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Sun, 15 Feb 2015
Joe, William, Jack, and Averell Dalton
What do the names Joe, William, Jack, and Averell have in common? You won't be able to answer this question unless you're a comic book junkie and have a knack for reading old ones. These names are actually the names of the Daltons, four fictional characters representing outlaws in a comic book series called the Lucky Luke. The next question is, what do these comic-book Daltons have in common with the Dalton brothers who existed in real life?
The Lucky Luke Series
The Lucky Luke series, created by graphic artists Morris and Rene Goscinny, was a Franco-Belgian Western comic book series. The series began in 1946 as a somewhat serious take on the wild western life, with a lot of violence before it became a much lighter parody of the western genre in the years 1955 to 1977. The series revolved around the hero, Lucky Luke, traveling across the West with a talking horse, and is often the government's last resort when it comes to sticky situations.
One of the Lucky Luke series' most notable traits is that it has been known for featuring historical figures in its plot, which was very much admitted by the creator himself. Morris said: "The history of the conquest of the West is such a highly coloured and incredible period"... Reality is stranger than fiction! So why try and imagine characters or events when we can draw them from history? Apparently, this trick did the series well.
The Original Dalton Brothers
Among the historical figures featured in the comic books was the Dalton Gang, a group of outlaws in America's Old West in the 1890s. They were more commonly known as the Dalton Brothers since three of the members were actually siblings. These siblings were brothers Grat, Bob, and Emmet Dalton. They were later joined by Bill Dalton.
They were at first men of the law but their descent to being outlaws started when the eldest of the family, Frank, who was a US Deputy Marshal, was killed in an encounter. The reason they turned to crime was that they were not paid for being lawmen. The gang was known for train and bank robberies.
Bob Dalton Had Ambitions To Beat Anything Jesse James Did
This group of bandits first appeared in the comic book series in the Lucky Luke adventure "Horse-la-loi" written by Morris in 1951. Their appearances were identical in everything except for varying heights. Bob was portrayed as the shortest and most dangerous, with Emmet being the tallest. This was accurate in more ways than one, since it was Bob in real life who had ambitions to beat anything Jesse James, another outlaw, ever did. At the end of the story in the comic book, the Daltons were killed in a raid in the town of Coffeyville, Kansas - where real-life Bob and Grat were actually killed while trying to rob the First National Bank.
Morris regretted killing the Dalton Brother adaptations and decided to bring them back - only this time, he made them more fictional than ever.
Emmet Dalton Became A Real Estate Agent
The moment the fictional Dalton Cousins made it to Lucky Luke series was timelier than ever since this was when the humor of the comic books changed from semi-serious and violent to slapstick. The brothers were Joe, William, Jack, and Averell who were billed as the original Daltons' cousins. Although a lot of their traits were made up by the creator and had nothing to do with the real-life Daltons, this set of fictional Dalton brothers are identical to the original ones in appearance - and again, Morris made each of the characters taller than the other in size.
They also displayed the same lack of intelligence as the one portraying the real-life Daltons. Joe was portrayed as the shortest, oldest, angriest yet least stupid of the siblings and the leader and mastermind. William and Jack Dalton didn't have much characterization and were usually the buffer whenever Joe would get into a fight with the youngest, Averell. Averell, the youngest and the tallest of the cousins, was obsessed with food. He is not particularly interested in criminal activities and simply follows his brothers. And true enough, Emmet, the youngest of the Dalton brothers, didn't die as an outlaw and became a real estate agent after being released from prison.
According to some theories, although the Dalton cousins were loosely based on the real-life Dalton Gang, they were actually intended to replace the original Dalton brothers who were meant to portray the real-life outlaws. It was the only way for the comic book creator to bring them back from the dead.