How Mickey became Maltese Mouse. Interview with Bruno Enna

Bruno Enna, Disney and Bonelli screenwriter, is the pen behind it Maltese Mouse – A salt mouse balladthe homage to Corto Maltese published on baby mouse 3197 and 3198 and designed by Giorgio Cavazzano, who is celebrating 50 years of Disney career.

Putting two cartoon icons together is no easy feat. They had already tried Mastantuono with Bum – A ranger in actionparody of Tex, and above all Faraci con Dylan Top and Mickey Mouse.

We then interviewed Bruno Enna to try to get to the bottom of the story and analyze together how Mickey Mouse became Maltese Mouse.

Regular cover of Topolino 3197 and variant cover, for which Cavazzano was inspired by Pratt’s watercolors

How did the idea of ​​Topo Maltese come about?

You should forward the question to the volcanic Valentina De Poli and her editorial staff. They contacted me, asking me: would you like to try? I accepted and here we are.

I assume you are a fan of Corto Maltese. How did you hear about his adventures?

It all started in the early eighties, thanks to my brother Stefano. He traded a book he cared about for a worn copy of the Ballad. At the time, I only read baby mouse and a few other “newspapers”. For me it was a revelation. The discovery of Corto Maltese sanctioned the transition to adulthood once and for all, leading me to explore new narrative horizons.

It would never have occurred to me to combine Mickey Mouse and Corto Maltese (but it must be said that I’m not one of the best Italian comic book screenwriters). At first glance, when I read the news, I thought the two had very little in common, except for a taste for adventure. Where did you start from to outline the “hybrid” Maltese Mouse? Did you focus on any particular aspect of their characters?

The pairing came spontaneously. Mickey Mouse and Corto Maltese have much more affinities than it seems (apart from height). They are both courageous, ironic, insightful and cunning adventurers. In this specific adventure they take blows on the head (or graze bullets) continuously, yet they always get up and return the blows with interest (even if they prefer intellect to brute force).

Maltese mouse interview
Adventurous, shrewd, courageous, ironic. And inevitably fell for it.

I found Gambadilegno’s choice to play Gambadirasputin very apt. In fact, the relationship between Corto and Rasputin is similar to that between Mickey and Gamba, at least in the modern characterization, made up of hatred and friendship at the same time. Scrolling through the list of your stories, however, I noticed that he is a character you use little, and often as a subordinate of Black Spot. Don’t you particularly love him?

Jokes? How can you not love Gambadilegno? I love it and, as soon as I can, I call it into question. Often together with Black Spot, it is true, because the dynamics that arise between the two are always very interesting in my opinion (see Dracula, with “Gambafield” and the “Count”).

The choice to recover the pirate Orango as Slütter is also very apt, perfectly at ease in the role of… pirate! However, it is a character who appeared in a maximum of ten stories. Why did you choose him instead of someone better known to readers, like Plottigat?

He just seemed suited to that role. Then there is another fact: when working on a parody of this kind, it becomes necessary to summarize, simplify, sometimes cut. Having to give up some characters from the original ballad, I decided to “merge” together certain characters that are still essential to the development of the story. In fact, Minni Dora embodies Pandora’s sweetness, but also Cain’s rebellious spirit, while Orangünter sums up in a certain way the role of officer Slütter and that of his superior Galland (who even wears a “monocle”, just like Orango ).

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The cruel Orangünter and the less cruel Gambadirasputin

How did the pairing with Cavazzano come about? Did you know you were writing for him? Did you adapt the script with his style in mind?

In fact, I had been dreading the possibility of collaborating with him again from the start. Also for this reason I agreed to make this story, even though I knew it would be a really difficult undertaking. The idea of ​​seeing Topo Maltese drawn by Giorgio Cavazzano supported me step by step, influencing the creation of the entire screenplay. Basically, I wrote it for him. And I was paid back with interest. The script, in cases like this, remains respectfully in the background. It disappears, giving way to wonder. Giorgio is a giant of comics and I think he has created a unique masterpiece of its kind: a work that will remain forever. I’m happy to have been a part of it, in some way.

As can be clearly seen in the Mickey Mouse editorial and in the exhibition exhibited at Cartoomics and now at WOW Spazio Fumetto, to build the story you went to shoot the same scenes, if not even the same shots, of the Ballad of the Salt Sea. As a reader, it seems to me an obligatory choice for a comic parody of a comic, compared to when starting from a film or better still from a novel. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this thing? Aren’t you afraid of sticking too closely to the original?

The only way to approach this story was to work on it in the same spirit that I had approached the other great novels. Therefore, I decided to “stitch” together all those scenes that I had imprinted in my mind: indispensable cartoons, extraordinary dialogues, images that remain forever in the retina and in the heart. I wanted readers (especially new ones) to get as close as possible to Pratt’s work and decide, after reading, to go and buy (or rediscover) the wonderful original issue. Ours was a tribute to Ballad: a sincere act of love. I see no downsides to any of this.

maltese mouse interviews bruno enna
To the left Pratt, to the right Cavazzano. Do you really need a comment caption?

Thanks to Maltese Mouse I realized for the first time how many humorous moments Pratt’s story has, such as the scene of the hut, which you have filmed verbatim, or that of the puppet, not to mention the way the natives speak. This has helped you transform the Ballad in a Disney story?

There really were a lot of scenes that lent themselves, since the Ballad it is infused with humour. To those who have asked me how I came up with the idea of ​​making the Topapua speak Venetian, for example, I have always replied: read the Ballad original! The idea is one hundred percent Pratt’s! The irony, the intelligence, the surprise… it all comes from his genius. It must be said that, once again, I had to make choices by extrapolating moments that could have been not only “Practian” but also “Disney”. For example, the pursuit of the screaming natives on boats reminded me very much of certain “Ciminian” stories (just to quote another great Disney master: Rodolfo Cimino).

maltese mouse interviews bruno enna
The friendly indigenous people of Papua (VE)

The Ballad of the Salt Sea it was an obligatory choice for the first (only?) Topo Maltese adventure. But suppose he becomes a regular character, a series of stories. Given the choice, which other Prattian adventure would you like to adapt?

I don’t know, there are many stories. Perhaps, Corte Sconta called Arcana. Even if it would be really difficult to “translate” it in a Disney key.

You recently concluded the “horror trilogy” with Fabio Celoni (Dracula, Jeckill & Hyde and Frankenstein). You made Donald Duck meet again with his now adult duck friends. You wrote Maltese Mouse. What other stories can we expect from you in the coming months?

I recently delivered a long story, divided into three chapters, which foresees the return of a character much loved by the readers of our weekly (and created, coincidentally, by Cavazzano and Cimino). I’m talking about the legendary Reginella. Once again I faced an impossible challenge thrown at me by the editorial staff. Only time will tell if I will – at least in part – win.

How Mickey became Maltese Mouse. Interview with Bruno Enna