As I was shuffling through the discount boxes at Comic Store West, I came across a curious hardcover book.
It was weird. It was a cartoony-style adventure set during the American Civil War. Even stranger, it was created by two Europeans.
The art style reminded me a lot of Peyo of Smurfs fame, and inside, there was plenty of action.
The hardcover was Volume One of “The Blue Tunics” a new (in 2004) translation of “Les Tuniques Bleues,” a 50-volume set.
At first read, the story is a bit confusing. The series features two Union soldiers, Sgt. Chesterfield and Blutch, as they slog through the Civil War, only to get re-assigned as war photographers with Matthew Brady. From there, they save President Lincoln and get captured by the Confederates.
An OK story I suppose, but it wasn’t all that funny.
And then I found the entry on the comic in wikipedia.
That helped explain the intricacies of the series. In this “volume 1,” you’re never introduced to the Chesterfield or Blutch.
You never get an idea of their character until well in the story.
Wikipedia solved all that, namely that this “volume 1” was actually
“volume 11” in the series.
whoever picked this story for the first English translation (which is
filled with misspellings and clunky grammar) neglected to consider that
English-reading audiences had never even heard of these guys.
Heck, I’ve read comics since 1983, and never heard of them. They don’t even show up in any of my “history of cartooning” books.
So, like I said, wikipedia really cleared things up for me on the finer details of the series.
Despite my confusion, I have to say this is an awesome book.
45 pages of story, it’s packed with action. Gun fights, cavalry charges
and cannon blasts abound. There’s several cool scenes where
Chesterfield, the career soldier of the duo, has a saber in one hand
and a six-shooter in the other as he blasts and hacks his way through
Additionally, as noted in the wikipedia entry,
the attention to historical detail is amazing. One panel shows a horse
dashing off with a wheeled cannon in tow — and you see every pin,
latch and bolt in the cannon and its wood frame.
While it’s likely
that there won’t be any further English volumes of the series, a
deserved fate considering how bad the translation is, the comic-art
lover in me wants to see a lot more of The Blue Tunics.