Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Quebec According to Lucky Luke

The book La belle province is drawn by Hervé Darmenton, aka Achdé, and French imitator Laurent Gerra. It ludicrously talks about Lucky Luke's trip to Contrecoeur, a village of Quebec inhabited by "623 souls". First of all, everything starts with a rodeo contest in the USA.


While being on assignment to track down a criminal named Brad Carpett, Lucky Luke meets named Mario Bombardier who will end up being the winner of the rodeo contest. However, this is the time when Carpett takes the time to elude Lucky Luke and also the time when Jolly Jumper, our hero's horse, falls in love with Bombardier's female horse called Province.

In order to get over Jolly Jumper's sadness, Lucky Luke decides to pay a visit to Mario Bombardier in Quebec. While facing a land where the local customs are different, Lucky Luke has to fight against an American business man who wants to buy the whole village. Above all, Lucky Luke will find out that things are far more complicated than they are in Contrecoeur.

***

Since Morris, the creator of Lucky Luke, died on July 16, 2001, someone really had to resurrect the most famous fictitious cow-boy, but probably not at any price.

Before Lucky Luke begins his visit in Quebec, we readers get to have a quick presentation of what Quebec is almost the same way we were introduced to Astérix's village. Even though Laurent Gerra, the scriptwriter, is funny, he certainly doesn't have Morris's or René Gosciny's (who became the series' script writer after the 10th issue) writing talent. Unfortunately, the presentation of Quebec's history from the time of the French regime to the Union Act (1840) is brimming with pathetic Anglophobic prejudices.

When Gerra describes the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837-1838, he sees it as an ethnic clash between English and French Canadians. What a joke! Had he made more research, he'd have found that some Anglos supported the Patriots. Indeed, the most famous Anglo Patriots are Wolfred and Robert Nelson, Marcus Child, Ephraim Knight, John Neilson, W.H. Scott and E.B. O'Callaghan. Therefore, the Rebellion was fundamentally against the British crown and not the Canadian Anglos, mind you!

Moreover, Gerra depicts all Canadian Anglos as people who hate French Canadians. That probably explains why he forgot to mention the fact that Louis-Hyppolite Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin led a coalition government in the 1840s, despite the language barriers. Still, talking about the historical inaccuracies will just take the whole day to show that this book is to be taken with a grain of salt.

Hopefully, La belle province manages really well to imitate the series Astérix in terms of humour. Throughout your reading, you'll find many hilarious references to Quebecker and French pop-culture through, for instance, a singer named Miss Céline, a coffin maker called Mr. Rozon (Juste pour mourir) or even Gilles Vigneault! Needless to remind you that the story takes place in the 19th century.

If we don't take in consideration all the incoherences of the storyline (ex: American criminals knowing how to imitate the Quebecker accent?!?!?), La belle province will certainly not honour the name of Morris and René Gosciny. While being a pure product of entertainment, this book makes us anticipate the next issue of Lucky Luke.

Rating: 2/5

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