Learning German with Lucky Luke

Lucky Luke, der Mann, der schneller zieht als sein Schatten

I don’t just sit around and watch television all day. Sometimes I read books. Comic books, that is–and my favorite is Lucky Luke, the man who shoots faster than his shadow.

Television is a great way to learn a foreign language, but it refuses to slow down long enough for me to look up all the words. So I spend time reading German too, and comic books are an excellent choice. All the sentences are spoken dialogue, so I won’t end up “sounding like a book.” I get lots of visual clues to help me understand what’s going on, and besides, I get to laugh.

Lucky Luke is the creation of the great Belgian cartoonist, Morris, and many of the issues were cowritten by the equally great Goscinny, who gave us the comic series, Astérix. This means it was originally written in French. But it’s wildly popular in Germany, so I can be sure to find one of the more than 75 issues in any newsstand or grocery store.

Page from Lucky Luke, Band 75, Der Kunstmaler

Maybe I like Lucky Luke so much because he’s an American like me. He wanders the Wild West on his brilliant and opinionated horse, Jolly Jumper, fighting for justice and locking up bad guys. He meets Calamity Jane, Sarah Bernhardt, and a young Horace Greeley. He helps out a traveling circus, rides for the Pony Express, and meets a cold-hearted bounty hunter who looks a whole lot like Lee Van Cleef. And of course, he tangles frequently with a band of desperate outlaws: the Dalton brothers, whose evil increases as their legs get shorter. Ma Dalton is pretty fierce too.

The Dalton Gang in Lucky Luke

The other day, I had trouble locating Lucky Luke in the Globus supermarket. He wasn’t with the other comic books. That’s because Morris and Goscinny had a rotating rack all to themselves. Dozens of Lucky Lukes! I should have known.

Photos taken in September, 2011, by Clare B. Dunkle. Blog text copyright 2011 by Clare B. Dunkle. Images copyright Lucky Luke Comics, 2001. German translation copyright EGMONT EHAPA VERLAG GmbH, 2001.

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