Hugo Pratt

Hugo Pratt is a novelist who illustrated his stories while dreaming of telling it all simply by drawing a line, and who, through his characters, explored the vast universe of the physical and mental voyage.

With bold blacks or pale watercolors, he transformed Corto Maltese, Banshee, Koinsky, or Shanghai Lil into everyone’s desires, each of us setting out towards a different treasure island and a world that is a bit freer of schemes and limits, a place where it is really worthwhile to live and possibly fulfill one’s dreams

Hugo Pratt

Let’s attempt to construct a sort of biography of this Venetian, citizen of the world, he was born in Rimini in 1927.
His origins are already an interesting premise for all he will turn out to be. One grandfather, who grew up in Venice, was of English and French ancestry; one of his grandmothers was from Turkey. The other grandfather? A Sephardic Jew who had emigrated from Spain and was renowned both as a poet and podiatrist in Venice–a special kind of fellow. From this grandfather, the foot doctor and poet, Pratt inherited a great gift: his love of poetry.

“In literature what moves me the most is poetry because poetry is concise and unfolds through imagery. When I read, I see the images, I perceive them at skin level. Behind poetry there is a hidden deepness that I can sense immediately and, as with poetry, the cartoon strip is a world of images, one is forced to conjugate two codes and consequently, two worlds. An immediate universe through imagery and a world mediated through words.”

A Conversation with Hugo Pratt, Tandem , December 1989

In this special family the grandmother held an important role. She would take Hugo to the movie theater to see adventure films and, once they were back home again, she would tell him, “Hugo, now draw what you saw.” Then as a reward there would be hot chocolate with cookies in the company of her lady friends and his aunts: another universe, heterogenous and female.
His mother Evelina loved cards, especially the Tarot cards, with which she would read the future of her women friends and clients, who were so numerous that this became a kind of work.