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By Morris

Lucky Luke

 
LuckyLuke2.png
Sous le Ciel de l’Ouest (1952), cover of an early softcovered issue.
Publication information
Publisher Lucky Comics (French)
Cinebook Ltd (English)
First appearance Le Journal de Spirou Almanach #47, December 7, 1946
Created by Morris

Lucky Luke is a Franco-Belgian comics series created by Belgian cartoonist, Maurice De Bevere better known as Morris, the original artist, and was for one period written by René Goscinny. Set in the American Old West, it stars the titular character, Lucky Luke, the cowboy known to shoot faster than his shadow.

Along with The Adventures of Tintin and Asterix, Lucky Luke is one of the most popular and best-selling comic-book series in continental Europe.[1] Popular in Canada, about half of the series’ adventures have been translated into English. Lucky Luke comics have been translated into 23 languages, including many European languages, some African and Asian languages.

Publication history

First appearance of Lucky Luke and Jolly Jumper in Arizona 1880 (1946)

Both a tribute to the mythic Old West and an affectionate parody, the comics were created by the Belgian artist Morris who drew Lucky Luke from 1946 until his death in 2001. The first Lucky Luke adventure named Arizona 1880 appeared in the Almanach issue of the comics magazine Le Journal de Spirou on December 7, 1946.[2] After several years of solitary work on the strip, Morris began a collaboration with René Goscinny who became the series’ writer for a period that is considered the golden age of the series. This started with the story Des rails sur la Prairie published on August 25, 1955 in Spirou.[3] Ending a long run of serial publications in Spirou, the series shifted to Goscinny’s magazine Pilote in 1967 with the story La Diligence, subsequently leaving publisher Dupuis for Dargaud.

After the death of Goscinny in 1977, several writers have tried to fill the role of storyteller, including Vicq, Bob de Groot, Jean Léturgie and Lo Hartog Van Banda. In addition to continuing the series, Morris started the related spin-off series Rantanplan in 1987. At the 1993 Angoulême International Comics Festival, Lucky Luke was given an honorary exhibition.[4]

After Morris’ death in 2001, French artist Achdé continued drawing new Lucky Luke stories in collaboration with writer Laurent Gerra.

Lucky Luke comics have been translated into Afrikaans, Arabic, Bosnian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (both in the Brazilian and Portuguese forms), Serbian , Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Turkish, Vietnamese and Welsh.

The stories

Luke, a wandering cowboy capable of drawing a gun faster than his shadow, fights crime and injustice, most often in the form of the bumbling Dalton brothers, Joe, William, Jack and Averell, and sometimes even their mother, Ma Dalton. He rides Jolly Jumper, “the smartest horse in the world” and is often accompanied by Rantanplan, “the stupidest dog in the universe”, a spoof of Rin Tin Tin, usually guarding the Dalton brothers at their jail yet never preventing them from escaping. He refuses to smell the Daltons’ clothes, and acts as a reverse indicator to the Daltons’ whereabouts.

In the albums, Luke meets many factual Western figures like Calamity Jane, Billy the Kid, Judge Roy Bean and Jesse James‘s gang, and takes part in historical endeavours such as the guarding of Wells Fargo stagecoaches, the Pony Express, the building of the first transcontinental telegraph, the Rush into the Unassigned Lands of Oklahoma, and a tour by French actress Sarah Bernhardt. Some of the books feature a one-page article offering an historical perspective of the events featured. Goscinny once said that he and Morris tried to base the Lucky Luke adventures on real events whenever possible, but that they would not let historical facts get in the way of a funny story.

The chronology of the albums is deliberately murky, and in most albums no particular year is given. The villains and incidental characters based on real persons lived over most of the mid- to late-19th century. For example, in the album Daily Star, Lucky Luke meets a young Horace Greeley, prior to moving to New York. Although no year is mentioned in the album, this story must take place circa 1830, since the real Horace Greeley moved to New York in 1831. Judge Roy Bean, who was appointed judge in 1882, appears in another album, taking place some fifty years later – and in another album, Lucky Luke takes part in the 1892 Coffeyville shootout against the Dalton Gang. Lucky Luke himself is, of course, always the same age.

