The Daltons (Lucky Luke)

The Dalton Gang's Cousins (Joe, William, Jack, and Averell) in their first appearance.

The Daltons are fictional outlaws who regularly appear in the Lucky Luke comic book series. They were created by artist Morris and writer René Goscinny. They are loosely inspired by the real-life Dalton Gang, and billed as their cousins. While the original Dalton brothers are depicted as evil and successful these Daltons are depicted as less skillful and more prone to fighting between the siblings. All four Daltons are depicted as identical except for in height, with the oldest brother Joe being the shortest and the youngest brother Averell being the tallest.

Their storylines often begin with the gang escaping from prison, followed around by prison dog Rantanplan as they try to carry out whatever plans Joe Dalton, or their mother Ma Dalton, has in mind. Usually the gang ends up back in jail at the end of the story as Lucky Luke rides off into the sunset. The characters have appeared both in the comic book version of Lucky Luke as well as the animated series and were also part of the spinoff series Rantanplan and starred in their own short story animated show that made its debut in 2010.

The original gang's appearance

The "real" Daltons Bob, Grat, Bill and Emmett appear in the Lucky Luke adventure "Hors-la-loi" written and drawn by Morris in 1951. Morris drew them absolutely identical in everything but height, which varied from Bob, the shortest and most dangerous, to the tallest Emmett. At the end of the story the Daltons are all killed in a raid in the town of Coffeyville, Kansas where two of the real-life Daltons, Bob and Grat, were also killed (In real life, Emmett was wounded in the Coffeyville shootout and subsequently jailed, while Bill Dalton did not take part in the raid).

In the most recent Lucky Luke story, history is being retold again as Emmett is indeed shown to have survived the Coffeyville shoot out and has since fathered a son which the cousins Daltons are now laying claim to. Just as Averell takes after Emmett (Both being the tallest member of the gang) Emmett Jr. takes after Averell in him being an enormous glutton and drawn to Averell's childish nature.

The fictional cousins

Morris regretted killing the Dalton gang which had proved popular with readers and decided to invent a second quartet that are introduced as cousins of the originals. By this point, the series had become more humorous and the violence featured was more slapstick and less lethal. These entirely fictional brothers are Joe, William, Jack, and Averell. They look just like their cousins and again each one of them is taller than the previous one, though they vary in personality: from Joe the hot-tempered leader to the dim-witted childlike Averell whose thoughts are focused mainly on food. These Daltons have appeared in many of Lucky Luke's adventures, typically breaking out of jail at the beginning and being sent back by Luke at the end. The prison dog Rantanplan is often assigned to help Luke in tracking them down.

The Daltons also appear in a spin-off series Rantanplan as well as many episodes of various Lucky Luke animated series. In another spin-off, Lucky Kid, they appeared in a story titled "Oklahoma Jim" in which they meet Lucky Luke for the first time as kids.

Joe Dalton

The shortest, oldest, angriest and least stupid of the brothers, Joe Dalton is the leader of the gang and masterminds their prison breaks and various schemes. Perpetually furious and motivated chiefly by an obsessive hatred of Lucky Luke and Rantanplan, Joe frequently beats up his younger brother Averell for his dim-wittedness. Joe is quick to draw his gun but fortunately not much of a shooter.

When the brothers split up in "To each on their own" Joe is the only one who continues robbing banks, coaches and trains, settling in a ghost town reveling in his new found wealth. Singing a parody on Lucky Luke's signature tune "I'm a rich lonesome outlaw and a long, long way from home."

William and Jack Dalton

William Dalton and Jack Dalton are the middle brothers who have somewhat colorless personalities and mostly act as a buffer between Joe and Averell, calming down the former and shutting up the latter. They often repeat the same sentence: "Calm down, Joe", "Joe, calm down". In their first appearance, Jack was a trigger-happy arms maniac and William a master of disguise, though Jack failed to defeat Lucky Luke by being too emotional when shooting at him, and William kept being recognized by Averell (whom Lucky Luke had captured first).[1] Those character traits weren't kept in the subsequent albums. William is usually the shorter of the two, but continuity mistakes sometimes switched them around: in Dalton City for instance, William is the taller of the two.

In "To each on their own" William goes out and becomes the boss of an illegal gambling hole while Jack becomes a corrupt politician. In both cases when Lucky Luke arrives with warrants for their arrest he finds that both brothers have used their new found status to get legal impunity.

