Asterix and the Great Crossing cover detail by Albert Uderzoq

Asterix v22: “Asterix and the Great Crossing”

Asterix as the Statue of Liberty

We celebrate the Fourth of July 2018 with a look at the time Asterix and Obelix visited our fine land, without ever knowing it. The Vikings followed hot on their heels, coincidentally, and also had no clue where they were.

Asterix and the Great Crossing cover by Albert Uderzo
 Writer: Rene Goscinny
Artist: Albert Uderzo
Translators: Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge
Published by: Orion (Hachette)
Number of Pages: 48
Original Publication: 1975
Original Title: “La Grande Traversée”

The Story of This Book

Supply lines for fresh fish from Paris are blocked, so Asterix and Obelix volunteer to go fishing to bring back some fresh fish.

Unhygeinix sells only top quality Lutetian fish

Their boat hits some rough waves, gets lost in some fog, and winds up washing ashore in the New World.  Only Asterix and Obelix don’t realize it.  They assume they’re in some strange Roman stronghold — one with turkeys!

They run into some Native Americans there, are welcomed into their tribe, and can’t figure out for themselves who these crazy Romans are the entire time.  How fast can they get home with some fish?

They get out with the help of the equally lost Vikings from Denmark, who bring the two Gauls back with them to prove they’ve been to the New World.

This is the story of the time Asterix and Obelix came to America and had no idea. It’s that profound lack of knowledge throughout the course of this book that provides all the laughs.

Nobody Understands Anybody

Obelix watches as the Native American gesticulates in his general direction

The real humor of this book comes from the culture clashes of people speaking different languages not being able to communicate with each other.  It leads them to crazy conclusions, and ridiculously funny situations.

The best part of the book, for my money is near the end.  Asterix and Obelix flag a ship down to come save them.  The Vikings from Denmark want to “capture” Asterix and Obelix to bring them back to their home to prove they’ve discovered a new land.

Ultimately, both sides want the same thing — to get on the boat and go home.  But they can’t communicate it.  They wave their hands and talk slowly and simply, but nothing gets through.

Then their dogs talk and realize what’s going on, and they have a big laugh.

That’s still not enough. It’s the impending threat of the Native Americans coming for them that scares them all into the boat and away they go.

Obelix is tripped up by the Vikings lettering

Bonus points: The lettering for the Danes includes the slash through the letter “O” and the dots above certain vowels to make it look more Scandinavian, even though all of the words are just the English spellings.  Obelix even points this out in one panel.

The reason why this book succeeds is just the way Goscinny structures the story.  It’s not the deepest or most philosophical story.  It doesn’t have the most cultural references or the best characterization or the most wonderful scenic vistas, but it works from the way the three groups of people — the Danes, the Gauls, and the Native Americans — parallel each other in different ways.

It works from the structure of the story.  This book is really closer to being three different books, and could easily be titled “Asterix Goes to America and Denmark.”  It’s a survival tale at first, but the whole thing becomes the best kind of farce very quickly.

It’s almost like a Seinfeld episode, where everyone has their own story, but they all converge into one by the end somehow.

Details, All the Details

Now, it wasn’t just because the fishmonger, Unhygeinix, was doing bad business that Asterix and Obelix shipped off to sea.  No, all of a sudden and for the first time in 22 volumes, fish is now an important ingredient for Getafix’s Magic Potion recipe.  At one point in “Asterix the Gaul“, he mentions lobster being added for taste, but never has the Magic Potion recipe required any kind of fish.

This is the biggest cheat of the book.  But, as we’ve said a million times before, so long as it leads to The Funny, who am I to complain?

One deep cut in the book is what Obelix, having been welcomed into the tribe, does a tribal dance and adds his own flourish:

Asterix dances with an Ole from the Spaniards

Looks like he remembered his lessons from “Asterix in Spain“. Later in the book, the natives repeat “Ole” back to him along with their all-too-ubiquitous “How”s.