“Except for the first album, Lucky Luke has never killed any opponent but still, he seemed to carry along a heavy burden, never committing to anything or anybody, and always riding off into the sunset.” [5]

At the end of each story, except the earliest, Lucky Luke rides off alone into the sunset on Jolly Jumper, singing (in English) “I’m a poor lonesome cowboy, and a long way from home…”.

Jesse James

In 1969, Morris and writer René Goscinny (co-creator of Asterix) had Lucky Luke confronting Jesse James, his brother Frank James and Cole Younger. The adventure poked fun at the image of Jesse as a new Robin Hood. Although he passes himself off as such and does indeed steal from the rich (who are, logically, the only ones worth stealing from), he and his gang take turns being “poor,” thus keeping the loot for themselves. Frank quotes from Shakespeare, and Younger is portrayed as a fun-loving joker, full of good humor. One critic has likened this version of the James brothers as “intellectual bandits, who won’t stop theorising about their outlaw activities and hearing themselves talk.”[6] In the end, the at-first-cowed people of a town fight back against the James gang and send them packing tar and feathers. – Note the parodic depictions of the Pinkertons.

Smoking

“Lucky Luke’s famous cigarette not only identifies a profile but allows the tempo to be modified and extended, expressing a feeling: in Le Pied-tendre (The Tenderfoot), Morris shows Lucky Luke’s feelings at the death of a friend in a series of three frames in which the hero rolls and spills a cigarette.”[7]

Morris, who has been criticized over Lucky Luke’s cigarette for a long time, answered his critics : “the cigarette is part of the character’s profile, just like the pipe of Popeye or Maigret“.[8] It is claimed that, Morris was forced to remove cigarettes Lucky Luke smokes from his strip and Lucky Luke who “used to be a heavy smoker“, had to give up smoking for “commercial reasons”, “apparently to gain access to the American market”.[7][9][10] “On World No Tobacco Day in 1989, the magazine Spirou published a militantly anti-tobacco issue.” [7] Morris won an award from the World Health Organization in 1988 when he replaced Luke’s omnipresent cigarette with a wisp of straw in 1983, “an anti-cigarette poster today proclaims “Even Lucky Luke can’t stand them!” and shows the happy cowboy in a radical reversal of his image”.[7][11][12] In the 2007 animated film “Tous à l’Ouest: Une aventure de Lucky Luke”, Lucky Luke is seen using what appears to be a nicotine patch and mentions that before that he had to “chew on a piece of straw for a while” right after he quit smoking. In the story “The bridge over the Mississipi”, he is seen rolling a cigarette again, although he claims it was just to hide his boredom.

Stereotypes

Some of the humour in Lucky Luke is based on clichés and stereotypes, including many ethnic stereotypes of “sneaky” Chinese or “lazy” Mexicans,[5] Native Americans, Irish and Italians[10] as well as “darky” depictions of Afro-Americans. According to the Forbidden Planet (bookstore) correspondent: “They played on the clichés of the genre, with humour that nowadays probably would be considered quite racist (lazy Mexicans, sneaky Chinese), but also with a special sort of being satire, mirroring contemporary social platitudes.” [5] Lucky Luke himself however, treats everyone with respect and protects any (stereotype-or-not) vulnerable person against injustice.

