October 29 marks the 50th birthday of Astérix. We at Wündertime are going to celebrate with a one day sale of 15% off all Astérix merchandise. We are still working hard to get the site up and running in time. In case we don’t, the sale will occur at our parent site: ShopEssentials.net/Asterix.
More details to follow.
In the meantime, we have copied in a great article on the Mighty Gaul’s birthday celebration from the Independent, a UK paper.
By Rob Sharp on October 14, 2009:
A map of France is cracked by a Roman standard driven into the ground. To one side a magnifying glass focuses on a “Gaulish village” surrounded by four Roman outposts: Aquarium, Totorum, Laudanum and Compendium. Who would have thought – given such adverse circumstances – that one of that village’s most famous denizens, namely, Asterix the Gaul, would live to reach the grand old age of 50?
But on 29 October, the tiny settlement’s shrewd, miniature protector – along with Obelix, his menhir-sized mate, and various neighbours – will celebrate their half century. To mark the occasion, the books’ publisher, Orion, is organising an exhibition showcasing some of the original Asterix artwork at the only surviving Gallo-Roman monument in the whole of France (in Bourgogne – looking at the map at the beginning of an Asterix book, that’s almost in Lutetia territory, or Luxembourg). Also celebrating the birthday is a new book of short stories, Asterix and Obelix’s Birthday: The Golden Book, published next Thursday.
Asterix began life in 1959 as a serial in the French comics periodical Pilote. The comics were written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo, by that stage a veteran comic-writing partnership of seven years. When Goscinny died in 1977, Uderzo continued to write the books himself – and we’re very glad he did. His inventive, bacchanalian characterisations of gluttonous Romans and their wily opposition has managed to wow successive generations of school children (and their potion-swilling ways inspiring at least one Disney cartoon, Gummi Bears).
My own introduction to Asterix came in the late 1980s. Asterix gradually seeped, rather than crashed into my consciousness. There was always one or two of Goscinny and Uderzo’s books – Asterix and the Normans, Asterix and the Big Fight, Asterix and the Cultural Stereotype (maybe not the last one) – knocking around the school library. With the annuals’ healthy length and quirky one-liners – despite some parts being lost in translation – they were always an unusual, if fun choice. You could almost split the class into two halves, those who liked the unrelenting slapstick of Asterix, and those who liked the more intelligent, more formal plot structure of the Gaul’s Belgian competitor-with-a-quiff, Tintin.
The proof, however, is in the boar’s tripe. Asterix has now been translated into over 100 languages, sold 325 million copies of 33 books, spawned eight animated adventures and three live action films (how did Gérard Depardieu ever live his turn as Obelix down?). The unsung heroes, though, as far as British audiences are concerned, have to be Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge, who have translated the books into English. Without their work, there would be no “by the gods,” or “by toutatis”, just two of many catchphrases they have helped popularise. Altogether now: “These Romans are crazy!” Rob Sharp