Previous versions of the comic had been criticised for poor translations. But in comparison, it may be worth diving back to the nineties...
This is an open letter we are writing to express our extreme displeasure with the terrible edition of Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea you have just released. We are the co-owners of Big Planet Comics, a group of comic book stores in the Washington, DC area. Hugo Pratt is one of our favorite artists and we have read, collected and sold numerous works by him, including earlier editions of The Ballad of the Salt Sea.
The art has been scanned at a low resolution, leading to pixelization that obscures or erases the smoothness of the fine and precise art of Hugo Pratt. In some cases, it seems to have been printed at an even worse quality, the most egregious example being the middle panel on page 136, where the thin lines denoting the rays of light look like they were drawn with a skittering giant marker.
The reformatting of the panels of each page so that only about two-thirds of each original page is on each page of your edition jumbles the intention of Hugo Pratt, so that the flow of story from panel to panel is interrupted or changed, and the natural break point, or pause, at the end of each original page is now mixed haphazardly through your layout.
Most offensively, the original panels of Hugo Pratt's art have been resized, cut, and cropped to fit this amateurish new layout scheme, in some cases removing over a third of each panel, or splitting a panel into two new panels. Some panels appear to have been zoomed in, resulting in further loss of quality and removing more of Hugo Pratt's art.
These terrible mutilations of Hugo Pratt's art are insulting enough, but there are numerous panels where someone has taken upon themselves the hubris to fill out the gaping holes in the modified panels by adding to the art itself.
Also, your description of the book on your webpage at http://www.rizzoliusa.com/book.php?isbn=9780789324986
incorrectly claims this is the first time Ballad of the Salt Sea has been available in English. In fact, it has been released in English at least twice: once by The Harvill Press in 1996, and once by NBM Publishing in 1997.
This book is the first encounter we have had with any division of your publishing house. Your edition cannot claim in honesty to represent an unadulterated replication of Hugo Pratt's work. Whoever approved such a hatchet job on this classic piece of art should be ashamed of themselves. We would appreciate an apology and explanation.
We, and many of the employees at our stores, were very excited to sell Corto Maltese to our customers. We are disappointed we will not be able to recommend that any customer buy your edition.
Big Planet Comics
College Park, Maryland