By Morris and Lo Hartog Van Banda
“Fingers” is a magician—a really, really good one. When his unfortunate kleptomania sends him to jail, he meets the Daltons and soon escapes with them. After Lucky Luke puts everyone back behind bars, he takes pity on Fingers’ unfortunate tendencies and agrees to try to rehabilitate him. A daunting, frustrating task, for confusing and complicating matters is second nature to a magician. Riding off into the sunset is going to be a difficult trick this time!
Here we go again, another Lucky Luke, although as I said last time, it’s not a series you should take for granted, as it’s something that does simple and funny so very well.
This time it’s a later volume from 1983, with the writing duties being taken on by Lo Hartog Van Banda, who does a fine, fine job of spinning a funny, funny tale of a rogue magician running rings round Luke and everyone else he comes across:
So Luke ends up trailing the gentlemen rogue Fingers, coming up against the Daltons, the Indian tribe, the townsfolk, and all the while trying to work out whether Fingers is actually bad or merely misunderstood, a kindly rogue with a near pathological need to cause mischief as his almost uncontrollable hands do their thing.
Interestingly it actually has something of a sketch show routine feel to it, as Luke wanders through his own book from set-piece to set-piece, often little more than a spectator to the events unfolding. Granted this used to happen when Goscinny was at the helm as well, but never quite so obviously or gratuitously perhaps?
Anyway, even if it’s obvious that the set-up is a touch different, that’s certainly not to say it’s any less enjoyable. Seriously, that gag above had me spluttering coffee.
In fact, the whole thing fair zings along making good sense, packing the gags, right until the very end, where it seems Van Banda, as befits many comedians finishing their act, couldn’t quite deliver the big ending and has to be content with simply shuffling the characters off to their various end places and sticking a quick “The End” panel onto things. Not a great ending, but in some ways, it doesn’t matter, as the fun was t be had in getting to that point, a series of escapades rather than an actual plot as such this time. Not less enjoyable than classic Lucky Luke, just differently enjoyable.
And before finishing, a quick word on Morris, whose art is the often overlooked thing in all this, as his creation often becomes merely a discussion of whether the writer is on form or not. Well Morris’ creation is a great one, and Morris is a great artist. You want iconic, action packed, artistically great? Here….
That’s great, great comics. Stopped me in my tracks reading it. The timing in Morris’ artwork superb (and of course, if Van Banda) scripted or plotted that fair play to him as well), just that simple head turn, the slowing down of time as Morris takes 5 panels to deliver one action, as Fingers keeps talking and Luke does what Luke does best, just being there, dealing with the situation.
I always say it’s a great pleasure having the easy-going familiarity of these Lucky Luke books come round every couple f months, and this is no exception. Classy, classy comics, really – what more could you ask for?