Best YA & YYA Lit 1970 (5)

By: Joshua Glenn
October 24, 2019

For several years now, I’ve argued — here at HILOBROW, as well as in the UNBORED books I’ve co-authored — that the Sixties (1964–1973) were a golden age for YA and YYA adventures. This post is one in a series of 10 identifying my favorites from 1970.

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Hugo Pratt‘s Corto Maltese stories (serialized 1970–on).

Pratt’s now-iconic adventurer character debuted in the graphic novel “Una ballata del mare salato” (serialized 1967). In 1970, Pratt began publishing 20-pp. Corto Maltese stories in the French magazine Pif Gadget; set on the eve of World War I, they are cinematic, allusive, hallucinogenic, elegant, thrilling. In “Tristan Bantam” (“The Secret of Tristan Bantam”), Corto first meets the scholar Steiner, in Paramaribo; Steiner diagnoses our hero as a “frustrated Boy Scout,” before joining him and the titular English orphan, Tristan, on a treasure hunt — which involves a cryptic map and the myth of Mu, a lost continent. In “Rendez–vous à Bahia” (“Rendez-Vous in Bahia”), the trio encounter Tristan’s half-sister, the voodoo practitioner Morgana. They confront the villanous Milner, who plots to steal the orphans’ inheritance; and Tristan retrieves Tezcatlipoca’s skull from another dimension. In “Samba avec Tir Fixe” (“Sureshot Samba”), we arrive in Brazil, where Gold Mouth, an apparently ancient voodoo practitioner, sends Corto upriver to deliver guns and money to anti-colonialist rebels; they fall in with Sure Shot, teenage leader of a group of cangaceiros — peasant bandits — whom Corto inspires to bring down an exploitative colonial administrator. In “L’aigle du Brésil” (“The Brazilian Eagle”), Corto and crew stumble upon a German gunboat disguised as a banana cargo boat — and learn that Gold Mouth and Morgana are not what they seem. In “…et nous reparlerons des gentilshommes de fortune…” (“So Much for Gentlemen of Fortune”), “A cause d’une mouette” (“The Seagull’s Fault”), and “Têtes et champignons” (“Mushroom Heads”), the hunt for long-lost treasure continues — and Corto’s nemesis, Rasputin, returns!

Fun facts: “When I want to relax, I read an essay by Engels,” Umberto Eco once wrote. “When I want something more serious to read, I read Corto Maltese.” The publisher NBM collected the 1970 Pif Gadget stories in two albums: The Brazilian Eagle (1979) and Banana Conga (1979; the title story is from 1971.) In 2015, the publisher IDW began reissuing all the Corto Maltese stories.

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Let me know if I’ve missed any adventures from this year that you particularly admire. Also, please check out these additional lists.

BEST SIXTIES YA & YYA: [Best YA & YYA Lit 1963] | Best YA & YYA Lit 1964 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1965 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1966 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1967 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1968 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1969 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1970 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1971 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1972 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1973. ALSO: Best YA Sci-Fi.

The 200 Greatest Adventures (1804–1983). THE OUGHTS: 1904 | 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1909 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913. THE TEENS: 1914 | 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1919 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923. THE TWENTIES: 1924 | 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933. THE THIRTIES: 1934 | 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1939 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943. THE FORTIES: 1944 | 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953. THE FIFTIES: 1954 | 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963. THE SIXTIES: 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973. THE SEVENTIES: 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983. THE EIGHTIES: 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993. THE NINETIES: 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003. I’ve only recently started making notes toward a list of Best Adventures of the EIGHTIES, NINETIES, and TWENTY-OUGHTS.

Categories

Adventure, Lit Lists

What do you think?

  1. An excellent choice, Joshua!

    I can tell you, though, that as a Pif Gadget reader from 1971 (age 6), Corto was pretty baffling to me… though challenging and enticing in a mysterious way. An early case of the “acquired taste”, which an overwhelming number of my favourite things in life began as. Black olives, fermented bean curd and Hugo Pratt (related to Boris Karloff, did you know?).

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