ali abaday
Sep 01 2019

Getting bored waiting for Lucky Luke

If you grew up in Turkey before the 1990s, when someone says “comic book,” the first superheroes that come to mind are Lucky Luke (Red Kit), Phantom (Kızılmaske), Captain Miki (Tommiks), and Il Grande Blek (Teksas). Although people had heard of Superman and Batman, American comic books were relatively difficult to find then.

Lucky Luke, created by Belgian illustrator Morris, wouldn’t have been nearly so popular if it hadn’t appeared in weekend children’s programming for an entire generation. This was how we followed Lucky Luke, his clever horse Jolly Jumper (Düldül), and his idiot dog Rantanplan (Rin Tin Tin) on their adventures and endless chases with the Dalton Brothers.

His yellow shirt, black vest, white cowboy hat, jeans, and a cigarette about to fall from his mouth are his usual accessories, but Morris’ character had some more subtle touches as well. In one book, for example, Billy the Kid is portrayed as a little kid, and Lucky Luke punishes him like a child.

The Dalton Brothers are always devising some insidious plot, but their plans are always foiled. Among the best parts of the comic are the conversations between Joe, the shortest and smartest of the brothers, and Avarel, the tallest and dumbest.

Lucky Luke, the cowboy who can pull a gun faster than his shadow and who’s wrong about everything, always visits a place called Daisy Town (Papatya Kasabası). It’s a lawless town, but Lucky Luke always sorts things out when he comes. Although the town has never had a proper sheriff, many of his adventures happen with him acting as sheriff.

Well-known historical figures like Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane, Victor Hugo, Sarah Bernhardt, and Buffalo Bill are frequent guests in his adventures. However, these characters are parodies. Sarah Bernhardt appears as an artist known for her “golden voice,” and the comic book issue about her US tour is perhaps the most memorable of the stories with famous people from history. Sometimes they travel around America following outlaws and sometimes they protect the mail car on a train, but no matter what happens, they always return to Daisy Town.

Whatever hopeless state Daisy Town might be in, however much it appears to be full of gun-slinging outlaws, when Lucky Luke turns up, he sets everything right. This was one of the main reasons kids read the comics—he never gives up hope for the place he lives in.

Lucky Luke is somewhat of a moral compass. He never kills anyone. He catches the bad guys, but if possible, he never spills a drop of blood. There are no exceptions. In one story, a hired gun named Phil Defer (called Spider Feet because his legs are so long) is trying to kill Lucky Luke. Spider Feet’s arm is wounded in the fight, and when the doctors are patching him up before sending him to prison, they tell him he will never use be able to use a gun again. In this way, Lucky Luke captures the most dangerous outlaw without killing him.

I read Lucky Luke for years, and memories of Daisy Town are once again niggling at me. I keep thinking about the interesting resemblances between this town and Turkey. Maybe it’s just me, but Daisy Town and Turkey are a lot alike.

There are two main reasons Daisy Town is like Turkey—they have never seen democracy and there have never been any democratic institutions. Admittedly, Daisy Town is just an imaginary town in a comic book, but every time there’s trouble, just one man comes to save them. When we look at politics in Turkey, people are always looking for a leader to rescue them.

Even today in a lot of elections, there’s still a part of the population that believes the candidates put forth by the opposition parties will return Turkey to the old days and be heroes like Lucky Luke. However, no one thinks about what will happen when that hero arrives or the extent to which power can corrupt a person…

After Lucky Luke sets everything right in the town and the Dalton Brothers or whatever other villains are captured, the people are still waiting for their one saviour.

In Turkey, the democratically elected mayors of three districts have just been replaced by trustees appointed by the Ministry of the Interior. Emine Bulut was stabbed in front of her daughter by her ex-husband she’d divorced four years previously. There are babies growing up in prison with their mothers and others in prison who can’t get treatment for life-threatening illnesses. I see people talking about these things who seem to be waiting for a saviour like Lucky Luke.

People living in this country don’t think problems can be fixed by working together. Everyone is ready to do whatever it takes, but they continue to look for a leader who will bring them together. Without that leader in place to spark change and prepare for the struggle, it seems no one will take any serious action.

Until recently, I believed that Turkey would become a democratic country in the future, one that had a universal respect for the rule of law. That is, until I started reading old issues of Lucky Luke to write this article. I realized Turkey has never truly been democratic or respectful of the rule of law. There have always been unsolved murders, disappearances, murdered children, and assaults on women.

If a hero like Lucky Luke appeared, everyone knows he’d make the entire country a peaceful place even though it wouldn’t last long because one day, whether heroes are real or fantasy, they are going to leave the land they saved. Their main success is leaving people feeling as though they won’t need another hero in the future.

I do not know if someday there will be a real leader like Lucky Luke who will come and save the country, but if it happens, it would be nice if they laid the foundations for the country not to become like Daisy Town again when they left. Otherwise, a lot of people would just as soon move to another town rather than forever watching the arrival of Lucky Luke.