The Adventures of Asterix is a series of French comic books written by Réne Goscinny (story) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). The storyline follows a village in Gaul 50 B.C., the only village that has not been conquered by the Romans, thanks to a magic potion which gives superhuman strength brewed by the village druid. The story centers around the Gaulish warrior Asterix and his friend Obelix.
The 33 original books were originally written in French, but have been translated into numerous other languages, including English, Dutch, German, Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Portuguese, Italian, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, modern Greek, Turkish, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Serbian and Croatian.
History of the series
Astérix was originally a serialised story in the French magazine Pilote. Asterix the Gaul, the first story in the series, was originally published as a book in 1961. Since then, stories were released each year. After Goscinnys death in 1977, Uderzo continued the series on a less frequent basis. Asterix and the Falling Sky, the last book to date, was released in 2005.
The Asterix series is translated into English by Anthea Bell, one of the world's leading translators.
In the comics, many things and peoples Asterix and Obelix encounter are exaggerated copies of 20th century things. For example, the phlegmatic British in Asterix in Britain drive chariots on the left side of the road, drink warm beer or hot water with milk (before Asterix brought tea to Britain), and serve all their food with mint sauce. Belgians are shown as hearty and athletic, consuming huge amounts of beer and food. The Goths are unscrupulous and imperialistic, wearing helmets similar to those worn by Germans during WWI.
Other elements are also satirized, including paintings, television shows, and 20th century characters. For instance, Britains most famous musicians look remarkably like the Beatles.
This section is about the English names, not the French ones.
The names in Asterix are not only puns, they end in prefixes different for each tribe. For example, the names of the male Gauls and Belgians end with -ix, for example, the chief of the Gauls is named Vitalstatistix, the village bard is named Cacofonix, the two Belgian chiefs are named Beefix and Brawnix, the proprietor of a Gaulish restaurant in Rome is named Instantmix, and the village druid, who provides potions and medicine, is named Getafix. Female names typically end with -a, such as Impedimenta, Bacteria, and Influenza. British names end with -ax, such as Selectivemploymentax, Hiphiphurrahax, and Valueaddedtax. Gothic names end with -ic, such as Electric, Choleric, and Metric. Roman males' names end with -us and are often two names: Crismus Bonus, Odious Asparagus, Gracchi Armisurplus, Spurious Brontosaurus, Habeascorpus, and Osseus Humerous. (In Asterix the Gladiator, a Roman centurion calls to one of his men: "Open up, Sendervictorious! It's me, Appianglorious!--a play on the line in God Save the Queen"Send her victorious, happy, and glorious.") Egyptian names end in -is such as Edifis and Artifis from Asterix and Cleopatra. Norman names end in -af such as Telegraf, Fotograf, Chiffchaf, and Toocleverbyhaf. Viking names end with -ssen such as Hareldwillssen.
There are numerous running gags in Asterix. One of the most famous is Obelix tapping his head and saying "These [people] are crazy!" whenever he discovers some oddity in culture: the lighthouse at Pharaos, the Roman baths, the Normans search for fear in Asterix and the Normans, or any other difference. Another is that at the end-of-the-book feast, Cacofonix the bard is usually tied up and gagged to prevent him singing. There are exceptions to this, such as in Asterix and the Normans, when his awful singing routed the Normans.
Another is a band of pirates which appear in almost every book after Asterix the Gladiator. Whenever Asterix and Obelix meet them, the two Gauls sink the pirate ship. Although the pirates attempt to avoid all Gaulish vessels, inevitably Asterix and Obelix are on board the one they attack. In two books (Asterix in Spain and Asterix and the Great Crossing) Asterix and Obelix take all the food on board but leave the ship.
For a more detailed treatment, see Characters in Asterix.