The latest Asterix comic book is available since this morning in the shops all over France. It is number 39 and fits very well in my collection.
I have of course read it immediately when I got home
The release of an Asterix album is always an event in France and in the world of comics, and the release of the 39th album in the saga, Asterix and the Griffin, is once again highly anticipated. In this new adventure, the little moustachioed man born more than 60 years ago will travel to the heart of Eastern Europe to meet the Sarmatians, a little-known people who really existed. Between his historical references, his humour that has become a cult and his truculent characters, the famous Gaul continues, year after year, to build an empire that is more or less well known by all generations.
Before diving into his new epic, here are 39 things you need to know about Asterix, his fathers and his colourful universe, by Toutatis!
© Alexandre Mistretta – franceinfo Culture / Translation © J2S
- The irreducible Gaul, created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, made his first appearance for the launch of Pilote magazine on 29 October 1959. He was imagined during a summer evening that same year in a Bobigny HLM where, according to Uderzo, the creators had consumed “a lot of pastis and cigarettes”.
- Before appearing in album form for the first time in October 1961, the adventures of Asterix the Gaul were pre-published by episode in the first 38 issues of the weekly magazine Pilote (29 October 1959 to 14 July 1960). The first issue of the newspaper sold 300,000 copies.
- The last Asterix pre-published in Pilote magazine was Asterix in Corsica (1973). For the occasion, the book was translated into Corsican and gave birth to the character with the longest surname in the series, Chief Ocatarinabellatchitchix.
- Asterix and Obelix are inspired by the actors Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Both actors are among the creators’ influences. In fact, Uderzo inserted the two artists as Roman legionaries in Obelix and Company (1976).
- As for the first Asterix album, only 6000 copies were published. And it is the only comic strip from the Goscinny-Uderzo era that has a panel not produced by Albert Uderzo. Due to lack of time, he entrusted the task to his brother Marcel Uderzo. His drawing can be found on page 35 of the first volume.
- After colouring a horse green, Albert Uderzo realised that he was colour-blind. He entrusts the colouring of Asterix to his brother Marcel Uderzo. The latter took on this task until the twenty-fourth volume of the Gaul’s adventures, Asterix in Belgium (1979).
- Asterix in Belgium (1979) was the last book in which Goscinny was able to participate. And it was almost the last adventure of the warrior. Before his death, Goscinny was in dispute with Dargaud, his publisher at the time. The scriptwriter asked Uderzo not to finish the album. The cartoonist insisted on respecting his friend’s last wishes. But faced with pressure from the publishers, Uderzo completed the 8 missing pages of the script. He took the opportunity to pay tribute to his colleague in the last panel of the album with a rabbit that leaves crying. The rabbit is a reference to the nickname given by Goscinny’s wife to her husband.
- Before his death, Goscinny was working on a last adventure, the draft of which he left behind, called Asterix in the Circus.
- With the loss of Goscinny, Uderzo hesitated to continue the story of the Gaulish village alone. In order to continue the story, he was urged to do so by the fans, who did not hesitate to send him letters telling him to continue. One year after the publication of Asterix in Belgium (1979), Uderzo published his first solo Asterix with Le Grand Fossé (1980). The album sold 1,700,000 copies.
- During the Goscinny-Uderzo era, the method of composing an Asterix was always the same. Goscinny wrote 44 paragraphs corresponding to the 44 pages of the album. Uderzo would then draw the first sketches before handing over to Goscinny so that he could develop the story. Finally, Uderzo would finalise the details before the book was published.
- Albert Uderzo worked on 10 solo albums before handing over to Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad in 2013. The new duo released Asterix and the Picts (2013). The book sold 2 million copies in France.
- Asterix and the Griffin is the fifth book by the duo Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad. It has been translated into 17 languages and has sold 5 million copies worldwide. The cameo in this latest opus is the writer Michel Houellebecq in the role of the Roman geographer Terrinconus.
- The handover was a heartbreaker for Uderzo. But with age he had to resign himself to it. So to choose his successors, he organised a secret competition with the Albert René publishing house, of which he was the sole member of the jury. After an anonymous reading of the scripts and drawings, Albert Uderzo chose Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad.
- The thirty-ninth album to be released this Thursday is the last album of which Albert Uderzo was aware.
- In total, the stories of this irreducible Gaulish people have sold more than 380 million copies throughout the world. A figure that makes it the second best-selling comic strip behind the Japanese manga One Piece.
- Asterix is one of the best-known French ambassadors abroad, as his adventures have been translated into 111 languages, including Korean, Russian and Latin.
- The first translation of Asterix took place in 1961 with the release of Asterix the Gaul. The book was translated into Portuguese and then into English, Dutch, Castilian, German and Turkish.
- Asterix’s first trip outside Gaul was to Germany with Asterix and the Goths (1963).
- Asterix and the Goths is also the only album where a character other than Getafix knows the recipe for the magic potion. Claiming to want a Gallic soup as a last wish, the druid reveals the list of ingredients to the jailer. Among them are lobster and mistletoe.
