Sous le Ciel de l'Ouest (1952), cover of an early softcovered issue.
|First appearance||Spirou Almanach 47 (December 7, 1946)|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Partnerships||Jolly Jumper, Rintincan|
Lucky Luke is a humorous comics series created by Belgian cartoonist Morris in 1946. Various writers scripted the series starting in 1955, beginning with French writer René Goscinny. French artist Achdé has continued the series as artist since Morris's death in 2001.
The series takes place in the American Old West and features the titular Lucky Luke, a cowboy known as the "man who shoots faster than his shadow", accompanied by his horse Jolly Jumper and in many stories a dog named Rantanplan. Lucky Luke is charged with restoring justice to the Old West by chasing down bandits, the most famous of whom are the Dalton Brothers. The stories are filled with humorous elements parodying the Western genre.
Lucky Luke is one of the best-known and best-selling comics series in Europe and has been translated into numerous languages. 68 albums have appeared in the series as of 2014, at first published by Dupuis, then from 1968 by Dargaud, and from 1999 by Lucky Comics. Each story was first serialized in a magazine: in Spirou from 1946 ro 1967, in Pilote from 1967 to 1973, in Lucky Luke in 1974–75, in the French edition of Tintin in 1975–76, and in various other magazines since. The series has been adapted to various other media, such as animated films and television series, live-action films, video games, toys, and board games. 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.
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 Franco-Belgian comics magazine Spirou on December 7, 1946. 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. Ending a long run of serial publications in Spirou, the series shifted to Goscinny's Pilote magazine in 1967 with the story La Diligence, subsequently leaving publisher Dupuis for Dargaud.
After the death of Goscinny in 1977, several writers have filled the role of storyteller, including Raymond "Vicq" Antoine, Bob de Groot, Jean Léturgie and Lo Hartog van Banda. At the 1993 Angoulême International Comics Festival, Lucky Luke was given an honorary exhibition.
After Morris' death in 2001, French artist Achdé continued drawing new Lucky Luke stories in collaboration with writers Laurent Gerra, Daniel Pennac and Tonino Benacquista.
Lucky Luke comics have been translated into Afrikaans, Arabic, Bengali, Bosnian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (both in the Brazilian and Portuguese forms), Serbian, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Turkish, Vietnamese and Welsh.
A spin-off series called Rantanplan starring Luke's dimwitted canine sidekick began in 1987. It has been written over the years by several successive teams of writers and artists. The character also got a 76-episode animated television series in 2006.
A second spin-off series called Kid Lucky was designed in 1995, aimed at attracting a younger readership. This starred Luke as a little boy, a format that had been very popular with Spirou. Two albums starring this version of the character were released as part of the main series: Kid Lucky and Oklahoma Jim. These were credited to veteran writer Jean Léturgie and unknown artist Pearce, who was later revealed to be a joint pen name for Yann Lepennetier and Didier Conrad. The series was scrapped due to poor sales and the two albums removed from the official list of Lucky Luke albums. The series was however re-launched in 2011 as Les aventures de Kid Lucky d'après Morris, with Achdé now solely in charge of it. To date, Achdé has written three Kid Lucky albums, L'apprenti Cow-boy, Lasso périlleux and Statue Squaw, released in 2011, 2013 and 2015, respectively.
Although always described as a cowboy, Luke generally acts as a righter of wrongs or bodyguard of some sort, where he excels thanks to his resourcefulness and incredible gun prowess. A recurring task is that of capturing bumbling gangsters the Dalton brothers, Joe, William, Jack and Averell. 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.
Luke meets many historical Western figures like Calamity Jane, Billy the Kid, Judge Roy Bean and Jesse James's gang, and takes part in events 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 on the background to 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 the 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 his moving to New York in 1831. Judge Roy Bean, who was appointed judge in 1882, appears in another album, and in another album yet, Lucky Luke takes part in the 1892 Coffeyville shootout against the Dalton gang. Lucky Luke himself appears unchanged in all stories.
Except at the very early comics where he shoots and kills Mad Jim, Phil Defer and the old Dalton brothers gang in Coffeeville, Luke is never seen to kill anyone, preferring to disarm people by shooting weapons out of their hands.
