Review by Frank Plowright
Calamity Jane is a rare Lucky Luke volume to have experienced English language publication prior to Cinebook, from the oddly named Glo’Worm imprint. It’s peak period René Goscinny and artist Morris, serialised in 1966 and first seen in French album form the following year. Although the 8th volume published by Cinebook, it’s actually the 30th in the series.
For all that Lucky Luke was a humour comic with the cartooning to match, there were efforts made to ensure historical accuracy, and there’s no Doris Day about the Calamity Jane depicted here. In keeping with her actual Deadwood persona she’s dissolute, rough and ready, yet an accomplished shot and frontier scout more than capable of handling herself in a fist fight. Goscinny also highlights her reputation as someone prepared to exaggerate her own legend, referring to herself as a liar when she saves Luke from some Apache. Her view is that he brought the situation upon himself by bathing, an occupation she has no truck with.
There is a plot about gun-running occupying the background, while much of the humour derives from Calamity Jane’s efforts to present a refined persona on acquiring a saloon. There are assorted, um, calamities, occurring from attempts to drive her out, and eventually the social pillars of the Women’s Auxiliary Guild become involved. When her initial efforts at self-improvement fail, an etiquette coach arrives, in the form of a David Niven caricature, with villain of the piece August Oyster being based on Sean Connery.
By this time Goscinny and Morris had settled into a smooth groove and pretty well any 1960s or 1970s volume is top class material. The cartooning is brilliant, the jokes come thick and fast, and the cast appeal.