The Prerequisite Modern Sensitivities Section

I worried going into this book.  It was published in 1975.  We still used the term “Indians” back then, and the images we had came from television and movie westerns, usually of savages who cut off scalps and speak funny.

Here I am, in 2018, about to review a book that’s a ticking time bomb of cultural sensitivities.  I expected lots of “Hows” and stilted dialogue and cliches that made the native looks really bad.

What we get is a relatively generic representation of Native Americans that hits just about every stereotype you could ask for and represents no single tribe.  They sleep in teepees.  They build totems.  War paint decorates their faces and bodies.  They climb through trees and hunt for local animals.  They regard people from the new world with suspicion, but eventually try to marry off one of their daughters to Obelix.

And they do say “How” an awful lot.  OK, I’ll give you that one.

But, overall, Goscinny and Uderzo treat the Native Americans no worse than they treat the Corsicans. Or the Germans.  The Swiss.  The Vikings.  Or even the Italians. It’s a collection of traits and funny stylized looks. That’s all grist for the Asterix mill, and to suddenly cry foul when it hits closer to home would be to deny the very thing that makes this series so funny and memorable. It’s Goscinny picking at culture and referencing as many of their well-known things as possible.

He doesn’t treat the Native Americans negatively, like some lesser class of people who need to be conquered or who are inherently bad.  In fact, they become quite friendly with Asterix and Obelix and welcome them into their tribe.

Goscinny even avoids the funny speech patterns entirely.  The locals never even talk in front of Asterix and Obelix.  It’s all gestures and pantomime.  The argument against Goscinny here is that he’s portraying the Native Americans as being not developed enough yet to have a language, but that seems an assumption too far.

If anything, it feels like they’re smart enough to know the language barrier isn’t going to be fixed, so they don’t even bother trying to talk to them.  This book is entirely from the Gauls’ point of view.  We don’t see the natives except when the Gauls are around. When we do see them, it’s under a pretty limited scope — there’s a short dinner (with two lines of dialogue), there’s a celebration with dance, and there’s a hunt.

I also read somewhere that this characterization is racist because it portrays the Native Americans as a violent people.  But that writer had no problem with the Vikings later in the book planning on killing Asterix and Obelix after dinner? Even better, the plan is to “sacrifice them to the gods.”  The Vikings also threaten to chop their Gallic slave in half for telling the truth they don’t want to hear.  Nope, nothing stereotypical or violent about that

There is one criticism that says Goscinny portrays the Native Americans a a primitive war-like people because there’s an early panel where they’re watching Asterix and Obelix from the shadows.  If anything, I’d give them credit for doing research on the new people before engaging with them.

If anything, the Native Americans in this book are one of the rare group of people smart enough to attack Asterix from afar and from behind to beat him.  (They hit him over the head with a thrown weapon.)  Everyone else tries, at best, to go at him with a sword or shield. They stand no chance against the magic potion in close quarters.

Goscinny and Uderzo’s portrayal of Native Americans in this book is far from nuanced or subtle.  It trades in stereotypes, some harsher than others.  If you’re reading this book with your kid, it’s worth having a conversation with them about it, but it won’t be as bad as the talk you have to have with them over the pirates or the African slaves in Egypt.

Most importantly, this is far from “Tintin in the Congo.”

Part of me wonders what “Oumpah-Pah” was like.  I’ve never read it.  It’s the series Uderzo and Goscinny set aside to focus on Asterix, starring a Native American man.  Would that shed more light on their understanding of Native Americans in a positive or negative direction?  I don’t know.  Maybe that’s the research I need to do to better judge this situation…

I read a lot of “Is Asterix Racist?” articles, slide shows, and opinion pieces for this.  It’s very possible that they’re all just weak bits of writing that do a poor job explaining why this book is bad.  Some clearly don’t understand Asterix or humor at all. One even complained about anachronisms in the stories.  Those are features, not bugs.

I’ll be listening in the comments, if anyone wants to make a better case.

Fact Checks

Yes, Native Americans were there in 50 BC.  In fact, they probably had been on the land for at least 10,0000 years already at that point.

