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Asterix is Finally Happening 


Monday, August 27, 2007

It's drawing to the end of the summer, so perhaps the local kids are returning their books back to the library. I finally got my hands on Asterix the Gaul, the very first Asterix comic in the series, which first appeared as a serial comic on October 29, 1959 and were published in book form in 1961. Hopefully, I will have better luck finding the subsequent Asterix books so I can read them chronologically.

Asterix the Gaul sets up the Asterix universe scenario: where do these set of Gauls get their strength? The story revolves around the magic potion, which, for those of you who didn't grow up on Asterix comics, gives this one last unconquered Gaulish village's citizens superhuman strength to take on Julius Caesar's legionaries. Getafix the Druid does explain that the potion gives one strength but not invulnerability. To contain the uncooperating natives, the Roman army has set up four garrisons around the village, resulting in a little-known historical stalemate. With this simple recurring gag, René Goscinny fuelled 24 further books and, after his death, illustrator Albert Uderzo continued the series for, so far, another nine books.

In Asterix the Gaul, we're introduced to many of the major characters, including a last-minute cameo by Julius Caesar to usher in the sequels: ".....this is only a truce, Gaul. We shall meet again." However, many of the favourite Gauls are either missing or undeveloped. Cacofonix, the lousiest bard in all of Gaul, for example, is a respected musician in this book. On page 19, the Gauls are impatient for him to start playing, probably for the last time in the series. But Vitalstatistix appears in a mere two panels, there is no Impedimenta, Fulliautomatix the blacksmith looks nothing like himself, there is no Unhygenix or Geriatrix yet, which means no Mrs. Geriatrix.


However, the names of the male characters are always a fun puzzle to try and figure out. (The female names all end in -a.) The Gaulish male names always end in -ix, the Roman ones in -us. Aside from the regular cast, a Gaulish bit-player in this book was Tenansix (Ten and six). The Romans were:
  • Crismus Bonus (Christmas Bonus)
  • Julius Pompus
  • Marcus Ginantonicus (Gin and Tonic)
  • Caligula Minus (who becomes Caliguliminix when disguised as a Gaul; Caligula means Little Boots - the nickname of the crazy emperor Caligula - and Minus is also a diminutive as pointed out by Asterix NZ)
  • Tullius Octopus
  • Gracchus Sextilius
  • Claudius Quintilius
  • Caius Flebitus
I own the next two books, Asterix and the Golden Sickle and Asterix and the Goths, though the latter is in Romanian, a language I am still learning. I will read the Romanian version as well as the English version, and compare the two in an upcoming post.

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Comments:
OMG, an asterix AND tintin fan! the finest. tell me - you don't happen to know lucky luke as well, do you?
 
Oh, you know your European comics! Yay!

I do know Lucky Luke. I hang out in comic book shops a lot, even when I travel. I also like the original Smurfs, rather underrated in my opinion, not at all like the cartoon.

However, I haven't read any Lucky Luke. Hmm, maybe I need to further expand my comics horizon.

Have you read Gaston Lagaffe? This is one of the next comics I want to read. I also have some comics in Dutch, Finnish and German, but I need to learn those languages first.
 
no, i have no idea about gaston lagaffe. at least it doesn't ring a bell.

there was a time in the early to middle sixties when there was quite a proliferation of interesting family-type comics in europe. let me think ... captain blackbeard was one, then for a while there was a series about a funny little jungle animal with an incredibly long tail ... and yes, the smurfs. i could never get too much into them (but then i also detested the bee gees, i think i'm much more tolerant now)

would love to see your german comics on day!
 
aaah, i meant "one" day.
 
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