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...".
Morris, who had 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". 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". On World No Tobacco Day in 1989, the magazine Spirou published a militantly anti-tobacco issue, #2668.
Morris won an award from the World Health Organization in 1988 when he replaced Luke's omnipresent cigarette with a wisp of straw in the story Fingers (1983). 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 1994 story Le Pont sur le Mississippi (The Bridge Over the Mississippi), he is seen rolling a cigarette again, although he claims it was just to hide his boredom. While in Sarah Bernhardt (1982) after despite Luke's strict orders to not light a fire, Bernhardt's cook has lit one to make a cake, Luke is seen rolling a cigarette in an irate mood, strikes a match only for it being blown out by Jolly Jumper who reminds him of his own "no fire" orders.
Some of the humour in Lucky Luke is based on clichés and stereotypes, including many ethnic stereotypes of "sneaky" Chinese or "lazy" Mexicans, Native Americans, Irish and Italians as well as "darky" depictions of Afro-Americans. According to the Forbidden Planet 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 satire, mirroring contemporary social platitudes." Luke himself however, treats everyone with respect and protects any vulnerable person (stereotype-or-not) against injustice.
Real-life persons who have appeared in Lucky Luke
By Morris (1949–1958)
By Morris & Goscinny (1957–1986)
By Morris and various writers (1980–2002)
By Achdé and various writers (since 2003)
70th anniversary issue
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".
Brockhampton Press Ltd, Leicester, began publishing the books in hardcover and softcover, with six titles from 1972 to 1974, translated by Frederick W Nolan. Brockhampton became part of Hodder & Stoughton Ltd in 1976, and under their children's imprint, Knight Books, Hodder published mini-sized paperback editions of the first six books, in 1976 to 1977. In 1980 and 1982, Hodder & Stoughton published three new titles as Hodder Dargaud, as well as reprints of the previous six.
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)
Hodder Dargaud (UK)
Dargaud USA and Canada
Fantasy Flight (US)
Ravette Books (UK)
Lucky Luke in other media
Xilam produced a theatrical animated film, Tous à l'Ouest (Go West: A Lucky Luke Adventure), which was released in France on December 5, 2007.
In 1983, Hanna-Barbera Productions, France 3, Gaumont Film Company, and Morris collaborated to release the animated TV series Lucky Luke which contained 26 episodes. The series' main voice actors were William Callaway as Lucky Luke, Robert Ridgely as Jolly Jumper, Paul Reubens as Bushwack, Frank Welker as Joe Dalton, Rick Dees as Jack Dalton, Fred Travalena as William Dalton, Bob Holt as Averell Dalton, and Mitzi McCall as Ma Dalton. Additional voices were provided by Peter Cullen, Pat Fraley, Barbara Goodson, and Mona Marshall.
In 1991, a new series of 26 épisodes is produced by IDDH, with the collaboration of Morris.
The 1992 live-action Italian television series, Lucky Luke, also known as The Adventures of Lucky Luke, was based on the films of the previous year, and again starred Terence Hill.
In 2001, Xilam produced the 52-episode animated series Les Nouvelles aventures de Lucky Luke (The New Adventures of Lucky Luke). It is available on 8 DVDs with French and English audio tracks. This series also featured Colonel Custer who in this incarnation is an Indian-hater and a dwarf.
Xilam produced two further animated series involving Lucky Luke: Rintindumb (2006) and Les Dalton (2010).
Over the years, several Lucky Luke video games have been 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. Lucky Luke: Go West was released in Europe for the PC, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS in the end of 2007.
In 2013, French publishers Dupuis and Anuman Interactive announced the development of a new Time Management game: Lucky Luke: Transcontinental Railroad, (set in the 1860s) on PC, Mac, iOS and Android.
