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Lucky Luke switches rides

What would Lucky Luke be without his horse Jolly Jumper? Berlin-based comics artist Mawil has penned an adventure that puts the friendship between horse and cowboy to a tough test.

By Holger Moos

Mawil: Lucky Luke sattelt um © Lucky Comics, 2019. All Rights Reserved – by Mawil Titled Lucky Luke sattelt um [Lucky Luke switches rides], the book pays homage to the comic-book cowboy, originally created by Franco-Belgian comics artist Maurice de Bevere, aka Morris. The cowboy who shoots faster than his shadow was one of Markus Witzel’s childhood heroes when he was still a schoolboy in East Berlin. Now a successful comics artist known as Mawil, Witzel was just ten years old when he sketched his first Lucky Luke drawings.

Less than 30 years later, Mawil puts the cowboy – who had to quit smoking in 1983 and now likes to casually chew on a straw – into a completely different saddle: Lucky Luke is learning to ride a bike, and surprisingly quickly at that.

Lucky Luke in the Bicycle “War”

The story is based on historical events: Albert Overman was a US bicycle pioneer who introduced the country to the modern bicycle with hollow pneumatic tires, while his competitor Albert Augustus Pope, who also appears in the book, owned a factory that produced penny-farthings.
Lucky Luke soon ends up right in the middle of this bicycle “war”: He meets Albert Overman, whose last chance to prove that his construction is superior is a bicycle race in San Francisco. To make matters worse, two crooks called Smith and Wesson are after him. So it falls to Lucky Luke to transport Overman’s precious cargo to San Francisco – powered, for the most part, by his calves, which are barely up to the task.

Is this the end of Lucky Luke’s relationship with Jolly Jumper?

Jolly Jumper, who always turned up in the right place at the right time whenever Lucky Luke hastily had to leave a saloon through the window, initially receives no attention in Mawil’s book and harbours resentment towards his master. Horses’ souls can be wounded, too, in particular if the horse in question feels like its services are no longer required.
What follows is an abstruse chase through the USA, with lots of wit and plenty of references. Mawil interprets the original relatively freely – for example, while the main character is clearly recognisable, his nose is larger and rounder. In the Tagesspiegel newspaper, Bela Sobottke calls this approach “pure Mawil” and points out that while he is the first German artist to be permitted to present his take on the comic-book icon, it is also “an enjoyable honour for Lucky Luke to receive a fresh interpretation by Mawil at the age of over 70.”

Mawil: Lucky Luke sattelt um © Lucky Comics, 2019. All Rights Reserved – by Mawil

Mawil: Lucky Luke sattelt um. Hommage 3
Berlin: Egmont Ehapa Media GmbH, 2019. 64 S.
ISBN (Hardcover in der Egmont Comic Collection / Softcover bei Egmont Ehapa Media): 978-3-7704-4060-3