Sous le Ciel de l'Ouest (1952), cover of an early softcovered issue
|First appearance||Spirou Almanach 47 (7 December, 1946)|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Partnerships||Jolly Jumper, Rantanplan|
Lucky Luke is a Western bande dessinée series created by Belgian cartoonist Morris in 1946. Morris wrote and drew the series single-handedly until 1955, after which he started collaborating with French writer René Goscinny, who also created the Astérix series. Their partnership lasted until Goscinny's death in 1977. Afterwards, Morris collaborated with several other writers, until his own death, in 2001. Since Morris's death, French artist Achdé has drawn the series, aided by the work of other writers.
The series takes place in the American Old West of the United States. It stars the titular Lucky Luke, a gunslinger known as the "man who shoots faster than his shadow", and his intelligent horse Jolly Jumper. Lucky Luke is pitted against various villains, either fictional or inspired by American history or folklore. The most famous of these are the Dalton Brothers, loosely based on the Dalton Gang of the early 1890s. 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. It has been translated into 23 languages. 81 albums have appeared in the series as of 2019, and 3 special editions/homages, at first published by Dupuis. From 1968 to 1998 they were published by Dargaud. Since 1999 they have been published by Lucky Comics. Each story was first serialized in a magazine: in Spirou from 1946 to 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 also had adaptations in 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, African and Asian languages.
Both a tribute to the mythic Old West and an affectionate parody, the comics were created by Belgian artist Morris. who drew Lucky Luke from 1946 until his death in 2001. The first Lucky Luke adventure, Arizona 1880, appeared in the French version of the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Spirou in October 1946. It later appeared in the Almanach issue of Spirou on 7 December 1946.
After several years of writing the strip himself, Morris began a collaboration with René Goscinny. He was the series writer during what is considered its golden age, 1955 to his death in 1977. This started with the story "Des rails sur la Prairie," published on 25 August 1955 in Spirou. Ending a long run of serial publications in Spirou, the series was shifted to Goscinny's Pilote magazine in 1967 with the story "La Diligence." Later it was taken to Dargaud publisher.
After the death of Goscinny in 1977, several writers succeeded him: 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, Persian, Polish, Portuguese (both in the Brazilian and Portuguese forms), Serbian, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Turkish, Vietnamese and Welsh.
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 prison guard dog Rantanplan, "the stupidest dog in the universe", a spoof of Rin Tin Tin.
Luke meets many historical Western figures such as 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 in the first few stories, where he shoots and kills Mad Jim and the old Dalton brothers gang in Coffeyville, Luke is never seen to kill anyone, preferring to disarm people by shooting weapons out of their hands.
Phil Defer was killed in the first publication in Le Moustique, but in the later album collection, this was changed into a debilitating shoulder wound.
In the final panel of each story, except the earliest, Lucky Luke rides off alone on Jolly Jumper into the sunset, singing (in English) "I'm a poor lonesome cowboy, and a long way from home...".
Historical figures who have appeared in Lucky Luke
- Hadji Ali
- Black Bart
- Roy Bean
- Sarah Bernhardt
- Alexei Alexandrovich – fictionalized as Grand Duke Leonid in Le Grand Duc (1973)
- Billy the Kid
- Buffalo Bill
- Edwin Drake
- James B. Eads
- Dalton Gang
- Virgil, Morgan and Wyatt Earp
- Horace Greeley
- Hatfield and McCoy - fictionalized as O'Haras and O'Timmins in Les Rivaux de Painful Gulch (1962)
- Old Man Clanton
- Ike, Billy and Phineas Clanton
- Rutherford B. Hayes
- Doc Holliday
- Jesse James
- Frank James
- Cole Younger
- Calamity Jane
- Scott Joplin
- Abraham Lincoln
- Jack London
- George Maledon
- Joshua Norton – fictionalized as Dean Smith in L'Empereur Smith (1976)
- Soapy Smith
- Isaac C. Parker
- Allan Pinkerton
- Frederic Remington
- Mattie Silks
- Belle Starr
- Mark Twain
- Annie Oakley
- Brigham Young
- P.T. Barnum
- Upton Sinclair
- Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi
- Gustave Eiffel
- Victor Hugo
- Ulysses S Grant
- Bass Reeves
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".
Morris received an award from the World Health Organization in 1988 for replacing 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. And in Sarah Bernhardt (1982), when Bernhardt's cook lights a fire to make a cake, despite Luke's strict orders not to, Luke is seen rolling a cigarette in an irate mood. He then strikes a match, only for it to be blown out by Jolly Jumper, who reminds him of his own "no fire" orders.
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 four Kid Lucky albums, L'apprenti Cow-boy, Lasso périlleux, Statue Squaw and Suivez la flèche, released in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017, respectively. In June 2020, It was announced Kid Lucky will be adapted into an animated series.
