Suite Caribeana and mare d’oro (1970)

CYCLE 1

Texts and drawings by Hugo Pratt

This cycle includes the first six episodes, all set in Latin America during the years 1916 and 1917.

The Secret of Tristan Bantam records the encounter between Corto Maltese and Professor Steiner, who will later become a very close friend. Corto helps and protects the young Tristan from the evil plots of his lawyer who wants to get his hands on the boy’s estate. The action takes place in Paramaribo, in Dutch Guyana, and continues and concludes in Rendez-Vous in Bahia where Tristan meets Morgana, the half-sister he had never known, and is shocked to discover that she is black. “Don’t be stupid,” Corto Maltese says to him,“she is a wonderful girl!” The Brazilian Sertão is the setting for Sureshot Samba where Corto Maltese sides with the cangaçeiros rebels against the powerful landowners in a story that could be read as a revolution against the injustices of this world. It is here that Gold Mouth enters on the scene; she is a queen of black magic and still beautiful despite the fact that some people say she is over two hundred years old. The next episode The Brazilian Eagle moves the action to the island of Maracà, at the mouth of the Amazon, where Corto runs into a German ghost ship that beneath the innocent appearance of a banana cargo ship, conceals a battle cruiser. The figure of Rasputin, Corto’s friend/enemy and considered by many to be his evil alter ego, has reappeared over time in different scenes since the Ballad and is here once again in the episode So Much for Gentlemen of Fortune in an adventure set in Saint Kitts, that focuses on the search for a fabulous treasure. The cycle terminates with The Seagull’s Fault in which the seagull of the title (Pratt really loved drawing this bird because of the sense of freedom its flight conveyed) is the unwilling protagonist of a story that takes place on an island in British Honduras. Among other things, Corto comes to the aid of the beautiful Soledad Lokaarth and when the time comes to separate at the end of the adventure he looks her in the eyes and says “... it is not easy to say farewell”.