Title: Asterix the Gaul
Author: Rene Goscinny
Illustrator: Albert Uderzo
Genre: Comicbook, Adventure, Graphic Novel
Asterix the Gaul is the first in the series of the world popular Franco- Belgian comics, which initially appeared in a French magazine in 1959. The series has since been translated to more than 100 languages worldwide and has an iconic fan following.
Asterix, the main character, has been the star of my childhood. I encountered the first Asterix comic when I was 10 and the elaborate illustrations, the puns, the strange names had me hooked. I tried to get hold of as many of the books as possible, which was not very easy. It also took me years to understand fully the word play and the historical events mentioned in the comics. But Asterix, the other Gauls and the Romans had woven their magic and I still like my books to be witty, even snidely sarcastic.
Revisiting the hugely popular comic books has been a treat. I am a self professed fan (to make matters clearer, no, I don’t dig Tintin) and started with the first in the series, Asterix the Gaul which introduces the setting and the chief characters.
Gaul has been conquered by Romans and only one tiny village holds the legionaries at bay because of a magic potion that gives them superhuman powers. The hero is Asterix, the short, shrewd guy with his sidekick, Obelisk, the giant, menhir bearing, boar eating fellow. There is the druid, Getafix, who brews the magic potion that the village draws its strength from.
When the Roman chief at the camp Compendium resolves to learn the secret of the indestrutible Gauls, he sends in a spy. The spy is found out soon after but the Druid and Asterix are captured by the Romans. There follows a battle of wits and laugh inducing situations that end well for the Gauls.
This first comic was published in 1961 and an animated movie was produced in 1967.
What I like
It isn’t just the magic and adventure and the battles that draw the reader in. There are plenty of puns, caricatures and tongue in cheek stereotypes to keep you engaged.
One of my favourite characters is Cacofonix, the bard who is not allowed to sing at feasts because of the terrible cacophony his singing is. He does get to sing in the first comic, though.
The historical references are very interesting and so are the Latin puns. The drawings are par excellence.
I also like the excessive usage of the exclamation marks (!?) that dramatize the context even further.
Revisit the comics if you are a fan or read them one at a time to have a roller coaster adventurous ride that tickles your brain and your humour.