Lucky Luke Daisy Town cover header

Lucky Luke, v61: “Daisy Town” is a Great Introduction

Lucky Luke, v61: “Daisy Town”

Here’s the summary from the Cinebook website:

“In the Old West, towns grow like mushrooms. And the birth of a new city inevitably draws in desperados of all kinds. When Lucky Luke spends the night in brand new Daisy Town, he’s forced to do a little cleaning up, and his skills rather impress the local population. So much so that they offer him the job of sheriff. The city is soon crime-free – until the Dalton brothers ride into town…”

 

Entry Level “Lucky Luke”

I’ve read about 15 “Lucky Luke” albums. They’re great classic bits of humor writing.  Rene Goscinny didn’t need to prove that he could do that after “Asterix,” but “Lucky Luke” certainly proves he’s not a one hit wonder. (I’m not sure of the timing. I think he actually started “Lucky Luke” first, but I read “Asterix” first, so it all fits in my mind…)

And, of course, Morris’ art, sense of comedic timing, and acting is impeccable.

Combined, they make for great comics.

In my review of Lucky Luke v50: “Seven Stories,” I said that I would usually recommend “The Oklahoma Land Rush” as an entry-level “Lucky Luke” tale.

I take that back.

“Daisy Town” is the best entry point for this series I’ve yet read, and the best one I’ve read so far from the point of view as pure comedy.

The way Goscinny structures this comic is pitch perfect. You see how a small town develops in the old west and how it attracts the bad people and causes issues with the local Indian tribe.  We see the same archetypes (and, yes, stereotypes) populate the town quickly. It’s like a Greatest Hits version of Lucky Luke.

There’s a reason for that, which I’ll get into much later…

 

Cartoon Old West

“Daisy Town” is the story of the birth, growth, and maturity of a frontier town.  Goscinny and Morris tell it all in 48 pages.  Goscinny gives you the blimp-level view of how these things work. Along the way, he pokes a bit of fun at the circumstances that allow it to happen.  The book-ending fight between the town and the local Indian tribe is a prime example of that.  There’s a knowing nod from both sides that what they’re doing is ridiculous.  Save a little face, play a little politics, and you can all move on with life.  It’s not quite as life and death as it might seem to be.

“Lucky Luke” is a cartoonish take on the Old West.  Imagine the late 1800s as you might have seen them in a movie or TV show as a kid.  Cowboys versus Indians, crazy bar scenes, the player piano, the high noon showdowns, etc.  “Lucky Luke” plays into all of that, and it works.

Picture all the cartoon violence they don’t let you get away with on television anymore — guns that fire repeatedly and never hit anyone, knives tossed across the bar, drunken cowboys played for laughs, etc.   This is a book we would have read as kids that’ll probably get you in trouble in some places today.  (Cinebook officially rates it as 8 and up, which seems right to me.)

And then add in Lucky Luke, the cowboy who shoots faster than his shadow and is able to pull off moves like this:

Coin Shooting Gag from Lucky Luke v61 Daisy Town

So, yeah, don’t expect historical accuracy, though there’s a lot of stuff in the series that’s based on real people, places, and events.  Just enjoy the story and the way they tell it.  It is still a product of its time, in many ways, and keep that in mind if you have to.  (Lucky Luke gave up smoking in the 1980s, officially, but was still rolling his own cigarettes in this book.  On the cover, he’s got the straw piece in his mouth.)

Morris’ direction with the art sells every gag to the heights.  Goscinny’s story has great rising action in it, to the point where the final scene includes the Old West equivalent of rush hour gridlock and confusion involving multiple parties.  I won’t spoil it here, but it did make me laugh out loud.
 

The Daltons, Again

I’m kind of sick of The Daltons, to tell you the truth. They often feel played out, like we’re just seeing dumb personality traits personified for the sake of giving Luke something to work against.  Not that that isn’t true in most comedies, but it’s always these same four guys.  I’d like to see new villains.

The Daltons run for office in Daisy Town

But they worked here for me.  It’s not that they’re doing anything new or suddenly developing well-rounded multi-dimensional personalities. No, it’s just that they’re used so perfectly.  They show how weak-kneed and lacking in true leadership the townsfolk are, how self-defeating they can be, and how good Lucky Luke is at his job.  They succeed at all of that.

It’s also made me wonder if I’m starting to turn a corner with the Daltons.  Maybe I’m getting used to them enough that I am starting to like them showing up as often as they do?  Let me get back to you on this after I’ve read another three or four books…

 

Writing Against Drawing

The opening pages are also a great case of how writing can work with acting.

