Guess what, we have a new player in the Graphic Novel/Comics Biz in India. Tara Press, a trade imprint of
India Research Press have ventured on bringing Franco-Belgian comics treasure to Indian Comic Fans. And what a better way to start the proceedings, by introducing our favourite Lucky Luke in English to India.
Their copyright content states they now have the exclusive English language rights for Indian sub-continent. Well, there are 7 titles to start of with in this series, but as a first instalment only 5 of them are released. Each one of them priced at INR 195/- each, mirroring the Euro Books pricing strategy.
Lucky Luke is a masterpiece Cowboy story franchise created by Maurice De Bevere (1923-2001), under the pen-name Morris, in 1946 for then comics magazine Spirou, from the legendary publishers, Dupius. Morris served as creator-artist throughout the initial run of Lucky Luke, where he is pictured as a solitary cowboy travelling across Wild West, and helping the needy and poor. He is assisted in his adventures by his faithful companion, Jolly Jumper, the Horse. The first adventure, Arizona 1880 was released on Dec 7, 1946.
Morris was considered as a central artist of Spirou magazine, and often regarded among the elite club known as, Gang of 4, which comprises of other heavyweights like Jije, Franquin (Spirou and Fantasio fame), and Will.
The Lucky Luke series, was yet to touch the mainstream, when Morris decided to travel to America, in order to know more about the Wild West, and their arts. He eventually met, Rene Goscinny (1926-1997), who was an unknown French comic writer and artist that time. But he eventually, went on to form a formidable partnership with Morris, in the process creating the golden period of Lucky Luke adventures. Together they were known as Morris & Goscinny, in the 31 adventures they worked in tandem.
The dynamic duo’s run with Lucky Luke came to an end in the late sixties, when Morris left Spirou, and joined Goscinny in his new magazine, Pilote. But, Goscinny went on to write all the Lucky Luke stories from 1955 to his eventual death in 1977, moving him into stardom, along with his other legendary work on Asterix.
The success of Lucky Luke stories owes much to its plot revolving around the historical events and people, much like the successful Asterix & Obelix franchise. And we get to see the same with Tara Press's imprints.
Here is a Preview of what's in store for you in these titles:
Dashing White Cowboy takes us to a trail of dacoit mystery linked up to a Theatre crew, and the highlight of the story turns up when Lucky Luke makes his nervous stage debut, as the Dashing White Cowboy himself.
Tenderfoot, takes a hit of the foreigners traverse in the wild-west on a lighter note coupled with humour all along. The highlight of the story is when the Butler trying in vain to train the Red Indian to his ways, which ultimately turns the other way around.
Ma Dalton features the the foursome Dalton Brothers joining forces with Ma Dalton. The climax involving a gun fight duel between Ma Dalton and Lucky Luke (with him admitting that he was afraid for the first time in a One-on-One fight) was the highlight.
Lucky Luke deals with mischievous Jesse James in his solo title.
While, Western Circus brings us fond memories of our childhood days of watching the now rare Circus events. It takes us through the struggles and troubled times faced by Circus companies, and the highlight is the induction of Red Indians in the bigger troupe at the end.
This Lucky Luke series is neatly bound, translation and print quality are good. So, Euro Books and Tara Press seem to have entered into an encouraging battle (for comic fans) in introducing the Franco-Belgian Comics Treasure to Indian Comic Fans.
On further news regarding Tara Press, they have also acquired the rights to Iznogoud series, which is another masterpiece of René Goscinny. So the coming months promises to be great for all Franco-Belgian Comics Fans.
There might be a curiosity among masses, to know how many more Lucky Luke Titles might be in production. I received a link from Comic Collectors Forum in Orkut, which lists out the number of English editions Lucky Luke stories released so far. By that records, 5 are only few of the 16 English titles available so far.
UPDATE (11/08): But as it is evident Tara Press, hasn’t released any further titles after this 5 set pack, It looks highly unlikely that they will ever be back in the graphic novels/comics market again. Surprise, because I couldn’t notice any of these Tara Press titles on the newsstands or bookstores, citing the reason, that they were all would have been sold-out, thus giving enough interest to publish more. Seems, they were never in the business for a long run from the start.
Recently, Euro Books have made an announcement on their website stating that they are coming up with 12 titles of Iznogoud and 24 titles of Lucky Luke. So, I guess Tara Press, may not be able to utilize their previous copyrights, as the Publishing rights are mostly based on the First-Print formulae. Till they materialize, we have CineBook’s
Lucky Luke set, to keep us enthralled. Good days are ahead us, and no wonder I am eagerly looking forward to them.
Lucky Luke might be new for Indian Comic fans, but not certainly for Tamil Comics fans, as the legendary Prakash Publishers, have published 4 out of 5 of these titles (except Tenderfoot) already in their line-up.
As promised earlier, here are the covers, from my humble collection, of those 4 wonderful titles, in the order they were published.
Obviously, the first among the list is the First-ever issue of erstwhile
Junior Lion, which featured a full-color Lucky Luke adventure for the very first time. No need to mention that it is now considered as a “Holy Grail”, among Tamil Comics Collectors.
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