Lucky Luke v71 Lucky Luke in Paris cover detail by Achde
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Lucky Luke v71: “A Cowboy in Paris” Keeps the Statue of Liberty Safe

It was the hottest publishing event in the fall of 2018: America’s fastest-shooting cowboy heads to Paris, home of the world of BD publishing. When cultures collide, hilarity results!

It’s not perfect, but it is entertaining…

Parisian Credits

Writers: Jul
Artist: Achde
Letterer: Design Amorandi
Translator: Jerome Saincantin
Published by: Cinebook
Number of Pages: 48
Original Publication: 2018

What’s Going On?

The Statue of Liberty's hand pops up in the middle of the Western plains.  Lucky Luke and Jolly Jumper are on the case!

Lucky Luke comes across the torch from the Statue of Liberty on display in the middle of the country. Jolly Jumper assumes it’s an ice cream stand and we’re off to the comedic races!

Nope, it’s just Auguste Bartholdi, touring with part of his latest creation in an attempt to raise funds to build the rest of the Statue of Liberty. Luke gets drafted in to provide security for the trip, particularly against one businessman who wants to own the same land the Statue is scheduled to be built on.

That takes Luke to Paris, where he gets to tour the city and save the work-in-progress Lady Liberty from diabolical plots.

Is It Any Good?

For the most part, yes. It goes a little too far with all the cultural references at the expense of the plot, but I enjoyed it.

There’s a certain structure that works best on a book like this. The jokes are important and a big draw, but they need to happen in the framework of a larger plot. It’s ok for the jokes to extend a scene past the bare minimum. That’s where you want the jokes to occur — during the plot.

Who doesn’t like a character named Augie?!?

In this book’s case, we start with a misunderstanding between Bartholdi and his hand statue with the local Native Americans. Lucky Luke gets caught up in-between. He’s able to calm the heated exchange, but there’s still a series of jokes about how it looks at first like a roving ice cream stand. Even the Daltons get in on the gags.

The story is taken care of in that it gets Bartholdi and Luke together, as well as laying out all the necessary exposition. The humor occurs in and around that.

When Lucky Luke enters the hyper-secure prison he’s taking the Daltons to, there’s a page-long gag about how security won’t let him or his horse in without taking off their shoes. It helps to sell the point of the ridiculously secure prison, and it tells a funny gag that mirrors the modern world well.

There’s a bit with a canary that I’m not sure I get. It looks like a gag on the “Get Out of Jail Free” card from Monopoly, but I’m not sure if that was the point or if there’s some kind of French cultural thing going on here that they couldn’t translate to work properly.

Also, did they need a full page to show that the prison warden is super detailed about security or that he’s going too far with it? No, but that’s OK. It’s funny. That’s humor in the framework of the story, with just a slightly larger beat than usual.

When the book has those moments, it’s great.

Then the Action Moves to Paris

The problem with this book is that it loses some of the plot halfway through when the action moves to France. All of the work done in the first half is to set up the story, but then the conflict feels squandered.

There’s not much drama. The attempts made to destroy the Statue are so simple and so easily overcome that it’s tough to get too worked up over them. One leads to a half-hearted and quickly ended chase, but I just didn’t find much of it entertaining.

It felt like the plot was a victim of the need to stuff as many Parisian references into the story as they could. To that end, the book is a rousing success.

Victor Hugo meets Lucky Luke

You get references to cobblestone roads and their use in the May 1968 riots, to poets and novelists and architecture. You get Victor Hugo, because he fits into the time frame, as well.

But I get it — this is a big event in France. This is a cultural icon of theirs — well, technically, it’s Belgium’s, but it was published through France — that’s coming to visit their land, so it’s natural to want to milk every gag out of Luke’s reactions to the readership’s home country.

Overall, as weird as this might sound, this book feels like it has too many jokes. It’s out of balance for what a strong volume of “Lucky Luke” can be.

The humor is good, the art is great, but the whole isn’t as good as the sum of its parts.

Are Lucky Luke's colors the same as the Belgian flag on purpose?

( I did really enjoy the gag about how Luke looks Belgian because he’s dressed in black, red, and yellow, though. And any comic that includes a character named Augie — in this case, Auguste Bartholdi — is a worthy one… )

The Art of Achde

Achde’s art is convincing. He’s obviously working in the style of Morris. It says that right on the cover.

He’s not a complete copy of Morris’ style, but it’s close enough. The characters are well-designed. They fit into this world.

His storytelling matches Morris’ style, too, with occasional wide angles showing crowded locations paired up with closer angles that remove backgrounds in favor of solid colors.

Achde does deviate from it here and there. There is a full page splash in this book and two half-page panels on another. That kind of bold imagery is not what Morris or his entire generation would normally have drawn. I give him credit for that.

Part of me wonders, though, if the “In the Style of Morris” part doesn’t go too far. The coloring style of the original Lucky Luke is no doubt largely influenced by what was possible with printing presses of the time. The reason everything is so simple with bold solid colors is just that it’s all the presses could handle.

I’m not saying they should go to a full 3D sculpted coloring style with the series, but I’d like to see it mixed up better. Keep the art in Morris’ style, but change the colors to another style that’ll help tell the story well.

