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Creator of comic strip hero Lucky Luke celebrated in major Brussels retrospective
Brave and lonesome cowboy Lucky Luke is not only the fastest shooter in the Wild West, he's a hero of Belgian comic strip.
The bestselling cartoon series was created in 1946 by artist and illustrator Maurice de Bevere (alias Morris).
To mark the 100th anniversary of his birth, the Huberty & Breyne art gallery presents 100 original signed plates, album covers and drawings that trace the evolution of the popular series.
Morris: 100 Years, 100 Works is a non-commercial exhibition staged by the gallery, which specialises in comic book art. The Place Châtelain address – along with two galleries in Paris – highlight the connections between narrative cartoons and contemporary art.
Gallery director Alain Huberty told The Bulletin: “This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. All the 100 pieces came from the family because there is nothing on the market, everything is within the family.”
The first major show of Morris’ work in Belgium is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue. “The family allowed us to publish two books which contain pieces published for the first time,” explains Huberty.
Morris’ much-loved character Lucky Luke, "the man who shoots faster than his shadow", was the hero of the humourous series that was both a tribute and gentle parody of the American Western.
Accompanied by his clever horse Jolly Jumper and less-intelligent dog Ran-Tan-Plan, the street-smart cowboy is embroiled in various adventures that feature historical characters such as Judge Roy Bean, Billy the Kid, the Dalton Brothers and Calamity Jane.
Morris singlehandedly illustrated and wrote the series until 1955 when he started collaborating with French writer René Goscinny. After the latter’s death in 1977, he turned to several other writers until his own demise in 2001.
The series became one of best-selling in Europe and comprises 80 books to date. In fact, Morris (pictured above) devoted his entire career almost exclusively to Lucky Luke.
Travels around the US between 1948 and 1955 considerably influenced Morris. If Belgian comic strip pioneer Jijé (Joseph Gillain) was his master, American cartoonists also inspired his audacious compositions and palette of primary colours.
Film similarly swayed his style. Highly-cinematic strip panels give the impression of a camera moving around, showing different views of the same scene.
“He lived in the states for seven years, and when you take a look at the two first Lucky Lukes you see the influence of Walt Disney. Like Mickey Mouse, Luke has four fingers on each hand in those first two books,” explains Huberty.
“Afterwards, the cartoonist created caricatures of Jack Palance and other movie actors for one time characters in the books,” he adds.
The exhibition space includes a reading area where visitors can browse the books in any of four languages. Four short films are also continually screened. Signings, workshops and guided tours are organised for the durations of the show.
Morris: 100 Years, 100 Works
1 December to 27 January (free entrance)
Place du Châtelain 33
Photos: (main image) ©Huberty & Breyne Gallery; Lucky Luke album covers and drawings ©Morris Lucky comics 2023