Averell Dalton

Averell Dalton is the tallest, youngest and most stupid of the Daltons. Obsessed chiefly with food, Averell is sometimes prone to eating various non-edible items, such as soap, which he finds delicious. His very limited understanding of any situation and tendency to goof make him the weakest link of the gang. Averell is actually rather good-natured and not particularly interested in criminal activities, but he has almost no will of his own and simply follows his brothers.

But as was shown in several albums, when out on his own Averell is perfectly capable of taking care of himself. He boldly calls Lucky Luke out for hand-to-hand combat in the album in which he's introduced (and inadvertently triggers a brawl in the street outside the saloon he and Luke are in).[2] And after the brothers split up in "To each on their own" Averell befriends an Italian chef who he helps by working in the kitchen, expanding the line of dishes and later becomes involved with extortion of other surrounding restaurants and Maffia practices to expand the brand. Again as Lucky Luke arrives with a warrant for his arrest, he finds that Averell, thanks largely because of his new "family" has gotten legal impunity.

Other Daltons

There were other Daltons that either appear or are mentioned where they are the fictional relatives of the historic Daltons:

Appearance in albums

The Dalton brothers appeared in the following Lucky Luke albums:

  1. Les Cousins Dalton (12)
  2. L'Évasion des Dalton (15)
  3. Sur la piste des Dalton (17)
  4. Billy the Kid (20)
  5. Les Collines noires (21)
  6. Les Dalton dans le blizzard (22)
  7. Les Dalton courent toujours (23)
  8. Les Dalton se rachètent (26)
  9. L'Escorte (28)
  10. Tortillas pour les Dalton (31)
  11. Dalton City (34)
  12. Jesse James (35)
  13. Ma Dalton (38)
  14. L'Héritage de Rantanplan (41)
  15. Le Cavalier blanc (43)
  16. La Guérison des Dalton (44)
  17. Le Magot des Dalton (47)
  18. La Ballade des Dalton et autres histoires (48)
  19. "Les Dalton prennent le train" dans "La corde du pendu et autres histoires" (50)
  20. Daisy Town (51)
  21. Fingers (52)
  22. La fiancée de Lucky Luke (54)
  23. Nitroglycérine (57)
  24. "Olé Daltonitos" and "Un cheval disparaît" in "L'alibi" (58)
  25. Le Pony Express (59)
  26. L'Amnésie des Dalton (60)
  27. Les Dalton à la noce (62)
  28. Belle Starr (65)
  29. Oklahoma Jim (68)
  30. Marcel Dalton (69)
  31. Le prophète (70)
  32. La légende de l'ouest (72)
  33. La Corde au cou (75)
  34. Lucky Luke contre Pinkerton (77)
  35. Les tontons Dalton (81)

The Daltons in film and television

Several animated Lucky Luke films feature the Daltons, including:

The Hanna-Barbera cartoon in the 80s called Lucky Luke featured the fictional Dalton Brothers with Joe Dalton voiced by Frank Welker, Jack Dalton voiced by Rick Dees, William Dalton voiced by Fred Travalena, Averell Dalton voiced by Bob Holt, and Ma Dalton voiced by Mitzi McCall.

The animated TV series of the early 1990s, which closely adapted the comics, also featured the Daltons, including in "Hors-la-loi" in place of the original Daltons.

The Daltons appeared also in the first live action movie Lucky Luke and the follow-up TV series, in which they were portrayed by Ron Carey, Dominic Barto, Bo Greigh and Fritz Sperberg. Note that "Averell" was constantly misspelled as "Averill".

The Daltons also starred in a 2004 movie titled simply Les Dalton, in which Luke barely appeared and which got poor reviews.

The TV animation series The New Adventures of Lucky Luke (started in 2001) includes the four Dalton brothers in most episodes.

The film Go West includes the Daltons, even though the comic The caravan that served as inspiration to the movie does not.

Xilam Animation has produced an animated television series Les Dalton, focusing on the characters of the Daltons. The series contains 78 episodes of 8 minutes and started to air in fall 2010 in France.

In other media

Sources and references


  1. Goscinny; Morris (2010). The Dalton Cousins. Cinebook Ltd. pp. 35–40. ISBN 978-1-84918-076-4.
  2. Goscinny; Morris (2010). The Dalton Cousins. Cinebook Ltd. pp. 31–34. ISBN 978-1-84918-076-4.
  3. Dalton Terror
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