Lucky Luke characters of non-fiction origin

Lucky Luke in other media

French DVD cover for the Terence Hill film

Animation

Four theatrical animated films were created. In 1990, Disney released one of them, The Ballad of the Daltons, on VHS. Three of the movies were part of a trilogy. The first of the films was titled Daisy Town (1971), followed by La Ballade des Dalton (1978) and finished by Les Dalton en cavale (1983), meaning The Daltons on the Loose in English. In addition to the theatrical animated movies, there was also an animated Lucky Luke television series: In 1983, Hanna-Barbera studios and Morris released 26 episodes, and in 1991, 26 more episodes were released. In 2001, Xilam produced a new series of 52 episodes known as Les Nouvelles aventures de Lucky Luke (Lucky Luke’s new adventures). It is now available on 8 DVDs with French and English audio tracks. This series also featured colonel Custer, in this incarnation an Indian-hater and a dwarf. Xilam recently produced a theatrical animated film (the fourth film), Tous à l’Ouest: Une aventure de Lucky Luke (Go West: A Lucky Luke Adventure), which was released in France on December 5, 2007.[13]

Live-action film and television

In 1991, two films (Lucky Luke and Lucky Luke 2) and in 1992 a television series (The Adventures of Lucky Luke) starring Terence Hill as Lucky Luke were produced.

In 2004 the film Les Dalton featured Til Schweiger as Lucky Luke.

In 2009, Yves Marmion and UGC, the producers of Les Dalton, produced the film Lucky Luke starring French comedian Jean Dujardin as the gunslinger. The film was released on October 21, 2009 in Europe.

Over the years, several Lucky Luke video games were released for many platforms, most of them by Infogrames, and only released in Europe (the only ones released for the North American market were the Game Boy Color and PlayStation versions). A Lucky Luke game was also developed for mobile phones by The Mighty Troglodytes.[citation needed] Lucky Luke: Go West was released in Europe for the PC, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS in the end of 2007.

iPhone

Lucky Luke (l’homme de Washington) has been released on iPhone by Ave!Comics in December 2008. It was the first time ever a Franco-Belgian comics series appeared on a mobile phone.

Bibliography

By Morris (1949-1958)

Dupuis Publishing

By Morris & Goscinny (1957-1986)

Dupuis Publishing

Dargaud Publishing

By Morris and various writers (1980-2002)

Dargaud Publishing

  • 47. Le Magot des Dalton, 1980, by Vicq (The Daltons’ Loot)
  • 48. Le Bandit manchot, 1981, by Bob de Groot (The One-Armed Bandit)
  • 49. Sarah Bernhardt, 1982, by Jean Léturgie and Xavier Fauche
  • 52. Fingers, 1983, by Lo Hartog Van Banda
  • 53. Le Daily Star, 1983, by Jean Léturgie and Xavier Fauche (The Daily Star)
  • 54. La Fiancée de Lucky Luke, 1985, by Guy Vidal (Lucky Luke’s Fiancee)
  • 56. Le Ranch maudit, 1986, by Jean Léturgie, Xavier Fauche and Claude Guylouis (The Cursed Ranch)
  • 57. Nitroglycérine, 1987, by Lo Hartog Van Banda
  • 58. L’Alibi, 1987, by Claude Guylouis (The Alibi)
  • 59. Le Pony Express, 1988], by Jean Léturgie and Xavier Fauche (The Pony Express)

Lucky Productions

  • 60. L’Amnésie des Dalton, 1991, by Jean Léturgie and Xavier Fauche (The Daltons’ Amnesia)
  • 61. Chasse aux fantômes, 1992, by Lo Hartog Van Banda (Ghosthunt)
  • 62. Les Dalton à la noce, 1993, by Jean Léturgie and Xavier Fauche (The Daltons at a Wedding)
  • 63. Le Pont sur le Mississippi, 1994, by Jean Léturgie and Xavier Fauche (Bridge Over The Mississippi)
  • 64. Kid Lucky, 1995, by Pearce and Jean Léturgie
  • 65. Belle Star, 1995, by Xavier Fauche
  • 66. Le Klondike, 1996, by Yann and Jean Léturgie (The Klondike)
  • 67. O.K. Corral, 1997, by Eric Adam and Xavier Fauche
  • 68. Oklahoma Jim, 1997, by Pearce and Jean Léturgie
  • 69. Marcel Dalton, 1998, by Bob de Groot