Sidebar: Things That Remind Me of Asterix

One’s a direct reference. The other comes out of my head.

First, there’s this reference to the Sphinx:

A Sphinx reference from Lucky Luke "A Cowboy in Paris"

But everyone knows how the Sphinx really lost its nose! That’s right — blame Obelix!

From "Asterix in Cleopatra," Obelix destroys the Sphinx's nose, perhaps 1400 years in advance of when we thought it happened...

(In truth, nobody’s completely sure what happened to the nose. The stories of Napoleon’s men shooting cannons at it for practice are probably apocryphal. There are signs it was gone before 1400 A.D.)

The other reference is more direct:

Parc Asterix is just north of Paris. It’s celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. EuroDisney/Disneyland Paris is not too far away from there, either, but I don’t think Auguste is referencing Mickey Mouse there. I suppose you could argue that point and say that Jul is leaving it to the reader, but I’m still betting on the Gauls.

Recommended?

Lucky Luke v71 -- "Lucky Luke in Paris" -- cover by Achde and Jul

I’m torn. It’s far from the worst Lucky Luke book I’ve ever read. There are lots of good parts, but it does rely too much on the cultural references for its humor, I think. If you live in France, that might just be the draw for you.

Heck, I love “Asterix in Belgium” despite some of its story shortcomings, for similar reasons. Either I’m a complete hypocrite, or just a normal human.

“A Cowboy in Paris” is not a bad book. Compared to most of the post-Morris Lucky Luke books I’ve read, it’s practically a gem. It’s just missing more in the story department to make it a great one.

I like it, but my enthusiasm is muted.

— 2019.003 —

Buy It Now

It’s good news for those of you who are “print only.” Cinebook published a print English language edition of this book about a month or two after it hit shelves in Paris. You can pick that up at Amazon now:

Buy this book on Amazon

Or, you can get it digitally through Amazon, Izneo, or Comixology:

Click here to buy digital BD comics albums through Izneo.com
Buy this book on Comixology
Buy this book on Amazon

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

17 Comments

  1. This review (and past ones) got me thinking: have you ever considered a regular LUKE review ala’ ASTERIX AGENDA, especially since Cinebook is rolling out a complete collection this year and beyond? It’ll be fun (and hilarious) hearing your thoughts and I’m just curious what stories you disliked.

    1. Hi Jonathan – Yes, that’s something I’ve considered, but — yikes, there’s 71 books there now! 😉 I like Lucky Luke and will definitely continue to review them as I read them, but I think I’d burn out on trying to get through all of them in a compressed time frame like a year. I’ve also noticed that the quality drops off very quickly once you get past the Goscinny/Morris era of the series. (You can do a search on “Lucky Luke” in the upper right corner and I’m sure one or two of those reviews will pop up.) Maybe if I narrowed it down to just the Morris-drawn books or the Goscinny-written books, I could get through them all. That’s something to consider….

      1. Actually, there’s 80 Lucky Luke books if you do the original French language order in France and Belgium.

        1. As of now there is 80 books probably later this year in 2020, they’ll have an 81st book in the Lucky Luke series.

      2. Perhaps it could just be an ongoing series of reviews, without a deadline and with some parameters in place to limit the scope, such as only reviewing the Goscinny/Morris era. We wouldn’t want you to burn out 🙂

        1. That sounds do-able. Just give it an over-all title for the “series,” and review them as time allows. That could happen. I’m sure once I review one, I might get some quick momentum and review others. It could happen…. And, yeah, I’d definitely stick to the Goscinny/Morris era only. I don’t have the patience to even enjoy writing entertaining-yet-negative reviews. 😉

          1. You know Augie, as I said in your review of 7 Stories, that next year in 2021 is Lucky Luke’s 75th birthday.

  2. Well I just finished the French version of it and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I found it pretty good! Sure the dialogue is a bit wooden at the beginning but there are a lot of good jokes and the writer managed to cram so many literary references in there that I was quite impressed. I sighed at the obligatory Trump joke then laughed out loud the very next page at the Frozen one!
    No idea what the canary is here for either. At first I thought it was a Tweety joke but it doesn’t seem to land anywhere, so I’m not sure what the point was.

  3. On second thought, the bird is named “Papillon” which is the name of that famous Devil’s Island inmate once played by Steve McQueen in that old movie, which explains why it has a ball & chain, yet ends up escaping. I think that’s the whole point, nothing more.
    Btw, I second Jonathan’s suggestion that you review the series like you did with Asterix. I’d be on board for that on my end if you feel up to it. Although I’m not sure if the english translation is as good as our beloved old B&H.

  4. I think the canary is just that – a bird. The sort you already traditionally keep in a cage, even though “they’re made to be free” – except in this case the warden pushes it two steps further with the ball and chain and keeping the cage inside his vault.

      1. That’s a second joke. You get the bird that’s in a cage, with a ball and chain, inside a safe …

        … and on top of it he’s called Papillon.

  5. And the prison warden Abraham Locker is a caricature of famed Romanian born American actor Edward G. Robinson.

  6. Could you imagine if Jean-Yves Ferri wrote Lucky Luke with Jul, then it would be how Rene Goscinny wrote both Asterix and Lucky Luke?