Review by Frank Plowright
Although the 43rd Lucky Luke book published by Cinebook, The Bluefeet are Coming is actually the tenth volume chronologically, and the final volume solely created by Morris.
It dates from 1956, and was published in book form in 1958, by which time Morris’ first collaboration with René Goscinny, Rails on the Prairie, was already in print. The future was clear. Plotting came far more easily to Goscinny, and only having to draw the books significantly increased Morris’ production rate. Whereas he’d previously produced ten books in ten years, the following ten years would see over double that number.
This is the first Lucky Luke story produced when Morris returned to Europe after a lengthy stay in the USA and Mexico, and his familiarity with the landscapes would serve him well for the remainder of his career. He lovingly details the often sparse and unwelcoming scenery, and a comic set piece here involves a herd of buffalo.
Having said all that, Morris’ need for a collaborator is apparent. While an improvement on some of his earlier solo volumes, this is very unsophisticated when placed alongside even the earliest stories produced with Goscinny. Morris jumps from gag to gag without ever giving the impression that he has anything beyond the next gag plotted. Some of these gags are good (the persistent bad luck experienced by Rattlesnake’s Sheriff), but many more are obvious.
The plot concerns a shiftless Mexican ne’er do well who cheats at cards and has no compunctions about manipulating the local native American tribe into attacking the town of Rattlesnake Valley. Given present-day sensibilities there are some who may be offended by the stereotyped portrayal of these characters. Not to excuse the depiction, but it was standard for the times, and the reason it now stands out is because Lucky Luke has stood the test of time, and this remains in print sixty years after it was created to fill pages in a French children’s comic.
Chronologically the next volume is Lucky Luke versus Joss Jamon, and it’s a big step up.