Lucky Comics

  • 70. Le Prophète, 2000, by Patrick Nordmann (The Prophet)
  • 71. L’Artiste peintre, 2001, by Bob de Groot (The Painter)
  • 72. La Légende de l’Ouest, 2002, by Patrick Nordmann (The Legend Of The West)

By Achdé & Gerra (Since 2004)

Lucky Comics

  • 73. La Belle Province, 2004 (The Beautiful Province)
  • 74. La Corde au cou, 2006 (The Noose)
  • 75. L’Homme de Washington, 2008 (The man from Washington)

By Achdé, Benacquista & Pennac (Since 2010)[14]

Lucky Comics

English translations

Apart from the collections mentioned below, Lucky Luke comics were published in British comic book magazines such as Film Fun Comic or Giggle (in 1967). The Giggle version had Luke’s name changed to “Buck Bingo”.[15] Cinebook Ltd have been publishing English language translations of Lucky Luke since 2006. One new volume is released every two months. In India only, Euro Books, a division of Euro Kids International Ltd. published English versions of 24 Lucky Luke titles in 2009.

Brockhampton Press (UK)

Knight Books (UK)

Dargaud USA and Canada

  • The Stage Coach, USA, 1980s
  • The Greenhorn, USA, 1980s
  • Dalton City, USA, 1980s
  • Jesse James, USA, 1980s
  • Western Circus, USA, 1980s
  • Ma Dalton, USA, 1980s
  • The Dalton Brothers’ Analyst, Canada, 1982
  • Curing the Daltons, Canada, 1982

Fantasy Flight (US)

Ravette Books (UK)

  • The Dalton Brothers Memory Game, 1991

Glo’worm (UK)

Cinebook Ltd

Eurokids

See also

References

Footnotes
  1. ^ Ratier, Gilles. “ACBD bilan 2006:new Lucky Luke had an initial run of 650,000 copies..”. ACBD.fr. Archived from the original on 2007-03-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20070305183020/http://www.acbd.fr/bilan/page/bilan-2006.html#5. Retrieved 2007-02-08. (French)
  2. ^ BDoubliées. “Spirou année 1946” (in French). http://bdoubliees.com/journalspirou/annees/1946.htm
  3. ^ BDoubliées. “Spirou année 1955” (in French). http://bdoubliees.com/journalspirou/annees/1955.htm
  4. ^ Lambiek Comiclopedia. “Morris”. http://lambiek.net/artists/m/morris.htm
  5. ^ a b c Forbiddenplanet.co.uk
  6. ^ Fans de Lucky Luke website.” fandeluckyluke.com. (in French)
  7. ^ a b c d World Health Forum Vol 11 1990
  8. ^ World Health Forum Vol 11 1990 footnote Les cahiers de la bande dessinée. No. 43, 1980, p. 11.
  9. ^ Peopledaily.com.cn
  10. ^ a b Thelooniverse.com
  11. ^ ABCnews.com
  12. ^ TV.com
  13. ^ “Tous a l’ouest”. Xilam Films. October 22, 2007. http://www.luckyluke-lefilm.com/. Retrieved 2007-10-22. 
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ Lucky Luke as “Buck Bingo” on the Forbidden Planet International Blog Log

Further reading

  • Lefevre, Pascal. 1998. Lucky Luke, a ‘lonesome cowboy’ for more than half a century. In The Low Countries, 1998-1999. Rekkem: Stichting Ons Erfdeel.

External links

Morris

 
Born Maurice De Bevere
1 December 1923(1923-12-01)
Kortrijk, Belgium
Died 16 July 2001(2001-07-16) (aged 77)
Brussels, Belgium
Nationality Belgian
Area(s) Cartoonist, Writer, Artist
Notable works Lucky Luke
Awards full list

Maurice De Bevere (1 December 1923 – 16 July 2001), better known as Morris, was a Belgian cartoonist and the creator of Lucky Luke. His pen name is an alternate spelling of his first name.

