Ducoboo t5 cover detail

Ducoboo v5: “Lovable Dunce”

It’s Not Very Good. Not Very Good At All

This is the first bandes desinees book I couldn’t finish. It’s just… not terribly good.  I started skipping around, looking for any sign that I had misjudged it, but kept coming up empty.

Ducoboo (by Godi and Zidrou) is a “pitifully inept” student who makes his teacher’s life a living hell and is awful to the girl he shares a desk with most of the time. He’s socially difficult, a consistent cheater in class, and mean towards younger children.

He sounds like just the sort of character you’d want to read about, doesn’t he?

No, no you don’t.

He’s a bad person, the type who dragged every kids’ class down along with him. On occasion, he gets clever about all of that, but then it’s even worse — so he is smart, but he acts like an idiotic jerk on purpose because that seems like more fun?   Grrrrr.

Ducoboo annoys his teacher

It’s possible I have some issues here.  I was the well-behaved one in class who had to suffer through the annoyances and the interrupters. My wife is a teacher, so I know what special kind of pain such misbehaved students can be.

I’m all for anti-heroes and characters who are rough around the edges and do some bad things, but Ducoboo is just a jerk without a redeeming quality, and the joke writing isn’t sharp enough to cover that up.

I’m hoping there’s some societal issue I’m not aware of in France that makes this a potent laugh factory. Maybe my viewpoint is too skewed in a different direction, or perhaps this whole series is a riff on another popular French cultural artifact that I’m unaware of.

I kinda doubt it, but maybe?

Ducoboo cheats off the girl sitting next to him.
He’s also a cheater. Did I mention that yet?


It’s Not ALL Bad

The cartooning is good enough.  There are elements of that Franquin style, but this is far enough away from being a copy.  There’s plenty of backgrounds where they’re needed, with enough small details to make for convincing locations.  When it’s just the teacher and student going back and forth, those backgrounds drop out, but that’s OK. They’re not needed at that point.

The album is a series of single page gags.  Some of them drag on a bit too far. Others just don’t have a big enough punchline to justify the lead-up.  The good news with this format is that if one falls flat, there’s 40+ more gags in the book.  Nobody is going to get 100%, but the percentage in this book is far too low for me to recommend.

There’s also an attempt on a few occasions to make Ducoboo more sympathetic and likable, but they don’t go far enough to erase the memories of all the other pages.


No. Pass.

It’s OK, Ducoboo doesn’t find me funny, either:

Ducoboo does not think I'm funny.


(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #22.)

What do YOU think? (First time commenters' posts may be held for moderation.)


  1. Yeah this is very French. We have this inherent defiance towards authority. And there is a sort of pride for successful adults to say they were bad in school, true or not, this is a combination of catholic, Latin and revolutionary roots. No wonder it feels so alien to you.
    Also, this series is not very good. For a better take on this part of French culture, see Le petit Nicolas or Le petit Spirou or Titeuf.

  2. Btw, Ducobu was turned into a couple of movies recently, that’s telling how good it sells around here, for something quite mediocre. Have a look into your Netflix queue 🙂 Bottom line is that it’s mostly for kids and unlike Smurfs or Asterix, it doesn’t have multiple layers of understanding.

  3. I just looked at their Wikipedia page and it seems that they sold several millions of this, something like 150k per volume. And these are 2011 numbers. That’s impressive.

  4. We do have some “defiance towards authority” here, also. See “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, for one big example. Or most episodes of “Saved by the Bell.” 😉 But those characters usually have some kind of charm that wins you over even when you disagree with what they’re doing. Ducoboo lacks that for me. Maybe that’s because something is lost in the translation…

    I’m afraid to look at Netflix to see if those movies are up there.

    I’ll be reviewing a “Billy and Buddy” (“Boulet et Bill”, non?) book here soon. Definitely a kids book, but still enjoyable to a certain degree. I can like those two. Ducoboo, though — ICK.

  5. Never seen Ferris Bueller but I loved Saved by the Bell! The plots were silly but I had a crush on Jessie 😀
    Now in all seriousness, that’s tame compared to the way we educate children here with puppets whose message is that it’s okay to beat cops for fun (look it up, it’s called Guignol & Gnafron) so that attitude can get nasty sometimes, especially now that suburbs have access to heavy weaponry.
    Boule et Bill is a true great classic from Spirou Magazine, you can’t go wrong with that. The earlier volumes are really rooted in the 60’s though, so the gags might be a bit dated (Nuclear family and all that, traditional gender roles, pipe-smoking father, kitchen-bound mother, you get the picture). They made a movie of that one too, and 3 or 4 cartoon series over the years I think.