Yes, some had dogs.

And, yes, some ate dogs. (In the context of this book, though, it’s more likely they’re serving hot dogs, a true American cuisine.)

The chief gives his daughter away to Obelix

Arranged marriages were not unheard of in Native American tribes.

They did use tomahawks a lot, for more than just weapons of war or hunt, though.  In this book, a trade of spears/swords represents the welcoming of the Gauls into the tribe. They used their tomahawks for that purpose, too.

If you see a gag in this book and instantly think Goscinny or Uderzo was propagating horrid cliches and nonsense, I don’t think they were.  They picked and chose their gags without worrying about balance.  We see that in every book with every people.

Did the Art Get Better?

I had some issues with the art in the last volume.  It looked different.  It felt simpler in some ways.  While still better than 95% of all comic books ever, it felt a little lighter than usual.

The question must be asked then: Is “Asterix and the Great Crossing” a return to Uderzo’s usual form?

I’m trying to figure out if I’ve become used to the lesser style of art, or if, yeah, it’s better.  It does feel like characters are a little larger in the panels than they used to be, but I don’t see anything sticking out to me as being stylistic shortcuts or oversimplifications.  There are a couple cases where an extreme closeup is so tight that the character’s head doesn’t fit inside the panel.  And some random bits break panel borders for no decent reason. But those are both nit-picks.

Let’s put it this way: The art in this book is an improvement from the last one, and that’s the opposite of what I wrote about last week.

A feast in Denmark

In fact, there are a lot of group scenes in this book that look well drawn and well staged.  The groups of Native Americans that welcome Asterix and Obelix to their camp and run around with them are all shown on panel.  Some silhouette shots of the background are included on purpose to draw your attention to the foreground during near-silent scenes.

I can’t complain.  I probably wouldn’t even be mentioning anything here if it hadn’t been for that last book.  Uderzo’s back to form in “Asterix and the Great Crossing,” and that’s a good thing.

Artistic “Cheats”

Having said all that, I do have to recognize two things in this book that are the ultimately “cheats,” but that make sense in the context of the book.

The Viking ship is lost in the fog and, oh, is that an iceberg over there?

The first is that Goscinny/Uderzo have a couple pages in this book of blank panels.  All of the action takes place under heavy fog where visibility is zero.  All the panels are white with word balloons popping out.

In other words, Uderzo beat John Byrne to that “Snowblind” issue of “Alpha Flight” by a decade.  I wonder if Uderzo was any inspiration for Byrne…

There’s another page that takes place at night that’s all black panels. Again, it’s used as part of the joke that they can’t see anything, so it’s not completely cheating. It’s definitely a deadline helper, though.

Asterix and Obelix explain who they are in pantomime

The second “cheat” is that one entire page-long gag gets repeated.  Asterix and Obelix attempt to explain who they are to the Native Americans through pantomime.  Later, those exact panels are reprinted, sans the word balloons, for when they explain themselves to the Danes.  It’s funny to see it all over again, so it worked for me.

Random Facts Gleaned from the Web

From the Wikipedia entry for this book:

In the original French version, on page 32, Obelix claims he learned a thing or two while he was at the prairie and uses the word “yep!”. This is a reference to westerns, and incidentally to Franco-Belgian comics series Lucky Luke, also written by René Goscinny at the time, set in the American Old West, and whose titular character frequently used the expression.

Instead, we get a “home of the range” gag, which is still funny.  It’s no Lucky Luke reference, though.

TV Tropes points this out:

 In the Icelandic translation of this album, rather than merely being an expy of him, Herendethelessen is Leif Eiriksson while Odiuscomparissen is his father, Eirik the Red. The other viking crew members are also given the names of notable Norse/Viking figures…

That translation also seems to move events from Denmark to Iceland, a land unsettled by any people at that time.  But, hey, it’s their translation. Let them have their fun with it, too.  We never worry about anachronisms in Asterix.  Rather, that’s a feature of Asterix. references a new set of names and dialogue bits under a second “American adaptation.”  My copy doesn’t have all of those, so I must have the English translation. The American one adds a bunch of references to make it obvious that the island this book is set on is Manhattan.

