A Graphic Novel by Ralf König
Going into this book, I was unfamiliar with Lucky Luke, although I could tell it was a long running series from the past. This was an interesting comic, although not likely the best one for a newcomer to read just starting out with the story. I feel like had I read some of the older stuff, I could possibly get some of the jokes that the author is making, poking fun at the character. That is because, while not a parody, this Lucky Luke by Ralf König is apparently a way to tackle the topic of homosexuality in the vein of a cowboy story. It’s full of bigoted cowboys being idiots and Lucky Luke showing them that a real cowboy doesn’t waste tons of time with that stuff.
“Even a hero from the Far West needs a vacation from time to time, and looking after a few Swiss cows seems like the perfect opportunity for Lucky Luke. These milk cows happen to produce the precious substance necessary for the production of authentic Swiss chocolate! The West has just discovered cocoa, and chocolate should soon be a commodity in all mouths. And yet… between vicious autograph hounds, the chief of the Chicoree tribe, and two cowboys whose frustrated love leads to even more frustrating brawling, will Lucky Luke end up yearning for a reunion with the Daltons?”
At first I was worried this was going to be a bunch of gay jokes punching down to a marginalized people, but it’s luckily more camp than actual mean spirited content. The people making the jokes are obviously the villains in the story, and in the end love is the real hero. While you have guys referring to one of the cowboys as “a fruit” and lamenting “how many fruits there are nowadays”, you can see that the author is using this as satire to talk about how hopelessly regressive people are even in today’s society.
One can’t help but make connections to the Hollywood film Brokeback Mountain with this story, which I assume was intentional. It’s also somewhat of a discussion on belonging in what can be seen as a “macho profession” while being gay, as one of the main characters talks about how much he idolized Lucky Luke, and he led him to becoming the man he is. Having his hero step in and basically tell him that he is a good person, and help him find love was a cool touch. I could be reading into a silly book too much, but I felt it was interesting way to use the character.
Overall, I wasn’t expecting this book at all, and even though I’m not probably the target audience for this book it seems like a VERY interesting take on the character. Some people might be squeamish on the content, which is unfortunate considering the idea behind the book, so make sure you read up on what you are getting before you get mad. The book also has some less than stellar representations of Native Americans, but I can chalk that up to trying to capture the appearance of being a much older comic and using tropes from Western comics of upwards of 70 years ago. Overall enjoyable read despite my initial concern. Europe Comics picked a very interesting title in the series to release.
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