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Joyeux 50ème Anniversaire Asterix !

Joyeux 50ème Anniversaire Asterix !

When was the first time you read an Asterix comic strip or saw an Asterix movie ? As for me, I can not remember but it sure has been a long time since. I do remember taking an instant liking to its intelligent hero Asterix and the food loving Obelix.

 

Asterix- Serpe D'or

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of Asterix by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. Let us take a short trip into the world of this Gaulish hero who has captured the heart and fancy of millions of fans around the world since his creation.

 

For the new initiates (I doubt if there are many!), the setting of Asterix is in Gallo-Roman times of Julius Caesar (around 50 BC). Gaul is the rough area of modern day France and Belgium. Asterix and his friends are settlers of an unnamed village in Armorica (modern day Brittany/ Bretagne) that resists Roman invasion and succeeds. The secret of their resistance lies in a magical potion brewed by the village druid named Getafix (Panoramix in French). Asterix is portrayed as a small sized, witty hero whose quick thinking often leads to winning situations. He is often accompanied by Obelix who is rather slow-witted but possesses superhuman strength as he fell into the magic potion as a child. Obelix also has a humongous appetite as he devours roasted boars and others animals that could have otherwise fed the entire village. Dogmatix (Idéfix in French), his dog, sometimes leads the companions out of the trouble.


Even though appearing in Gallo-Roman era, Asterix and his companions, must have been the first global travellers having travelled nearly the world over in their comic strips. Traversing local villages in Gaul to neighbouring countries like Spain, Belgium, England, Switzerland, Germany etc., the companions have also been to the Middle-East and America, sometimes on foot and at others, with a bit of help including from a magic carpet.

 

Uderzo & Goscinny
 

Creation of Asterix is a result of the association of René Goscinny (1926-1977), author, humorist and editor with Albert Uderzo (1927-), illustrator and scriptwriter. Collaborating with each other since 1951, they had worked on the successful comic Oumpah-pah prior to Asterix. They worked together to bring out the comic magazine Pilote in 1959 in whose first issue Asterix first made appearance.


The popularity of Asterix has increased from the time he made his first appearance on 29th October 1959 in the first edition of Pilote- a monthly comic magazine which had the creators of Asterix characters at its helm. The first version of Asterix had psychedelic colours from green smoke to violet boars, Roman tunics from pink to orange as a result of technical challenges of printing during the time. As technology and finances improved, the Gaulish heroes and their plot mates became more chic and savvy. The entire collection was standardized by Uderzo to offer continuity of aesthetics to fans from all age groups.

 

There are often cultural connotations in Asterix comics that may be a bit difficult to grasp at the first instant. There are free on line resources like Open Scroll (for English speakers) that give a detailed explanation of historical references, places and connotations used in available works. For francophones, the website of UHA makes the job easier by giving a detailed dissertation on such allusions, often with the help of a particular illustration.

 

The exhibition Asterix at Musée Cluny is once again bringing the hero to the forefront. Starting on October 28th, a day before the 'official birthday' of October 29th when Asterix first appeared in Pilote. There would be several historical objects from the creators on display for the first time in France- original drawing boards, various albums, typescripts, Goscinny's Royal Keystone typewriter and the first issue of Pilote. The setting for Asterix is frigidarium- the only surviving above-ground monument north of Loire from the Gallo-Roman era- a befitting address indeed!

 

Whether you are a die-hard fan or a newbie, there is something for everyone that will take the visitor on a discovery trip of this French national hero. This will also provide an insight into the collective genius of the creator duo of Goscinny and Uderzo. To mark the anniversary, Uderzo, the surviving partner of the team, is bringing out a brand new album with Asterix short stories and 56 pages of cartoons that have never been published before! The release date is set for October 22nd, 2009*.

 Asterix Livre D'Or

 

There are as many as 33 Asterix albums. These have been translated in over 100 languages. Asterix has also been liberally adapted for films over a period of time, in addition to video games, appearing in as many as 8 animated and 3 live action films.

 

At 50 years of age, there is no doubt that Asterix has a prominent place in the hall of comic book fame! Here's to his long life!

 

*A 56 page album titled 'Le Livre d'Or d'Astérix : un album d'histoires courtes inédites' was released by Editions Albert René. It is priced at 9.20€


Some resources:


Official website of Asterix

In English, French, German, Dutch and Spanish. An excellent resource for information pertaining to creators, characters, Asterix encyclopedia, latest information etc.


Parc Asterix

It is a theme park situated 35 kms North of Paris. It is open from April to August and selectively in other months. Opening hours are from 10:00 AM- 06:00 PM.

Day pass: 39€ for Adult/ 29€ for Children

The park is easily accessible from Paris by RER & Shuttle from Roissy (7.50€/5.50€ round trip). Direct shuttle service from Louvre museum has recently been launched (20€/ 16€ round trip).

Official website of Parc Asterix

 

Asterix at Musée Cluny

From October 28th, 2009- January 3rd, 2010

6, place Paul Painlevé, 75005, Paris
Tel: +33 (0) 1 53 73 78 00
Metro: Cluny-La Sorbonne (Line 10), Saint-Michel/ Odéon (Line 4)
Bus: 21, 27, 38, 63, 85, 86, 87 (Bus stop: Cluny/ Dante)
RER C: Saint-Michel, RER B: Cluny - La Sorbonne

Entrance: 8€/ 6€

Free on first Sunday of every month.

Get details

Asterix at Musée Cluny

 

Photo Courtesy: RMN for Exhibition Asterix at Musée Cluny

  • La Serpe d’or by Albert Uderzo. Album n°2, 1962. Vignette extraite de la planche n°1. Collection particulière. © 2009 Les Éditions Albert René / Goscinny-Uderzo
  • Albert Uderzo et René Goscinny © Archives Anne Goscinny