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Frank Miller to adapt Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese for TV

Miller is following up his 2008 adaptation of Will Eisner's The Spirit with a new French TV series based on the Eurocomics classic

Corto Maltese
Image credit: Hugo Pratt

Hugo Pratt’s greatest hero is about to live again, with the news that Corto Maltese — the iconic sea captain that appeared in Pratt’s work from 1967 through 1989, comprising some of the most beloved works in European comic history — is being adapted as a television series, with Frank Miller attached to the project.

Miller, who introduced the location "Corto Maltese" to the DC Universe with his 1980s series The Dark Knight Returns, will act as writer and executive producer on the six-episode series. It’s not his first TV gig; he was the creator and executive producer on the 2020 Netflix series Cursed, which he also appeared in. In movies, he’s written RoboCop 2 and 3, and acted as director on both 2005’s Sin City and its 2014 sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, as well as the 2008 adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit.

In a statement, Miller said, “I first discovered Corto Maltese reading the books at Forbidden Planet in New York as a young man. Then on my travels, I studied and discovered an edition at a newsstand in Rome. The artwork was so expressive and so bold that it leapt off the newsprint. It swept me away. It was full of magic and romantic adventure. Maltese is a rascal who could talk to the gods. To me it showed off the power of the comic where language is not much of a barrier. I have been a Corto Maltese fan ever since. This is the hero’s journey in its most classic form, and I couldn’t be more honored to help bring into this series the romanticism, heroism, and underlying mysticism of Pratt’s creation.” 

Jemma Rogers is also attached as executive producer for the series alongside Silenn Thomas, who also works as CEO of Miller’s publishing company, Frank Miller Inc. The show is currently being developed by Studiocanal and French broadcaster Canal+. No plans for international distribution has been revealed at this point.

Corto Maltese has been adapted into a number of different mediums in the past, including three separate attempts at animation — in the 1970s as part of the Italian show Supergulp, fumetti in TV; the Corto Maltese, La Cour Secrète Des Arcades movie in 2002, and a series of animated shows for Canal+ — as well as, surprisingly, an entire opera titled Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salty Sea, in 2018. A live-action movie adaptation was in the works with Tom Hughes and Milla Jovovich attached, but that reportedly ran aground as a result of legal issues.

It’s worth pointing out that there’s another icon working on the show: visual effects work is being overseen by Phil Tippett, veteran of both Star Wars and Jurassic Park.

News of the series was broken by Deadline.

Miller talked about his past, present, and future career plans at Comic-Con International: San Diego earlier this year.

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Graeme McMillan

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Popverse staff writer Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.