How can I become a compulsive draftsman

Comic

In the latest album of the series "Lucky Luke" (supposedly the ninety-ninth, which means that a big Remmidemmi can be expected for the next one, although the count is only so high because some stories have been published twice in Germany) there is a preliminary remark for the now sixteen years Hervé Darmenton alias Achdé, who is the regular draftsman of the series. In it he pays his respects to the “Asterix” draftsman Albert Uderzo, who died in March: “As far as his talent was concerned, he was a giant.” Achdé speaks from draftsman to draftsman, and so he's right. As for the author Uderzo, he was able to remain silent. In the latest “Lucky Luke” band, too, Achdé is working according to a strange scenario, this time by Jul (Julien Lucien Berjeaut, born 1974), who is making his debut as a “Lucky Luke” author.

And you might think that Achdé feels so much sympathy for Uderzo because he is confronted with the same problem as the “Asterix” draftsman: bad stories that then have to be highlighted. Now it was Uderzo's own fault, because as long as he owned the rights to "Asterix", he reserved the right to write new stories. Achdé, on the other hand, works on behalf of the heirs of “Lucky Luke” creator Morris, who died in 2001, and cannot choose what happens. It is telling that neither series has ever reached the level that they had when René Goscinny was writing the stories.

After all, "Lucky Luke" has since tried out a lot. The youngest volume, however, now makes the same mistake that Uderzo made years ago: The successful comic series is supposed to become political by compulsively integrating topics that are perceived as current in the cosmos of the series. With "Asterix" it was about feminism and manga, with "Lucky Luke" it is now "Black Lives Matter". Because the new album is dedicated to the subject of racism in the United States.

It was actually overdue. Because "Lucky Luke" is set in times when secession, civil war and reconstruction fell - all consequences of slavery and the effort to abolish it. Now Lucky Luke operates normally in the Wild West west of the Mississippi, so not in former slave-owning states. This time, however, Jul lets him ride to Louisiana, where an enthusiastic reader of his adventures left him a cotton plantation.

It's a fun idea because it turns the comics into contemporary reports. In the old lady's mansion, portraits of Lucky Luke hang on the walls, which correspond to the various stages of his design by Morris since 1947 - an ancestral gallery with which Achdé celebrates his own ancestors. The old lady's admiration for Lucky Luke, on the other hand, is a misunderstanding, because her moral conviction does not correspond to that of the honest cowboy, who has no racial prejudice whatsoever. On the other hand, she continued to exploit the four hundred workers on the plantation even after slavery was over.

You can see in it a winking swipe at the reading audience of "Lucky Luke", who also enjoy themselves in pleasant nostalgia, but do not draw any humanistic consequences from their reading. So now it's getting a basic moral album. And a new figure that has been brilliantly selected: Bass Reeves, a real black assistant marshal, whom Jul and Achdé make an equal partner of Lucky Luke: in terms of martial competence, but also as a longtime friend of the lonely cowboy, but with whom one can asks where he's been in nearly a hundred adventures so far. The effort to inflate a new figure to a very large figure, unfortunately, has something very strenuous.

Like the German title: "Torches in the Cotton Field", an allusion to the famous southern epic "Torches in the Storm". Well, if it's for reader loyalty. It is nicer that a strong female figure among the black plantation dwellers bears the first name of Angela Davis. And the most beautiful are the pictures on the album. Since the German publisher does not offer a proper reading sample online, the French one by Dargaud should be mentioned here: https://www.dargaud.com/bd-en-ligne/les-aventures-de-lucky-luke-dapres-morris-tome -9 / 9810 / eb94b945002bca10105121e388692757. But it is precisely the - pardon - slavish fidelity of Achdé to the line of Morris that makes the deficits of Jul's story all the more drastic, because you not only want beauty, but also intelligence, as it once existed in the series. Here many storylines complement each other up to a completely superfluous fling to the Daltons not to the big picture, but to a narrative farce. Especially since a lot has been badly stolen, for example the grotesque appearance of the Ku Klux Klan in the grandiose feature film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" By the Coen brothers. The satirical intention fails in the comic because of the good will to be good. The joke is blown with goodwill.

Telling a good story is not made easier by writing history in the service of the belt. Or to put it more simply: Well meant unfortunately still means not well done, and so the general praise in the forest of leaves and websites for “torches in the cotton field” is nothing more than a general misunderstanding that measures the quality of art by its political correctness. Strange, but that's how it is written.

Tags: Achdé, Albert Uderzo, Angela Davis, Asterix, Bass Reeves, Coen brothers, comic, Dargaud, torches in the cotton field, Jul, Louisiana, Lucky Luke, Morris, René Goscinny, southern states
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Gone with the will

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“Lucky Luke” also wants to finally be completely modern: With “Torches in the Cotton Field”, the youngest volume in the long-term comic series is dedicated to the topic of anti-racism. But storytelling is neglected because of the will to be up-to-date.

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