Asterix’s 50th anniversary marred by French villagers’ squabble over Gaul inspiration

 The harbour in Erquy, which claims that it is the inpsiration for the village depicted in the Asterix books, is shown next to the harbour as depicted in "Le domaine des dieux" (The Mansion of the Gods)  Photo: AFP

The harbour in Erquy, which claims that it is the inpsiration for the village depicted in the Asterix books, is shown next to the harbour as depicted in "Le domaine des dieux" (The Mansion of the Gods) Photo: AFP

According to a variety of online sources, the festivities around Asterix’s 50th birthday have been spoiled by sqabbling between French villages over who was the inspiration for the warrior’s hamlet of indomitable Gauls.

Asterix’s creators, the late writer Rene Goscinny and illustrator Albert Uderzo, have never given hints as to which village inspired them in the depiction of the hamlet in a forest by the sea besieged by Caesar’s legions.

But people living in Erquy on the Breton peninsula’s rocky northern coast, insist that the village on the first page of every Asterix book, focused on by a microscope, shares geographical similarities to their picturesque fishing port.

“You see these three rocks? They’re the same as those you see under the magnifying glass!” the Telegraph quoted Jean-Pierre Allain, a retired bookseller and passionate amateur archaeologist, as saying.

The other clue to support the claim is a lighthouse on the jetty which reportedly looks like the “Caeser’s camp” on page four of Asterix’s 1971 adventure “The Mansions of the Gods”.

Manuel Mendes, a stonemason whose girth apparently resembles that of Obelix, Asterix’s huge comrade, said: “Asterix’s village is here.”

Among the other villages, where people have made similar claims are the one in nearby Normandy and one 285 miles away in the Calais region.

The anniversary is expected to be hugely celebrated in France, and will be marked with the launch of the 34th book about the first century BC hero.

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Take 15% off to celebrate the 50th birthday of Astérix

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

Asterix to celebrate birthday at the Museum of the Middle Ages

According to Reuters.com, the opening of a year-long celebration of the 50th birthday of famous Gallic cartoon character Asterix, is to occur at the
Museum of the Middle Ages (Jan. 3, 2010). Asterix, created by writer Rene Goscinny and illustrator Albert Uderzo, first appeared in the French comic magazine Pilote in October 1959.

IMG_2207The National Museum of the Middle Ages (Musée National du Moyen Âge), also known as the Cluny Museum (Musee de Cluny), is the perfect place for the opening events as it is a famous institution that displays a magnificent collection of medieval art in a 15th-century Gothic mansion. As an added bonus, underneath the museum are the ruins of ancient Roman baths.

The Musée National du Moyen Age is housed in the Hôtel de Cluny, one of only two remaining medieval homes in Paris (the other is the Hôtel de Sens in the Marais). The building was founded by the rich and powerful 15th-century abbot of Cluny Abbey, Jacques d’Amboise, who constructed his mansion over the ruins of a Roman bath.

In addition to abbots, the Hôtel de Cluny hosted other notable residents, including Mary Tudor, widow of Louis XII, beginning in 1515. Seized during the French Revolution, the Cluny was rented in 1833 to Alexandre du Sommerard, an amateur art collector who was fascinated with the Middle Ages. After his death in 1842, the government bought the building and the collection.

For more fun facts about the museum, click here.

Seduction tips from The Little Prince

Prince Charming reads up on seduction tips.

Prince Charming reads up on seduction tips.

Oprah.com has an article on love and seduction, and bizarrely uses a quote from The Little Prince as a springboard on how to “seduce your man.”

One of my favorite quotes about love comes from the book The Little Prince: “It’s only with the heart that one can see rightly; what’s most important is invisible to the eye.”

Nothing wrong so far. In fact, that is a great quote. But wait.

I love that the Little Prince recognized that the heart (another metaphysical word for soul) is the best lens for love—making this Little Prince a major Prince Charming.

OK. “lens for love” is a little cheesy, as is “prince charming”. We love the Little Prince, but I don’t think anyone would call that celestial little boy a “Prince Charming.” In fact, he got a little weird from time to time.

All of this brings me to…seduction tips for your man.

Wait. What?

The use of the quotes got really creepy really fast. Oddly, the author never again refers to the Little Prince. Perhaps she realized that using an image of a child (albeit a fictional one) to discuss adult seduction was inappropriate?? YOW!

Little Prince goes CGI

little_princeAccording to online news sources, French distributor PGS Entertainment has licensed a series based on classic children’s novel The Little Prince to broadcasters in Europe and Australia. No word yet on the American market.

The new series has been snapped up by broadcasters including France 3, WDR (Germany), Rai (Italy), TV2 (Denmark), TV2 (Norway), ABC (Australia), MTV3 (Finland) and TSR (Switzerland).

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book has been translated into 220 languages and has sold 134 million copies worldwide. And now it is currently in production as a 52×30′ high-definition CGI series in a collaboration between Method Animation, the Saint Exupéry estate, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, La Fabrique d’Images, DQ Entertainment, ARD and Rai Fiction. PGS is handling worldwide distribution, excluding Asia (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) and the SAARC region (DQ Entertainment).

What does this mean for the US? Not sure yet, but we will keep our ears open and let you know as soon as we do.

Asterix turns 50 with new book

Our friend Asterix has turned 50 and his birthday is being celebrated with a new book, the “Gold Book”.

The new book isn’t an entire story. Rather, it consists of 56 pages of unpublished drawings. “It’s a little different from the classic albums,” Uderzo revealed to dozens of journalists, since “they are short stories, in which all the characters refer to the anniversary.” Uderzo, who declined to disclose details in order to give each reader the pleasure of getting to know little by little the plot, only commented that the new book contains many of the friends that Asterix has accumulated over fifty years, since everyone is invited to the big party that the villagers have prepared.

The artist recalled the birth of these adventures, when on October 29, 1959 the Gauls appeared in the first issue of the weekly magazine Pilote, a magazine that aimed to address the invasion of U.S. comics.

Asterix the Gaul, in book form came out in 1961 and since then millions of readers have benefited from the 32 books that followed, plus eight animated films.

There is a great AFP video – which they won’t let anyone embed – showing the press conference. You can find it here.

asterix-video