Best Name in the Book

The Vikings from Denmark get all the best names in this book.  They’re all great.  Two stand out.

Herendethelessen is on the left. That's his dog on the right.

First is Herendethelessen, who leads the ships into the foggy waters and winds up in the New World. He wins this book for me.

Odiuscomparissen from "Asterix and the Great Crossing"

A close second is that character’s boss, Odiuscomparissen.


Asterix and the Great Crossing cover by Albert Uderzo

Yes.  Maybe because I’m publishing this on July 4th and having Asterix arrive on America today seems to make everything right in the world.  But the book is better drawn than the last one. The gags are as good as ever, and I like the way Goscinny and Uderzo incorporated everything from the 50 stars in the flag to the Statue of Liberty.

There’s nothing mean-spirited in this book.  If you did this book today, I’m sure all the “natives” (meaning modern Americans) would be overweight and loud-mouthed or something.  (I’m sorry for our tourists, France.  I wish I could do something about them because it’s ruining it for me, too.)

The book plays things for laughs and doesn’t go in for sociopolitical commentary.  This really is mostly a book about a clash of three cultures and the language barriers that separate them.  There’s no good chance for Goscinny to fit in any messages about imperialistic American culture running roughshod over Gaul or anything like that.  Heck, they only spend about half of the book in America, anyway.

There’s a ton more in the book than I’ve mentioned in this review, like the now universal hand gesture for “These [name of people here] are crazy!”  Please fill in the blanks with your favorite bits in the comments below.

— 2018.063 —

Next Book!

Obelix doesn't have a clue what he's talking about

Goscinny takes on the advertising and marketing industries as Obelix becomes a big shot in the highly competitive and lucrative world of menhirs. Also, he wears really loud striped pants.

Obelix and Co” is next, and it’s a fun, wild ride!

What do YOU think? (First time commenters' posts may be held for moderation.)


  1. When I read this book for the fist time, I didn’t think twice about it, only that its tone is different from what we’ve seen before. I was a bit puzzled by how fast they get to cross the Atlantic; I’m not sure the Gulf Stream would actually work that way, but that’s a very minor quibble. In retrospect, having been made aware of the previous Goscinny/Uderzo partnership on Oumpah-Pah, I imagined that it was a way for the both of them to reminisce a little bit. I have no idea if those two albums they produced before Asterix have ever been translated to english, but if they have, it’s well worth a read (and a review, hint hint). It would certainly be interesting to hear your insightful perspective on the art and story and how it compares to the first few volumes of our favourite Gaul (in my opinion they are superior, for some reason I can’t explain). Plus, being American, you’d bring an extra layer of perspective.
    Both those stories and this album are of course seen differently in 2018, the outrage machine out there in full force, on the prowl for objectionable material to be offended about. I remember those endless discussions about Mark Twain’s books not so long ago and I was left to wonder, some people have nothing better to do… Oh, well.

    1. I’ve got an English edition of Ompapa and the Pirates. IIRC, it was very short and only had about one scene. I thnink it’s pitched a lot younger than Asterix.

    2. Heh, yes, the speed at which they traveled from France to Manhattan was a bit crazy. It’s one of those things I let slide to get to the comedy. That said, it might make for a fun post to analyze the science behind such a trip and how fast it could be done.

      That said, maybe there was a magic portal in that fog and that’s how it happened! Sure, let’s go with that.

      I’m all for reading “Oumpah-Pah”, but it’s never been translated. No, wait, let me correct that: I think part of it was translated once decades ago and it never went anywhere. I read that somewhere, probably Wikipedia. There’s not much chance of finding it today, and an American edition would almost be impossible. I doubt any publisher would want to tackle the sensitivities issues there….

