FFB: Blueberry I – Chihuahua Pearl

Blueberry I – Chihuahua Pearl by Charlier & Moebius, 1989 Epic Comics oversized trade paper

the 52nd in my series of forgotten books

In the first volume of a series, set in America of the late 1800s by a French artist/writer team, U.S. cavalry officer Lieutenant Mike Blueberry stumbles upon the secret of a lost fortune in Confederate gold and a conspiracy to finance a new Civil War. Drummed out of the Army in order to work as a spy, Blueberry enters Mexico, hoping to locate a former Confederate officer who supposedly knows the location of the stash.

The core of Charlier’s story of espionage in the Old West, an unusual treatment for a western when this first appeared in a French magazine in 1970, will seem familiar to contemporary readers. But his ability to complicate the plot, unexpectedly adding new conspirators, infuses the narrative with fresh blood. Although grittier than his science fiction work, which is better known in the U.S. – the best known example of which may be The Airtight Garage – “Moebius” Giraud’s drawings here display his deep artistic talent, especially for line work.

Highly detailed, the work here may put fans of 21st century graphic novels off at first, but you will soon come to appreciate the beautiful line work and framing of each panel. The episodic tale continues in Blueberry 2-5, which I also have.

Chronologically, these stories come late in the career of Mike Blueberry, but this series of graphic story collections, published in France in the early 1970s and in these editions in 1989 by Epic Comics are the few translated into English and available in the U.S. Blueberry I and succeeding volumes are something different and worthy of your attention, especially fans of the western.

~ ~ ~ ~

Series organizer Patti Abbott has all the FFB goods on her blog, Pattinase,
with a list of this week’s participating blogs and, in a day or two, a summary.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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14 Responses to FFB: Blueberry I – Chihuahua Pearl

  1. Darn, this looks good!

  2. This is a great series. Avoid the movie supposedly based on it, though. One of the worst films I’ve ever seen.

  3. Sounds really good for sure, although the name Blueberry doesn’t have any ring at all to it. Sounds fairly goofy.

  4. Richard says:

    In the introduction, it says Mike Blueberry is a pseudonym he made up when he went into the Calvary after the Civil War. Don’t know why.

  5. J F Norris says:

    Ol’ Blueberry looks like he’s ready to model for some enticing cologne advertisement.

    I’ll be looking for him next time I peruse the graphic novels at Quimby’s.

  6. Richard says:

    J.F. – good luck finding them, I doubt there are many copies floating around after this many years.
    [later…] see my comment below to George.

  7. Evan Lewis says:

    Good to see you dabbling in westerns. Never read Blueberry, but I’ve grooved to a lot of other Moebius stuff.

  8. Ron Scheer says:

    Thanks for dropping by my blog today. I’ve made no study of western comics but am wondering how this one fits into the transition to graphic novels. There’s certainly more of an adult good-bad-and-ugly feel to the cover image – that Eastwood squint into the bright desert light. And the unshaven look on the face of a man who is obviously not a villain.

    The hidden stash of gold was a constant theme in western lore. But of all the early westerns I’ve read (1900-1920), I’ve seldom seen a reference to the Civil War or the Confederacy. That must come along as a theme later in the development of the genre. Maybe someone can correct me about this if I’m wrong.

    Thanks, nice job.

  9. Richard says:

    Ron – there is no doubt this was intended as a for-grownups story. Graphic novels in France were far ahead of those in the U.S. in that regard, adult themes (I’m not talking about erotica, though there was also plenty of that) abounded. This one has a whore with a heart of gold – or so it seems – as a major character and there’s even a glimpse of breast in a few panels. (shocking! – well, not really)

    But graphic novels and illustrated fiction was really getting rolling by the time these were published in this country. Heavy Metal magazine had been going strong for a while and there was much grown-up materials at the comic shops.

  10. I’ve never seen this, but I’m interested. I was a voracious reader of HEAVY METAL in the early days.

  11. Richard says:

    I don’t think this ever appeared in excerpt in HM, George, but the timing would have allowed it. I haven’t ever searched for a copy of these, but I can’t imagine they are easily available. I’ll have to look, now you have my curiosity peaked.

  12. Richard says:

    I looked – there are copies, but they aren’t cheap, and there are 5 volumes to buy.

  13. Todd Mason says:

    I wonder how much THE WILD, WILD WEST was an inspiration here…

  14. Richard says:

    Todd – it may have been, though I have never read anything indicating it is. The timing would be about right, if the show was available for viewing in France in it’s first couple of seasons, but these graphic novels don’t have the gimmicks of WWW, they are straight forward western adventures.

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