Review by Karl Verhoven
The Tenderfoot counts second only to Jesse James when it comes to totting up English language translations of Lucky Luke. The first was published in 1974 by Brockhampton Press, and it saw print again in 1976 and 1998 before the current Cinebook edition. It was created during the peak run of René Goscinny and Morris’ collaboration from the mid-1960s, but despite this pedigree it ranks among the weaker Goscinny Lucky Luke scripts. It’s as if there were a few English jokes that didn’t quite fit Asterix in Britain and Goscinny dumped them here. Perhaps that’s also why one of the lead characters, English gentleman Waldo Badmington, is a caricature of Asterix artist Albert Uderzo.
Badmington is a fine creation, the tenderfoot of the title, come to the USA to inherit his dead Great Uncle’s ranch, arriving resplendent in a ridiculous yellow suit with green trimmings. Seemingly having the term ‘victim’ stamped on his forehead, Badmington’s upper class upbringing has ingrained more than enough skills to deal with the local thugs.
As good as this is, it’s pretty well the only joke other than the gradual thawing of the relationship between Badmington’s butler and the Sioux warrior guarding the property. “Which club are you a member of?” enquires the butler. A guard is required as ranch owner Jack Ready, occupying the less fertile land across the river, has set his mind on acquiring that property by fair means or foul. Actually, as this is Lucky Luke, fair means don’t enter into it.
Goscinny is definitely coasting, and so, to a lesser degree is Morris. There are none of his half-page panels crowded with activity, and his local bar is rather spartanly populated. Putting that aside, though, it’s the usual superb cartooning, with Jack Ready beautifully designed with a pinched face and moustache. At times he resembles David Niven, yet no list of caricatures in the series mention him.
Both creators are polished enough that The Tenderfoot is never bad, but there are plenty of more desirable examples of their collaborations.