Rene Goscinny doesn’t just explain what’s happening in umpteen caption boxes while Morris blandly illustrates it.  They work together, or against each other for comedic effect.

Goscinny refers to “the essential,”  but you wouldn’t know what that is without Morris’ drawing of a saloon. Jail is referred to just as “the obligatory.”  And on it goes.

Here, let me just give you the first three pages of the book, which builds up Daisy Town and introduces Lucky Luke to it. Click on the images for bigger versions.

 

Page 1

Lucky Luke v61 DaisyTown page 1

This is where “the essential” comes into play.  It’s such a perfect name for a saloon in a Wild West town.  Clever and poetic, both.

And, of course, there’s a good gag on the last tier involving “some punch.”  I wonder what the original French language on this one was.  Give credit to translator Jerome Saincantin for the gag, in the meantime.

Page 2

Lucky Luke v61 DaisyTown page 2

Goscinny builds on “the essential” with “the obligatory” and “the rest” on page two.

Pay careful attention to the third tier, where the piano player plays as the movers off-loaded the piano,  He never misses a beat.  Every saloon needs that guy and he must start immediately!

 

Page 3

Lucky Luke v61 DaisyTown page 3

I love the mortician in this series. I love that dark, morbid humor. It’s handled so lightly, but it strikes my particular funny bone.

Check out the visual gag at the top, showing which way you can shoot at a busy street corner.  Great gag.

And then Lucky Luke moseys into town in the last two tiers.  His is the characteristically calm one walking through a throng of craziness, from fighting in the streets to bar brawls in the saloon. Things only get funnier from there.

 

The Daisy Town Movie

i.e. The Origin Story for This Album

The first “Lucky Luke” animated feature came out in 1971.  Morris and Goscinny get writing credits for the movie, along with a half dozen others.

It was titled — wait for it — “Daisy Town.”

The movie was meant, for obvious reasons, to be an introduction to the world of Lucky Luke, and used some bits and pieces from prior albums to fill out its plot and cast.

That would explain why I think this is such a good entry point for new readers of the series. They wrote it that way.

It also explains how Goscinny wrote a book published in 1983, when he died in 1977.  It’s an adaptation of the movie he was a writer on, basically.

You can find the movie on YouTube:

 

I’ve watched a little bit of it, and it didn’t surprise me to see some of the jokes from the album ran longer in the movie.

Point of trivia: This English language version of the movie was done with Rich Little.  He did all the voices for the movie, which is why most sound like the types of celebrities he used to impersonate.

Even more interestingly, they made a promotional video for the movie, showing how it was made.  It features an interview with Morris as he draws on his sketchpad, and Goscinny who comically hammers away on his typewriter.  It’s in French, so I can only pick out a phrase here and there, but it’s still fun to watch Morris draw…

 


 

Recommended?

Yes, of course it is. In fact, it’s the first book I’d now recommend to someone looking to try Lucky Luke for the first time.   And now we know why!  It’s the comic based on the movie based on the comic that is, in parts, based on history and Hollywood.

Just read it; it’s funny.

(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #9 of 100 for 2017.)

17 Comments

  • JC Lebourdais January 23, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Hi Augie,
    Yes you’re right, the movie version of this came out first, back when Goscinny was still alive (I remember heavy promo on french and Belgian TV at the time). There was an associated album out simultaneously but with prose narration coupled with stills from the movie (I felt cheated when I bought it back then– it has a black cover background if you want to trace it). The sequential version only came out later in album form, as it was serialized in some magazine a few years before, in a similar way to the Asterix album ‘The Twelve Labours’ and some Tintin stories which were strips before being turned into albums. I don’t have the original album at hand so I can’t check the end gag on page 1 but I can remember that he’s asking for a drink with some kick (translation is not perfect but still pretty good, considering that Goscinny’s humour was sometimes topical (and sometimes political) rooted in 60’s and 70’s french pop culture and his mastery of the French language). I read those books many times as I grew up and was delighted to find so many layers of subtlety as I became old enough to get them. Goscinny has no equivalent in American comics, he is truly a genius on par with French masters of contemporary Literature. His style was heavily influenced by Harvey Kurtzman and the early Mad Magazine.

    Reply
    • Augie January 23, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      Thanks for the memory on that gag. “Punch” or “Kick” would both work, so long as the phrase holds the same meaning in its native tongue. I’m always amazed — especially with Asterix — at how much magic the translators have to pull off to make these books sound so natural in English.

      I’m still getting a feel for Lucky Luke, even after all this time, so thanks for the history lesson. I know Goscinny is associated with the best of the series, but I don’t know that I’ve read more than one album he didn’t do yet.

