Friday, November 9, 2012

Pesky Romans

Welcome back to "Sounds Better In A Bubble," the comic book blog!! As I'm sure you are well aware, comics are a visual means of telling character driven stories, with that in mind I would like to share with you one of my favorite characters; "Asterix." Some of you may be unfamiliar with this title, but if you can find copies I promise you are in for a treat.

Co-Created by Rene Goscinny (writer) and Albert Udzero (illustrator), "Asterix" is the story of an unbeatable spirit and a response to the historical breaking of Gaul by Rome (i.e. actual figures from the past like Vercengetorix.) "Asterix le Gaulois", in English "Asterix the Gaul" first appeared in Pilote magazine a French publication started by the aforementioned creators as a strip.

The story is set during the Roman occupation of Gaul (modern day France) by Julius Caesar and his hapless legionnaires. I say hapless because old Julius has managed to conquer every tribe in Gaul with the exception of our protagonists people.Asterix is the leader of the "Invincible Gauls," a tribe who through Asterix's cunning,his enormous pal, Obelix's strength, and the local Druid Getafix's magic potion, are able to keep the invaders at bay.

Udzero's artwork is truly fantastic in this series. Asterix might easily be characterized as the "Mighty Thor's" mini-me, while his friend Obelix reminds one of a football with an egg on top. The colors pop off the page (especially in the modern trade's revamping of the original plate and line work) and pull the reader into this strange little world a thousand lifetimes ago.

The Gauls take on the Romans in adventures all over Europe, always managing to stay one step ahead of their would be masters. I began reading the stories in comic book form (they are available in trade/book form today) while living in Germany in the mid 1970's and found myself hooked immediately. Translated into more than a dozen languages, you can easily find the "Asterix" stories in English, or if you prefer as I do, read them in the original French.

While the stories are aimed at children there is a subtle subtext commenting on modern events that adults can relate to. The initial run created during Charles de Gaulle's tenure are (or may be viewed as) veiled commentary on the happenings in French political life at the time. Goscinny's writing and humor is sharp and witty, while not so overbearing that it would detract from a child's enjoyment of a very funny comic. After Goscinny's death his co-creator continued the series assuming writing and illustrating duties until retiring in 2011. He handed his legacy over to the publishing firm Hachette, which now owns the rights, with the next volume scheduled for release sometime in 2013.

Along with the wonderful comic, the magic that is "Asterix", has also been translated onto film. With better than a dozen animated versions, there are also several live action films as well. I am no film critic, but I enjoyed the goofiness that is this comics trademark on the screen very much. With that said, I hope you will avail yourself of some great Asterix stories. These may be difficult to find at your local comic shop, but look around and it will be well worth the time!!! (1)
1. Link to the official site:

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