Reviews: Lucky Luke – back in those early early days….
“In this early adventure of the famous cowboy, Lucky Luke is dealing with one of the plagues of the Old West: quacks. “Doctor” Doxey is a con man, a charlatan who brews up useless elixirs and sells them as miracle cures for every ailment known to man. But he doesn’t stop at that and occasionally causes illnesses himself, the better to cure them—a behaviour that does not sit well with Luke…“
Again, we get our regularly bi-monthly trip way out west with “the man who shoots faster than his own shadow“. But this time there’s something quite important missing – Goscinny. And his absence makes all the difference.
This 1955 tale of Lucky Luke taking on the medical profession of the day is one of the earlier volumes, just the seventh installment from the time when Morris took care of both art and writing. And because of the rather haphazard nature of the Cinebook reprints, we’ve already experienced a lot of the later volumes, when Goscinny joined Morris and took over the writing. Even in their very earliest collaboration – Rails On The Prairie – there just seemed to be that little more to it, a little more cohesion, a few more funny gags.
It may of course simply be me just not getting this one, it may be that it’s Morris having a bad day at the office, but most likely it’s simply that we’re in the period before the golden era of Lucky Luke, and it’s all just a little too rough, too raw, just before the magic takes hold, with Morris still developing both his own style and that of the strip.
Not that it’s completely without merit or enjoyment, far from it. What it gives a reader is a nice little series of fun tales that hit all the points you expect from the familiar snake-oil salesman story; Luke doing everything he can to shut the man down, and Doc Doxey twisting and turning in his attempts to stay one step ahead of both Luke and the last load of townsfolk who’ve got a bone to pick with him over the ‘miracle elixir’ he cooked up from whatever was lying around.
And just like the story, there are moments in the art where something hits, and the line and especially the sheer motion I enjoy in Morris’ art comes through. Here for example… panel 4…
Yep. There’s no doubt that Lucky Luke is a classic, and there are signs here, but even classics have to start somewhere, even great artists have to get the style right, everything comes good in the end, practice like this made perfect in the end.