Asterix book spines with most all of the titles (OK, I'm missing two)

Announcing The Asterix Project

In 2018, it is my goal to review all 34 volumes of “Asterix” that Albert Uderzo drew. (If I get adventurous, there’s a 35th that’s a collection of shorts, too.)

That includes the amazing first 25 books that Rene Goscinny wrote, and the 10 after that which Uderzo did on his own.  Given the wordplay in the books, it’s also important to acknowledge the work of Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge in the English language translations.

I’ve read all but two of the latter volumes before, but haven’t read most of them in the last 5 or 10 years.  So it’ll be like reading them again for the first time in many cases, I’m sure.

Who is calling out to Asterix?

Thankfully, these books are all packed with gags, political and cultural references, and really good art.  They provide plenty of material.

They’re not quick reads, but they’re hilarious reads that deserve all the time I can give them.  This year, that’ll be a lot of time.  There won’t be any problems about running out of things to say.

Why Asterix?


The Enormity of Asterix

Asterix is kind of a big deal in France.  For starters, he has his own theme park.

Ladies and gentlemen, Parc Asterix. conveniently located a half hour north of Paris:

map of Parc Asterix, a half hour north of Paris, France

Yeah, Asterix is big. (If you have an hour to spare, here’s a walk through the park from 2014.)

The first satellite France launched into space in the 1960s?  They named it “Asterix.”

The French satellite, Asterix

There’s even an entry in devoted to Asterix and all the tropes it uses.

Yes, people know the name “Asterix” here in the States.  They may have even been subject to one of those awful cheap cartoon DVDs from the dollar bins at the supermarket at one point.

He’s friggin’ Mickey Mouse in France.



René GoscinnyAlbert Uderzo


A creation of writer Rene Goscinny (left) and artist Albert Uderzo (right), “Asterix” began as a serial in the pages of “Pilote” magazine in 1959. (Goscinny was editing it, so it was an easy sell.) The first album collecting that storyline debuted in 1961, and off they went.  In their first ten years, they published 16 books.  Given the quality of those books, that kind of production is insane.

Uderzo drew 34 books, officially, before he retired. Goscinny, sadly, died in 1977, but wrote the first 25.  At a much slower pace, Uderzo went on to do ten books on his own before retiring.

There’s a lot to be said about how that all worked out, but that’s the topic of another post for another day…

A new creative team, Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad, created the most recent three books.  They’ve sold like gangbusters, and have been good reads, over all. I think one could even credibly argue that they’re better than many — if not most — of Uderzo’s solo work on the series, but we’ll take a careful look at that in the year ahead.


The Asterix Project Schedule

Asterix lost, pointing, calling out to Obelix

The goal here is to start each week with a new Asterix review. There are 34 or 35 books to review, and 52 weeks in the year.  I have some leeway in case I miss a week due to life or a holiday or something.

And, as part of The Asterix Project, you’ll get more than just reviews.  More articles supporting the reviews will pop up from time to time, so keep your eyes open as we go along.

We start with “Asterix the Gaul,” the first book in the series, right here.



Rene Goscinny picture: By Peters, Hans / Anefo – Nationaal Archief Fotocollectie Anefo (cropped) Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989 – negatiefstroken zwart/wit, nummer toegang, bestanddeelnummer 924-5891, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl,

Albert Uderzo picture: By Georges Seguin (Okki) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


  • JC LEBOURDAIS January 14, 2018 at 3:28 am

    Great news!
    It should be interesting to see an outsider’s perspective on such a beloved series here.
    Its creation and origins are so rooted in 1960s French politics (this book started as an allegory of Charles De Gaulle’s view of what France should become after the war) that there are loads of erudite books out there analyzing all the parallels with real life events. It also helped build this self-image that French people still treasure about being the scrawny underdog who always comes out on top at the end.
    The first album’s original printing was only 6000 copies, yet over the years the series sold 350 million volumes to this day (for 34 albums that’s roughly 10 millions per) internationally. Compare that to the thousands and thousands of pages chain-produced by DC for, say, Superman, that leaves me speechless. It made the original publisher rich, yet the French copyright law allowed the original creators to retain all ownership to the characters and maintain the integrity of the series throughout; how great is that?
    Your comparison with Mickey Mouse is right on the money, seeing how the physicality of the main character evolved over the years to match closely the shape of the mouse today. There have been dissertations on how brilliant this is as a marketing move.
    We’ll never sing praise high enough for Goscinny’s genius. Every time I reread any volume of his tenure, I find a little nugget that I missed on the previous 500 reads. It truly is a book for all ages. Kudos to the English translators if they managed to convey that through. And obviously, since you’re primarily an Art guy, Uderzo’s mastery of the pen and brush was always a few notches above the crowd, for the perfect team-up of talents. Lightning in a bottle, as they say.
    Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and read it all again for the first time, so I envy you a little bit now. Enjoy!

    • Augie January 15, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      On my first read through of the series, I remember using a couple websites to clue me into some of the caricatures and background political bits and pieces of the series. I’ll have to see if I can find those sites again. I’m sure I’ll still miss a lot. It’s funny to think about that in this day and age when people like to fight about political content in comics. Goscinny did it all the time, but 50 years later we can’t even tell…

      Now, why is “Asterix and the Class Act” not counted as a volume in the series? It’s a short story collection, but it’s still all original Asterix material by Goscinny and Uderzo. I think it gets short shrift.

      Uderzo’s ink lines are mesmerizing. I didn’t call them out in the first review because I’m pacing myself, but we’ll get to examples of those, too.

      And, yes, this is a much better publishing model than Superman’s. I wish more people had created more new characters than just worked on Superman retreads over and over again. Ah, well….

  • Dan Condon-Jones January 15, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    Ooh, I’ve been half thinking of reading though all of the Asterix books again. I might try to keep up with you on this

    • Augie January 15, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      Thanks, Dan, and please do join me! It shouldn’t ever be more than one per week. I thought about launching with the first two, but didn’t have the time and didn’t want to overwhelm. (The first review is loooong.)


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