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.
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.
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:
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.”
There’s even an entry in TVTropes.com 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.
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
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.
Get Started Today!
Here’s a rundown of the first ten books:
Volume 1: “Asterix the Gaul“
Volume 2: “Asterix and the Golden Sickle“
Volume 3: “Asterix and the Goths“
Volume 4: “Asterix the Gladiator“
Volume 5: “Asterix and the Banquet“
Volume 6: “Asterix and Cleopatra“
Volume 7: “Asterix and the Big Fight“
Volume 8: “Asterix in Britain“
Volume 9: “Asterix and the Normans“
Volume 10: “Asterix the Legionary“
You can find links to all of the reviews now on the Pipeline Portal: The Asterix Agenda page.
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 2.24.01.05, bestanddeelnummer 924-5891, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22670427
Albert Uderzo picture: By Georges Seguin (Okki) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3741094