  2. In a case of life imitating art, I did once ask my local fish shop in a seaside town in southern England whether their catch was local, and they told me it all came from Scotland!
    I don’t think it’s a cheat that Getafix needs fish for the magic potion – he never mentions all the ingredients. Indeed, in ‘The Roman Agent’, he goes ballistic at the accusation that he may have given away its secrets.
    And what a great bit of drama that is when we hear the druid’s ‘No’ before it’s revealed who’s speaking.

    1. On another tangent: I once read a story about why it is that the states in the middle of America often get the biggest shrimp when they’re the furthest from water. Turns out, the larger shrimp travel better than the smaller ones, so they save those for the places where they have to travel the furthest. Makes sense.

      Good point on the ingredients, but I still think it’s terribly convenient. 😉

      1. Especially when there is another scene in The Roman Agent which clearly shows Unhygenix hauling a net of freshly caught fish through the village.
        By the way, why is the fishmonger the only Gaul who never wears shoes?

  3. I had a nice long review written in notes – and I took extra care to use the right accents and characters on the Viking names. Then three folders of notes disappeared and I had to restore my iPad to the previous backup to get them back. At the end of it all, the review was gone. I don’t know for sure that the special characters did it, but I’m not taking the risk.

    So now I retype it…

    This one is clearly one of the weakest books in the series so far. It’s almost entirely plotless, and Asterix and Obelix just bumble from scene to scene. On the bright side, it’s a very quick read, and that saves it from ever getting boring. I also did feel a bit for Herendethelessen.

    For me this gets 3.5/5, just above Asterix and the Banquet.

    For pun names, this book is great. Herendethelessen, Huntingseasen, Nogoodreassen, Haroldsilssen, Odiuscomparissen and Steptoanssen (if you didn’t get it, that’s a reference to an old sitcom called Steptoe and Son) are all great. I have to give it to Herendethelessen though.

    One glorious book to go and then it plummets.

    1. I don’t think it will be plummet. I’m bracing myself for a much, slower, crueler decent into terror. Some of the early post Goscinny books I have very fond memories of… we will see… but we will all be there together, to hold each other through these tough times… and heck we still have & Co to go so…

      1. I definitely have find memories of Asterix and Son and (to a lesser extent) Asterix and the Great Divide. It gets pretty thin after that though.

  4. Yeah I’m not 100% sure where I stand on this one. Its clearly not that great and has some major problems but I still really like it. Is it up there with the rest of the Golden Age… well no, but its miles ahead of the dip when it starts. It feels difficult now to relate this to the pre-golden age books as that feels so long ago now… but that’s where it belongs isn’t it.

    Basically the books primary problem has been addressed. There’s no real jeopardy. I mean there should be jeopardy, there should be oodles of jeopardy. After all our heroes are cast a drift, with no clear way home. Their village vitally needs fresh fish so Getafix can make the potion that keeps them safe… well okay that doesn’t feel like too much of a problem… but the being cast adrift does surely that’s going to be scary and our heores will be desperate to find some miracle to get them home…

    … well no the chaps seem to have a jolly nice time, meet some fascinating and funny characters and then jolly well bump into a taxi driv… sorry fellow Gaul fishermen, who has easy access to his boat and the whole thing just feels like a pleasent old jaunt.

    That said it is a pleasent old jaunt. Its really good fun. The folks they meet are in turns charming and funny. It adds a fresh tone to the series. The racial caricatures aren’t offensive, or anymore so than any others in the series. Yes the native Americans are presented in a lazy, cliched fashion, but that could be said for almost all nations visited and tongues are safely planted in cheeks, so no foul there for me.

    There are some great gags, its a very funny volume. There’s some glorious use of the pirates but, a sad lack of Romans. I’ve always remembered the mime Asterix and Obelix do to describe themselves and it forms a massive part of how I think of the characters – though in my head it has a nose to nose arguement in it and even now I can picture the panel… incorrectly.