Biography

Born in Kortrijk, Belgium. He went to school in the well-known Jezuit college in Aalst, whose suits inspired him for those of the undertakers in his Lucky Luke series. His math teacher told his parents the boy would unfortunately never succeed in life, as he passed the math classes doodling in the margin of his math books. Morris started drawing in the Compagnie Belge d’Actualités (CBA) animations studios, a small and short-lived animation studios in Belgium where he met Peyo and André Franquin.[1] After the war, the company folded and Morris worked as an illustrator for Het Laatste Nieuws, a Flemish newspaper, and Le Moustique, a weekly magazine published by Dupuis, for which he made some 250 covers and numerous other illustrations, mainly caricatures of movie stars.[1]

He died in 2001 by an accidental fall.

Lucky Luke

He created Lucky Luke in 1946 for Spirou, the comics magazine published by Dupuis. Lucky Luke is a solitary cowboy who travels across the Wild West, helping those in need, aided by his faithful horse, Jolly Jumper. The first adventure, Arizona 1880, was published in L’Almanach Spirou 1947, released on 7 December 1946.[2]

Morris became one of the central artists of the magazine, and one of the so-called “La bande des quatre” (Gang of 4), with Jijé, André Franquin and Will.[1] He did not work at the house of Jijé, contrary to the other two, but all four became very good friends, stimulating each other artistically. Together they laid the foundation for the “Marcinelle school“, the typical style of comics of Spirou which contrasts both stylistically and thematically with the “Ligne claire” used by the group of artists associated with Hergé in Tintin magazine.

In 1948, Morris, Jijé and Franquin travelled to the United States (Will was too young and had to remain in Belgium). They wanted to get to know the country, see what was left of the Wild West, and meet some American comic artists. Morris stayed the longest of the three and only returned after 6 years. In the meantime he had worked for Mad, and met René Goscinny, a French comic artist and writer, who would write all the Lucky Luke stories between 1955 to his death in 1977. Goscinny was then still fairly unknown, but would become the most successful European comic writer, initially with Lucky Luke and a few years later with Asterix.[1]

The years in the USA became crucial for Morris, not only because he met Goscinny, but also because he gathered a great deal of documentation for his later work, and became familiar with the Hollywood films of the time. Morris introduced in the following years many cinematic techniques in his stories, like freeze-frames and close-ups. Walt Disney‘s style influenced him a lot which can be seen in the very round lines that characterize the early Lucky Luke albums.[3] Many characters in his comics are also clearly based on famous American actors such as Jack Palance, Gary Cooper, W.C. Fields and William Hart, although he also caricaturizes unexpected figures like Louis de Funès or Serge Gainsbourg.[1]

The first 31 adventures were published by Dupuis, but in the late sixties, Morris left Dupuis and Spirou and went to Dargaud and Pilote, the magazine started by his friend Goscinny.

In 1984, Hanna-Barbera made a series of 52 cartoons of Lucky Luke, thereby augmenting the popularity of the series even further. 52 more cartoons were made in the early 1990s, and three live action movies followed. A few videogames based on the series were also made, e.g. for the PlayStation 1 and the Game Boy Color. Lucky Luke is currently the best selling European comics series ever, with over 300 million copies sold in more than thirty languages.[1]

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Morris never worked on several series, although he made a great deal of illustrations for stories in the forties and fifties. In the nineties, he did make Rantanplan, a spin-off from Lucky Luke, starring the dumbest dog in the West.

In 2005 he ended on the 79th place in the french-speaking version of the election for De Grootste Belg (The Greatest Belgian)

Awards

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f De Weyer, Geert (2005). “Morris”. In België gestript, pp. 143-144. Tielt: Lannoo.
  2. ^ BDoubliées. “Spirou année 1946”. http://bdoubliees.com/journalspirou/annees/1946.htm
  3. ^ Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée, Brussels

External links