealt with by Pratt in this series, returns once in More Romeos, More Juliets set in the Ethiopian desert. Corto Maltese and Cush, still together, have first-hand experience of the panic and fear of being killed and their very human weaknesses are revealed. The figure of the shaman Shamael, who hears the voices of the dead and of devils, is most disturbing. The background moves to German East Africa in The Leopard-Men of the Rufiji in a dream-like atmosphere that brings to light how African justice often operates outside the constraints of “white” law.