    Oh and how cute are Dogmatix and Huntingseassen

    So I’ve looked back, past Legionary to see if I can find a story that I have a similar sense of about… and I failed. BUT I saw Normans and that felt right… its not as good as Spain, so that worked, but its cute and fun so

    9 out of 10

    As has been said this is awash with pun names Haraldwilssen almost gets it for being contemporary… when the book was written, or Steptoanssen for being so lost in translation out the UK but I just really like Huntingseassen so that’s my winner, but it could have been so many others.

  5. I hate the art in this one. Obelix looks like an obese buffoon instead of the (very) stocky cute character in the books with the best art, the expressions and bodily gestures are completely exaggerated in everyone, and the vikings’ angular look is not in keeping with the generally more round approach to characters –compare / contrast with the way the other men from the North, the Normans, are depicted, Totally different. The next book also has this weird art.
    And a lot of the best lines in French go missing in English, which is a shame…

    1. I can defeinitely see the start of the change in Uderzo’s style here towards the looser more dynamic art of his later books. Personally, I really like that change and I think that (while the writing suffers) his art improves all of the way and never really misses a beat right to the end.

      I’m guessing you probably like the new artist who’s taken it back towards the look of Uderzo’s earlier books.

    2. Ah, the old disappearing comments issue is back. Here we go again:

      This book is probably the start of Uderzo’s evolution to a looser more dynamic look which he kept with right to the end of his run. Much as the writing suffered, the art just got better and better for me.

      1. Oh no, it’s not the disappearing comments – it’s that other issue where new comments don’t show unless you do a ctrl+F5

    3. I love that we have strong opinions on this book. =) I took the Vikings’ look as just being a different kind of extreme, but then I thought some of the character designs in the last book looked flat and too angular, too. So maybe we’re seeing the same things, but I got used to it too quickly after last book’s debacle.

      The on-going evolution of Asterix and Obelix’s physical appearances is a fascinating thing to look back at. Maybe I’m too close to it at the moment to see it changing. I’ve said since the first book I would go back one day and put together a comparison of their various looks over the years. I need to start on that. I opened “Asterix the Gaul” the other day and was amazed at just how far we’ve come.

      I’ll be looking for it in the next book now, for sure…

      1. The best rendition of Obelix for me is the one you see on the back covers with the menhir. The first few books were about finding the right style, then they nailed it, and then the characters grew distorted. For me, this one’s the gold standard!

  6. One has to wonder why coscinny chose to have the vikings in the story come from Denmark, since it is (was) fairly well known that Icelander Leif Eriksson was the first known European to have discovered North America (and lose it again!). The book was published in Icelandic in 1977 and as mentioned in the (excellent) review the Danish references are avoided as possible in the Icelandic translation, giving the vikings the names of real life explorers Leif Erikson, Erik the Red (his father), Thorfinn karlsefni and Ari the Wise (all with their own wikipedia pages).

    1. I believe that around that time this album was published, Thor Heyerdahl made headlines with his Kon-tiki expedition and historians were also beginning to reassess Christopher Columbus real part in the discovery of America. I haven’t wikied any of it, this is just from memory since I’m away from home right now. My memory is notoriously unreliable so feel free to contradict if I erred somewhat.

    2. I would bet he just thought he had better jokes to go with the Danes. Any excuse to fit in a Shakespearian joke or two!

      (And thanks for the compliment. =)

    3. It’s not Asterix is historically accurate, but still it would have been quite impossible for Vikings come form Iceland before they were there. But like said it’s not like Vikings in Denmark were thing either but it’s not as a much of a ovious historical continuity error.

      1. I may have just found my own double standard. I call anachromisms a “feature” and not a bug in this review, but them I get annoyed at the way Uderzo uses Pompey in “Asterix and the Actress” in a way that doesn’t work in the timeline of Roman history at all.

        Or maybe it’s ok to have the anachromisms coming from outside the immediate vicinity of the Gallic and Roman histories, but not from within? Hmmmm…. I may need to think about this some more.

  7. It would have been a better solution imo if the Indians would have spoken accented English the way the Vikings did, that way they would have seen more equal to the the other groups. Now even if the portrayal isn’t malicious they are more joke characters than people with agency.