- This third album had a print run of 15,000 copies and its original plates were lost. But above all, there were “pirate” reprints in Germany that changed the work because of the political situation in the country in 1963. On learning of this, Goscinny and Uderzo went to court and won their case. They then contacted a publisher to ensure that their work would be faithfully translated. Since then, Asterix has been a great success in Germany, with over 120 million albums sold.
- As far as Asterix’s travels are concerned, the album Asterix in Helvetia (1971) was suggested to Uderzo and Goscinny by Georges Pompidou.
- In the first 38 albums, Obelix swallowed 104 boars.
- Asterix has always made reference to current events or personalities. In Asterix and Cleopatra, we find the future obelisk that will be installed on the Place de la Concorde. In Le Combat des chefs, the Marsupilami appears. In Asterix and the Bretons, the cartoonists inserted the Beatles. The two authors also caricatured themselves in Asterix at the Olympic Games. They are present under the two characters called Despot and Tyrant.
Asterix and his companions
- Asterix and Obelix’s first names come from typographic symbols. Asterix takes his name from the asterisk, the little star (*) used to refer to footnotes. As for his long-time friend, it comes from the obelisk, a dagger-shaped sign used to indicate the death of a person mentioned in a text.
- As for Dogmatix, his first name is an invention of the readers. During a competition organised by the two creators of the comic book to find the name of the two warriors’ travelling companion, four readers sent in the name of Dogmatix. The name was chosen by Goscinny and Uderzo and allowed the senders of the letter to win a free subscription to Pilote magazine. Other names considered included Patracourcix and Papeurdurix!
- Dogmatix appeared for the first time in the fifth volume of the adventures of the moustachioed boy, Asterix’s Tour de Gaule (1965). In this episode, the dog does not yet have a name and is taken in by Obelix at the very end of the story. Originally, the little animal was only intended for this chapter. However, the success of the story with readers led Goscinny and Uderzo to include him permanently.
- Dogmatix was not the first character to be acclaimed by the public. The integration of pirates with Redbeard in Asterix Gladiator (1964) was very popular. At the request of the fans, these characters were to return on a recurring basis.
- Our heroes’ little pet even had its own animation studio called Studios Idéfix. During its four years of existence, it produced two animated films: Les Douze Travaux d’Astérix (1976) and La Ballade des Dalton (1978). The latter features the adventures of Lucky Luke and the Daltons.
- The first appearance of Asterix and Obelix in a feature film was in Pierre Tchernia’s 1967 television film Deux Romains en Gaule. The two characters appeared in animated form. The film script was written by Uderzo and Goscinny.
- The year 1967 also saw the arrival of the first full-length film of Asterix’s adventures in the cinema with the cartoon Asterix the Gaul by Ray Goossens. The film, made without the knowledge of Goscinny and Uderzo, was a great success with 2.4 million admissions.
- While Asterix the Gaul is a big hit on the big screen, Goscinny and Uderzo learn that the adaptation of The Golden Serpent is in production, once again behind their backs. This time, they do not agree to a theatrical release and ask for the project to be destroyed.
- Out of the ten animated Asterix films, the actor Roger Carel has lent his voice to the valiant Gaul nine times. For the last animated film, Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion, released in 2018, the dubbing actor was replaced by Christian Clavier, the first actor to have played Asterix in the cinema.
- The first film in the Asterix saga was directed by Claude Zidi with Asterix and Obelix vs Caesar (1999). He called on Jean-Jacques Goldman and Roman Romanelli to sign the film’s soundtrack.
- In all, Asterix and Obelix were shown on the big screen 14 times. Ten times in animated films, including two in 3D, and four times in film. Moreover, Alain Chabat’s Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (2002) still holds the record for the number of tickets sold for Asterix films, with 14,559,509 tickets sold. The next Asterix in the cinema has already been announced for 2022. Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom will be directed by Guillaume Canet
- Louis de Funès almost played Asterix in the cinema. According to Uderzo, the actor dreamed of playing the character but refused because of the moustaches he would have had to wear. The famous actor should have been accompanied by Lino Ventura in the role of Obelix.
- The first French satellite sent into space was named Asterix, after the hero created by Goscinny and Uderzo. It was launched on 26 November 1965.
- Although Parc Asterix was opened in 1989, it was not the first park bearing the name of the Gaul to open in France. In 1967, Uderzo and Goscinny authorised the creation of a Parc Asterix near Nice. But the project turned into a disaster and soon had to close its doors.
- Just like Julius Caesar, Asterix’s face has found its way onto coins. The first time was in 2013 with three Asterix coins from three comic books. And then in 2015, with 24 types of €10 coins bearing his likeness, two silver ones worth €50 and one gold one worth €500. This is equivalent to 658 sesterces for the most expensive coin.
- The character of Asterix has been adapted in several media. There are 39 video games based on the licence. The first one, in 1983, is darkly named Asterix, released on Atari 2600. The last one, entitled Asterix and Obelix: Baffle Them All, is scheduled for release on 25 November 2021.