By Morris (1949–1958)
By Morris & Goscinny (1957–1986)
By Morris and various writers (1980–2002)
By Achdé and various writers (since 2003)
Special editions and homages
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 in softcover album format 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.
In 2019 Cinebook began releasing a hardcover collection of Lucky Luke, published in chronological order featuring three to four original albums per volume together with a vast amount of extras included, titled Lucky Luke - The Complete Collection.
List of single albums in English
- The Man Who Shot Lucky Luke, 2016
- Cowboy in Training, 2017
- Dangerous Lasso, 2017
- Statue Squaw, 2017
Lucky Luke in other media
Animation: Goscinny directed and co-produced three animated Lucky Luke films:
- Daisy Town (1971)
- La Ballade des Dalton (1978)
- Les Dalton en cavale ("The Daltons on the Loose") (1983)
The French company Xilam produced a theatrical animated film:
Live-action: Two Italian live-action films were released, both starring Terence Hill:
- Lucky Luke (1991)
- Lucky Luke 2 (1991)
Two French live-action films:
- Les Dalton (2004), featuring Til Schweiger as Lucky Luke
- Lucky Luke (2009), starring French actor Jean Dujardin as the gunslinger
Three Turkish live-action films:
- Red Kit (1970), starring Izzet Gunnay
- Atını Seven Kovboy (1975), starring Sadri Alisik
- Red Git (2007)
One Iranian live-action film:
- The return of Lucky Luke (2015), featuring Siavash Kheirabi as Lucky Luke
In 1983, Hanna-Barbera Productions, France 3, Gaumont Film Company, Extrafilm Berlin and Morris collaborated to release the animated TV series Lucky Luke which contained 26 episodes, based on original album stories. 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. Notably, an episode of H-B's The Huckleberry Hound Show featured Huck as an Old West Sheriff attempting to capture a separate Dalton family (named Dirty, Dangerous, Detestable, Desperate, Despicable, Dastardly and Dinky)
In 1991, a new animated series of 26 episodes was produced by IDDH, with the collaboration of Morris, based on album stories not adapted in the prior series.
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 was made available on an eight-disc DVD set with French and English audio tracks. This series also featured Colonel Custer who in this incarnation is an Indian-hater and a dwarf. Unlike the two earlier animated series, this series featured original stories.
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).
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: Nitroglycerine - Coktel Vision, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, MS-DOS, Thomson TO - 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 and PC (Europe Only) - October 1997
- 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) - 11 February 2001 (Infogrames)
- Go West! A Lucky Luke Adventure - DS, PC, Wii, 2007
Tributes to Lucky Luke
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 the 2010 Obsidian Entertainment-developed, Bethesda Softworks-published fourth major installment of the popular Role-playing video game series Fallout, Fallout: New Vegas, posters appear in-game, as well as in some loading screens, stating "There's a new sheriff in town and he's looking for deputies [...] Become a part of the human dignity bloc". Accompanying this text is an image of a frontier-era sheriff doing a Finger gun motion with both hands. Aside from the star-shaped sheriff badge he wears, the sheriff is dressed identically to Lucky Luke, sporting his trademark white hat, yellow shirt, black vest, and red bandana tied around his neck.
- BDGest. "Leonardo, Vittorio – La Bibliographie" (in French).
- BDGest. "Ducasse, Anne-Marie – La Bibliographie" (in French).
- BDGest. "Mel – La Bibliographie" (in French).
- Betrand, Christelle et. Lucky Luke nouvelle intégrale 1. Dupuis. ISBN 978-2-8001-6740-4.
- 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 14 February 2012.
- "World Health Forum Vol 11 1990" (PDF). Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- "Peopledaily.com.cn". Peopledaily.com.cn. 23 August 2006. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- Harrie Verstappen. "Thelooniverse.com". Thelooniverse.com. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- "ABCnews.com". Blogs.abcnews.com. 22 August 2006. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- Surette, Tim (21 August 2006). "TV.com". TV.com. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- "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. 15 July 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- "Tous a l'ouest". Official movie website. Xilam Films. 22 October 2007. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
- IGN Staff (3 November 1998). "Lucky Luke: Infogrames brings a huge European cowboy to the US market and puts him on the discount rack". IGN.com. IGN. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
- Thanasis, About The Author (26 August 2013). "Anuman Interactive announces Lucky Luke: Transcontinental Railroad". Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- "Lucky Luke: The Video Game Release Information for CD-I - GameFAQs". Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- Belgisch Centrum van het Beeldverhaal Brussel (in Dutch). Accessed 19 December 2019.
- "Lucky Luke Comic Strip Wall". Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- "eBru | Bruxelles Capitale de la Bande Dessinée (BD) - Noms de rue". Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- "Forum Inedispirou :: Mr Coyote au pays de Spirou et Fantasio : Spirou en général". Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lucky Luke.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Lucky Luke (in French)|
- Lucky Luke official site (in 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 (in 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)