| Corto Maltese is a comics series featuring an eponymous character, a complex sailor-adventurer. It was created by Italian comic book creator Hugo Pratt in 1967. The Corto Maltese series has been translated into numerous languages.
Corto Maltese (whose name is possibly derived from the Venetian Corte Maltese - Courtyard of the Maltese, today Corte Contarini del Bovolo, next to Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo) is a laconic sea captain adventuring during the early 20th century (1900-1920s). A "rogue with a heart of gold", he is tolerant and sympathetic to the underdog. Born in Valletta on July 10, 1887, he is a son of a British sailor from Cornwall and a gypsy Andalusian witch and prostitute known as "La Niña de Gibraltar". As a boy growing up in the Jewish quarter of Córdoba, Maltese discovered that he had no fate line on his palm and therefore carved his own with a razor, determining that his fate was his to choose. Although maintaining a neutral position, Corto instinctively supports the disadvantaged and oppressed. The character embodies the author's skepticism of national, ideological, and religious assertions. Corto befriends people from all walks of life, including the murderous Russian Rasputin (no relation with the historical figure, apart from physical resemblance and some character traits), British heir Tristan Bantam, Voodoo priestess Gold Mouth and Czech academic Jeremiah Steiner. He also knows and meets various real-life historical figures, including Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, Butch Cassidy, James Joyce, Frederick Rolfe, Joseph Conrad, Sukhbaatar, John Reed, White Russian general Roman Ungern von Sternberg and Enver Pasha of Turkey. His acquaintances treat him with great respect, as when a telephone call to Joseph Stalin frees him from arrest when he is threatened with execution on the border of Turkey and Armenia.
Corto Maltese stories range from straight historical adventure to occult dream sequences. He is present when the Red Baron is shot down, helps the Jivaros in South America, and flees Fascists in Venice, but also unwittingly helps Merlin and Oberon to defend Britain and visits the lost continent of Mu.
Source: Wikipedia, "Corto Maltese", available under the CC-BY-SA License.