Lucky Luke celebrated in Istanbul

Lucky Luke celebrated in Istanbul

EMRAH GÜLER ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Lucky Luke celebrated in Istanbul

One of the most popular comic books in continental Europe and in Turkey, Lucky Luke is at once an affectionate look at the American Wild West and a parody of its depiction. Lucky Luke is a cowboy, though he’s hardly seen herding any animals.

Comic books were a hovering presence in Turkey’s pop culture from the late 1950s until the 1980s, defining generations, their tastes and the boundaries of their imagination. It’s no surprise that kids who grew up with imaginary comic heroes dominating their childhood and adolescent lives are looking back on them now. While comic book culture went into a period of deep sleep with the increasing number of private TV channels and the emergence of videos and computers in the 1980s, the nostalgia has become unbearable for some kids, who have now grown up, whether they have become academics or artists, opened their own businesses or are working away in a job.

The lazy comic book readers of the past have become adults, reviving the cult of comic books in late 1990s through underground fanzines and secondhand booksellers. Now this has become an economy of its own, with old comic books published in new packages to suit expensive tastes, and collectors demanding insane amounts of money for old issues of comic books and the once-cheap memorabilia of childhood.

Lucky Luke celebrated in Istanbul

In this atmosphere, a comic book hero that was a big name for Turkish readers is getting the star treatment in Istanbul now. Belgian cartoonist Morris and writer René Goscinny’s timeless creation, the lonesome cowboy Lucky Luke (known as “Red Kit” to Turkish readers) is at the center of an extravaganza celebrating the history, art and fandom of the character.

Lucky Luke rides into Istanbul

One of the most popular comic books in continental Europe (and in Turkey), Lucky Luke is at once an affectionate look at the American Wild West and a parody of its depiction in pop culture. Lucky Luke himself is a cowboy, though he’s hardly seen herding any animals: He is better known for his way with his gun, “shooting faster than his shadow,” as he tries to make the Wild West a better place. He is the epitome of the lonesome cowboy, setting off into sunset toward an unknown place at the end of each adventure, riding Jolly Jumper (“Düldül” to Turkish readers), “the smartest horse in the world,” and the only consistent company he ever has.

Lucky Luke is quite the celebrity himself, having become acquainted some of famous historical Western figures in his adventures, such as Calamity Jane, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Jesse James’s gang, and even Mark Twain. He was there when the first transcontinental telegraph was built, and for the land run for the unassigned territories of Oklahoma. He also had the honor of meeting legendary French actress Sarah Bernhardt on one of her tours.

The exhibition “Lucky Luke in Istanbul” (“Red Kit İstanbul’da”) is open for perusal by comic book fans in the heart of Istanbul, at the Yapı Kredi Culture Center. The exhibition, curated by Didier Pasamonik, a Belgian publisher, journalist and curator, as well as an acclaimed expert on comics, welcomes visitors through a revolving bar door reminiscent of the Wild West.

Adapted for Turkish cinema

Lucky Luke celebrated in Istanbul

In fact, the whole exhibition is designed to give the feeling of Lucky Luke’s world in the Wild West. Visitors will have a chance to look behind the scenes of the creative process of comics, which has been standing strong for nearly seven decades now. An illustration of Lucky Luke against the backdrop of the Istanbul skyline was drawn specifically for the exhibition by Achdé, the French artist who took on the Lucky Luke legacy after Morris’s death in 2001. Part of Istanbul’s international comic festival, Istanbulles, the exhibition offers a glimpse into Turkey’s contribution to the universe of Lucky Luke, including posters for the very first film motion pictures adapted from “Lucky Luke” by Turkish filmmakers. In 1967’s “Çifte Tabancalı Damat” (Groom with Two Guns), comedian Öztürk Serengil played modern-day bank clerk Ahmet as he dreamed of being Lucky Luke. Two other films followed in 1971 and 1974, with famous actors of the period, İzzet Günay and Sadri Alışık, playing Lucky Luke. The celebration of Lucky Luke will also include two other events. A creative drama workshop on May 19 will offer children aged nine to 13 a chance to become part of the process of creating comic books, and introduce the hero to new generations.

Lucky Luke, Istanbul, Turkey