    Overall I always thought the parts with the natives were boring and the ones with the Vikings more interesting. I guess the issues with translations humor didn’t quite work for me and there wasn’t much of a plot.

    1. Agreed. Herendethelessen was a good character. I really felt for him, whereas the native Americans weren’t much more than props.

    2. You’re right that the Vikings section was funnier. It’s also possible that I was walking on eggshells, figuratively speaking, during the Native American parts so much that I didn’t let myself enjoy it as much as I should have. It’s pretty clean, though a couple of the jokes did feel slightly forced. It’s a good book, overall, though.

      An accented American accent might have been fun. I can almost picture the “A” looking like a teepee. 😉

  8. Nitpick first:”Later, those exact panels are reprinted, sans the word balloons, for when they explain themselves to the Dutch. It’s funny to see it all over again, so it worked for me.” -> Should be “Danes” instead of “Dutch”.
    The whole discussion on whether the Vikings should have come from Iceland or denmark is beside the point, because there were no Vikings in 50 BC – the Viking period begins at the end of the 8th century AD. And the Danes migrated to Denmark only during the Great Migration period, before that Denmark was settled by different Germanic tribes. In any case, as you say, anachronism is a feature, not a bug.
    Oumpa-Pah was translated into German and I remember reading two volumes – I don’t know if there were more. Oumpa-Pah’s tribe is mostly characterised positively, except for one xenophobic old man (what is it with Gocinny & Uderzo and xenophobic old men?). Oumpa-Pah is mostly the noble savage, who by contrast or by asking curious questions shows up the follies of the civilised Europeans (French). Still, even such a portrayal of Native Americans may rub some people the wrong way these days.

    1. Thanks for pointing it out — I went ahead and fixed the Danes/Dutch mix-up.

      I’d still love to read Oumpa-Pah someday. It might wind up having to be in French, in which case I’ll need a little more time in my studies there. And, yes, sadly, it almost doesn’t matter how well-intentioned or how, indeed, honorable and positive an exploration of a Native character he may be, someone will still protest. It’s not worth the hassle for any publisher, unfortunately.

  9. I’m very very late to the party but have discovered this site and loving it! In the light of Uderzo’s recent sad loss I’ve been doing a deep dive and reading deep cuts.

    I read Ompa-pa for the first time yesterday. Seems an English translation was done in the mid 70s by Nicholas someone. They are all on I found them pretty enjoyable taking the social context of the time into account. The stories are less satirical and lean more towards traditional action adventure plots with added humour. There are 5 albums and they actually loosely tie together into a continuous serial which I wasn’t expecting.

    The native americans as characters are done better than in Great Crossing. They are loosely the equivalent of the villagers in Asterix, with individual personalities and are largely portrayed as down to earth with certain eccentricities. The French soldiers are portrayed more like a benign version of the Romans in Asterix – supposedly civilised but with rituals and customs sillier than the native Americans (the French and Prussian generals being excessively polite before attacking each other is the funniest example of this)

    Very very loosely Ompa-pa takes the Asterix character of sensible and cunning with Obelix’s physical build and strength. His French soldier side-kick is less wily but brave in a stupid way and so I suppose is broadly a bit like Obelix’s role as the comic relief. The level of stereotyping of cultures I would say is no better or worse than Asterix (although I am a Brit so there’s maybe more cultural sensitivity of native americans that I’m not aware of – I really doubt it though).

    Interestingly perhaps the art is vastly superior to early Asterix in my opinion, the ships are incredibly well drawn. I can see why they decided to focus on Asterix, I don’t think this series would have had as much mileage and the script doesn’t have any of the anachronistic humour, puns or sense of anarchy in general that you find in Asterix (maybe due to the translation?) . But if you’re an Asterix fan it’s definitely worth a look if only as a curio!

    Sorry for rambling on, just thought I’d share. There’s virtually nothing on the strip online. Would be interested to see if a French reader had a different take