- Lucky Luke - Tiger Handheld, 1984
- Lucky Luke - Infogrames, Commodore 64 - 1987
- Lucky Luke: The Video Game - Philips Interactive, Philips CD-i - 1996
- Lucky Luke - Infogrames, Game Boy (Europe Only) - 1996 and Game Boy Color - May 1999
- Lucky Luke - SNES (Europe Only) - October 1997 and PC
- Lucky Luke - Infogrames, PlayStation - 1998 and Windows (Europe Only) - 2000 as Lucky Luke: On the Dalton's Trail
- Lucky Luke: Desperado Train - Game Boy Color (Europe Only) - 2000 (Infogrames)
- Lucky Luke: Western Fever - PC and PlayStation (Europe Only) - 2001
- Lucky Luke: Wanted! - Game Boy Advance (Europe Only) - February 11, 2001 (Infogrames)
- Go West! A Lucky Luke Adventure - DS, PC, WII, 2007
In popular culture
In the Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels the permanent exhibition brings homage to the pioneers of Belgian comics, among them Morris. In the room dedicated to his work the entry has saloon doors and Luke's shadow can be seen on the floor and on the wall.
In 1992, as part of the Brussels' Comic Book Route, a wall in the Rue de la Buandrie/ Washuisstraat in Brussels was dedicated to "Lucky Luke". It was designed by D. Vandegeerde and G. Oreopoulos.
Lucky Luke is among the many Belgian comics characters to jokingly have a Brussels street named after them. Since 2007 the Rue des Pierres/ Steenstraat has a commemorative plaque with the name Rue Lucky Luke/ Lucky Luke straat placed under the actual street sign.
In the Rue Willy Ernst, in the Astrid Park in Charleroi, Belgium, a statue of Lucky Luke can be seen. In the underground railroad Métro Parc the walls are decorated with scènes from "Lucky Luke" albums.
In 2000 statues of Lucky Luke, Ratanplan and Joe Dalton were erected in the Jules Van den Heuvelstraat, Middelkerke, Belgium. They were designed by Luc Madou.
In 2015, Danish reggaeton band Kamilo & Grande released a single called Lucky Luke, in which they liken their lives to that of Lucky Luke.
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- BDGest. "Ducasse, Anne-Marie – La Bibliographie" (in French).
- BDoubliées. "Spirou année 1946" (in French).
- BDoubliées. "Spirou année 1955" (in French).
- Lambiek Comiclopedia. "Morris".
- "World Health Forum Vol 11 1990 footnote Les cahiers de la bande dessinée. No. 43, 1980, p. 11." (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "World Health Forum Vol 11 1990" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "Peopledaily.com.cn". Peopledaily.com.cn. 2006-08-23. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- Harrie Verstappen. "Thelooniverse.com". Thelooniverse.com. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- BDOubliées.com - 1989 Spirou index
- "ABCnews.com". Blogs.abcnews.com. 2006-08-22. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- Surette, Tim (2006-08-21). "TV.com". TV.com. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "Forbiddenplanet.co.uk". Forbiddenplanet.co.uk. 2009-06-30. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "Matthieu Bonhomme : " Je voulais que mon Lucky Luke soit un vrai cowboy "". France Inter (in French). Retrieved 10 May 2016.
- "Lucky Luke as "Buck Bingo" on the Forbidden Planet International Blog Log". Forbiddenplanet.co.uk. 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
- "Tous a l'ouest". Official movie website. Xilam Films. October 22, 2007. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-22.
- IGN Staff (November 3, 1998). "Lucky Luke: Infogrames brings a huge European cowboy to the US market and puts him on the discount rack.". IGN.com. IGN. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
- Agergaard, Rose. "The whole world rides with Camilo & Grande in their new musicvideo". Gaffa.dk (in Danish). Gaffa. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- Lefevre, Pascal. 1998. Lucky Luke, a 'lonesome cowboy' for more than half a century. In The Low Countries, 1998-1999. Rekkem: Stichting Ons Erfdeel.
- Lucky Luke official site (French)
- English publisher of Lucky Luke - Cinebook Ltd
- Lucky Luke English publications
- List of Lucky Luke games at MobyGames
- In Brussels, a wall is dedicated to Lucky Luke.
- German editions of Lucky Luke
- Goscinny website on Lucky Luke (French)
- Euro Book's Lucky Luke 24 Albums Set (2009)
- Cine Books Lucky Luke #1-10 Albums Set (2008)
- Tara Press's Lucky Luke 5 Albums Set (2007)
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