Rising Star

Last year, a new Asterix volume was released, the first one by a new writer and illustrator – Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad.

A return to form means to go back to something’s original, better state.

Their first offering, Asterix and the Picts, sees Asterix return to the British Isles, though further north to the place that would become modern day Scotland. After the disappointment of Asterix and the Falling Sky with its unconvincing blend of sci-fi and aliens, the new book is seen very much as a return to form. Asterix and Obelix go with a Pict warrior MacAroon – as in macaroon – back to Scotland. So the puns, which are so important to the comic’s humour, are still there.

The puns on the names have always been part of the appeal for me. I think you can tell from some of our article titles that we like word play at The Word. Take the druid’s name. In the original French he is Panoramix – from panoramic, a wide view. This name certainly captures his wise demeanour, but in English he is Getafix – as in get a fix, a reference to the potions he makes. The name describes him and makes fun of him. It is a good example of how the humour has been kept by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge.

Ms Bell, who is a respected translator of more serious literary works, began translating Asterix with the late Professor Hockridge in 1969. Bell’s translations have been praised for staying true to the original spirit of the comic and for their creativity.

If something is universal, it applies to everything, or anyone can understand it.

There is also a lot of humour based on national stereotyping; a mainstay of Asterix comics. The stereotyping in the comics is sometimes funny, sometimes not. The jokes about the Romans or Asterix’s village worked because in a way they were universal. The Romans could be any invader. Envy, respect and misunderstanding can all be applied to neighbours. Of course the jokes worked better with certain nations – Britain (polite, punctual but with terrible food) and the Belgians (fearsome, tough and divided between two leaders) than the Spanish (proud and macho) or the Goths – who were dour hairy armed representations of Germans.

Asterix will probably always remain a niche market in the English speaking world. It is a work for people who prefer a more cheerful take on story-telling and those who enjoy the humour found in words.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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Last year, a new Asterix book was released. It is the first one by a new writer and illustrator – Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad.

A return to form means to go back to something’s original, better state.

In this book, Asterix and the Picts, Asterix goes to a place that today is Scotland. After the disappointment of Asterix and the Falling Sky with its unsuccessful blend of sci-fi and aliens, the new book is seen very much as a return to form. Asterix and Obelix go with a Pict warrior MacAroon – as in macaroon – back to Scotland. The puns, which are so important to the comic’s humour, are still there.

The puns on the names have always been one reason I like Asterix. Look at the druid’s name. In the original French he is Panoramix – from panoramic, a wide view. This name describes his wise demeanour. But in English he is Getafix – as in get a fix, a reference to the potions he makes. The name describes him and makes fun of him. It is a good example of how the humour has been kept by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge.

Ms Bell, who is a respected translator of more serious literary works, began translating Asterix with the late Professor Hockridge in 1969. Bell’s translations have been praised for staying true to the original spirit of the comic and for their creativity.

Asterix will probably always be enjoyed by a small group of people in the English speaking world. It is a work for people who like a more cheerful take on story-telling and those who enjoy the humour found in words.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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Last year, the first Asterix volume in eight years was released. The book had a notable difference to previous stories. For the first time the story was not written by Albert Uderzo, who took over from René Goscinny when Goscinny passed away in 1977. The new pair in charge of the Asterix legacy is the writer Jean-Yves Ferri and illustrator Didier Conrad.

A return to form means to go back to something’s original, better state.

Their first offering, Asterix and the Picts, sees Asterix return to the British Isles, though further north this time to the place that would become modern day Scotland. After the disappointment of Asterix and the Falling Sky with its unconvincing blend of sci-fi and aliens, which many saw as racist depictions of Japanese people, the new book is seen very much as a return to form. Asterix and Obelix escort a Pict warrior MacAroon – as in macaroon – back to Scotland. So the puns, which are so central to the comic’s humour, remain intact. MacAroon’s beloved is Camomilla – a portmanteau of Camilla and camomile. Like much of the humour in Asterix, the joke comes from the real-life reference and the silliness of the name.

As to be expected, the story includes a lot of humour based on national stereotyping; a mainstay of Asterix comics. In this story we see caber-tossing – a traditional Scottish sport which requires people to throw a large pole – and people in kilts drinking whisky along with references to the Scottish independence movement. Given the nature of the humour – puns and stereotypes – it is hard to think that Asterix would have a place in today’s more ‘sophisticated’ world.

To be honest, the puns on the names have always been part of the appeal for me. I think you can tell from some of our article titles that we like word play at The Word. Take the druid’s name. In the original French he is Panoramix – from panoramic, a wide view. This name certainly captures his wise demeanour, but in English he is Getafix – as in get a fix, a reference to the potions he makes.  The name is at once descriptive and slightly mocking and a good example of how the humour has been preserved in the able hands of Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge.

Ms Bell, who is a respected translator of more serious literary works, began translating Asterix with the late Professor Hockridge in 1969. Bell’s translations have been praised for their fidelity; to the original spirit of the comic and for their creativity. Apart from renaming Getafix, she also changed Obelix’s dog’s name from Ideefix to Dogmatix. In an interview with The Guardian however, Ms Bell claimed that Getafix’s name had nothing to do with drugs. It referred to ‘getting a fix on the stars’.

Bring into the fold: To make a part of a larger entity, to absorb

The stereotyping in the comics is more hit-and-miss. The jokes about the Romans or Asterix’s village worked because in a way they were quite universal. The Romans easily stood in for any invader / hierarchical organization. You could laugh at the unfortunate legionaries tasked with the unenviable job of bringing the village into the fold. If anything, they represented the centrist tendencies of the French government. In this sense the depiction of certain regions could be seen as a celebration of diversity. That this celebration included a certain amount of teasing is a deeply European sensibility. Envy, respect and misunderstanding can all be applied to neighbours. Of course the jokes worked better with certain nations – Britain (polite, punctual but with terrible food) and the Belgians (fearsome, tough and divided between two leaders) than the Spanish (proud and macho) or the Goths – who were dour hairy armed representations of Germans. Though, as many have pointed out, the comic also satirizes unpalatable historical truths about the French – namely war-time collaboration.

Asterix will probably always remain a niche market in the English speaking world. It is definitely a work for people who prefer a more light-hearted take on story-telling and those who delight in the humour found in words.

Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia

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