      Though I would like to see the books Didier did in the 90s under a pen name, just because I like his art so much.

      Reply
      • JC Lebourdais January 23, 2017 at 3:30 pm

        I agree, translation/adaptation is an art, maybe a lost one.
        Some post-Goscinny LLs do have merit but it really feels like a different series (like Asterix, really, and all the other series RG was writing (for example he did LA RUBRIQUE A BRAC with Marcel Gotlib for PILOTE in the 60s, which is one of my all-time favourites, but I doubt it can ever be translated.

        Reply
  • JC Lebourdais January 23, 2017 at 8:33 am

    I forgot to add that if you’re looking for a screen version of this story, you’ll find several, three, maybe four. The movie was obviously the first (very high graphic quality at the time, much better than the contemporary Asterix movies). However, Lucky Luke had a couple of TV series from the 80’s onwards, in which they tried adapting the albums, sometimes adding or removing stuff for no good reason. Animation there was usually sub-par (imagine your average Hanna-Barbera cartoon) and not many laughs to be had, sadly. I have a full set of DVDs gathering dust in a box somewhere. Lucky Luke at its core was rooted in the classic American western movies, for the first ten or so albums, then took a turn when Goscinny absorbed the Sergio Leone vein with its sometimes slapstick physical humour that italians seem to love, and integrated it into the series. That’s when it attained the peak of its success. From the 80’s on, it sadly went downhill as other writers tried to emulate Goscinny’s wonderful magic touch but none ever came close.

    Reply
  • JC Lebourdais January 23, 2017 at 10:18 am

    btw, stupid question: Is there a full index of past articles on this site somewhere or do I have to go month by month through the archives if I want to find something?

    Reply
    • Augie January 23, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      You an search by categories instead of months if you just want the BD stuff, or the links to the columns on ComicBook.com, for example.Otherwise, yeah, at the moment it’s just going month to month.

      The ultimate goal for this site is for it to be more of a magazine than a blog. Part of that will require a reorganization of content and some summary pages and whatnot. I couldn’t do it at first because I hadn’t written enough stuff yet. I think I’m getting to that point now, where some extra guidance would be helpful.

      P.S. Yes, there are also too many categories. I tried anticipating what I might write about on this site when it first started, and didn’t generalize enough. I need to fix that, too.

      Reply
      • JC Lebourdais January 23, 2017 at 3:35 pm

        Fair enough, I can live with that. thanks for the effort you put into it regardless.

        By the way, I just reread the article and I notice you have a paragraph mentioning “the Dawsons” up there; I assume you mean the Daltons, right? I don’t think their names are translated differently in english, are they? Not sure how I missed it the first time.

        Reply
        • JC Lebourdais January 25, 2017 at 7:45 am

          Silly idea: How about putting a ‘Home’ button somewhere, for starters?

          Reply
          • Augie January 25, 2017 at 9:19 am

            Click on the “Pipeline Comics” banner at the top of the page. That’s a standard convention in web design.

          • JC Lebourdais January 25, 2017 at 12:23 pm

            Which proves how ignorant I am about web design 🙂 Thanks for the tip and sorry for sounding obnoxious sometimes.

          • Augie January 26, 2017 at 7:47 am

            Not a problem. It’s good to be reminded once in a while that not everyone works in web design. 😉

  • augiedb January 23, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Yikes. Yes, it should be the Daltons. I don’t know how that one slipped through…. I’ll go fix it now. Thanks!

    Reply
  • JC Lebourdais January 23, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    No worries, I guessed you were a closeted James Van Der Beek fan or something lol

    Reply
    • Augie January 23, 2017 at 5:56 pm

      Even better – I went to school with him. For one year. He was a grade or two younger than I was. Then he left because he got a role on a new show called “Dawson’s Creek.” He never came back. But I watched every episode. 😉

      Reply
  • JC Lebourdais January 23, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    There goes your freudian slip ;-D

    Reply
  • Mario Lebel February 24, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Man, the huge wave of nostalgia that hits me every time I see Morris’s art. BAM! Love this stuff to pieces.

    A few of my dad’s volumes are crumbling and I’m pleased to see it’s because the books were well loved and well read, rather than due to neglect.

    Aaaah, I’ll have to raid his BD collection next time I visit him.

    Reply
  • A Beautiful Western About Death: Undertaker v1: "The Gold Eater" - Pipeline Comics May 29, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    […] explain it. I can’t.  It just is.  I’ve covered a few Lucky Luke comics here (“Daisy Town“, “Seven Stories, “The Man Who Shot Lucky Luke“), but there are also more […]

    Reply

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