For a few years now, French publisher Glénat has been matching up celebrated creators in French comics with the characters of Walt Disney. Thus far, this has resulted in pretty good books (Cosey’s Mysterious Melody, for example), rather idiosyncratic takes on the typical Disney adventure (Trondheim and Keramidas’ Mickey’s Craziest Adventure) and some books that had best be forgotten quickly.
The newest addition to this series, however, is something else. The Ballad Of The Salty Mouse is indeed, as well-read BD aficionado’s already gathered, not a new story, but rather a retelling of the first adventure of the leading man of the exotic comic, Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese.
Written by Bruno Enna with art by Giorgio Cavazzano, this story was originally published early 2017 in the Italian Disney comic Topolino (and later translated without too much ado in Portuguese). It takes the most important characters and plot points from Pratt’s original Ballad of the Salt Sea (Una ballata del mare salato) and spins it into something between a homage and a parody, with guest spots for quite a few Disney regulars (Commissioner O’Hara, Black Pete or Goofy).
It goes without saying that French comics cognoscenti were not amused, with Didier Pasamonik of ActuaBD talking about a “Publishing Frankenstein”. My personal issue with things like these is, why look back to legendary books from the past, even if you are an Italian Disney creator and you want to pay hommage to arguably the greatest cartoonist your country has ever produced? Why not look ahead? It’s as if you start retelling Batman’s origin story with other characters and… oh, wait…