Thursday, 28 September 2017

Asterix and the Banquet by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo - volume 5

Even before opening the fifth Asterix album this loses some of the joke in both translation and colouring. The original French title is Le Tour de Gaule d'Astérix and the German translation makes the joke even more specific "Tour de France". However, the English translation shifts the emphasis away from the journey to the end goal. Also undermining the joke is the colour of the shopping bag. Originally this was yellow with a patch, to mimic the lead cyclist's jersey, but the cover and now the modern interior colour have instead rendered it green. Although the colouring may be an error that was "corrected" in the wrong direction, the overall result is that the title and cover of this album now downplays somewhat fact that this is an exploration of France in all its glory. Perhaps this is also why it was one of the last of the original twenty-four Asterix albums to be translated into English. This placing, along with some of the cover croppings used over the years, has also disguised the introduction of one of the most beloved of all the characters in the series.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Asterix the Gladiator by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo - volume 4

The fourth Asterix album shows the series still developing and adding concepts, whilst also upping the humour levels. For the first time in the run so far a story's plot does not revolve around a threat to the village's supply of magic potion. Instead the victim this time is the bard Cacofonix, captured to be presented to Julius Caesar as a mere gift. This results in Asterix and Obelix heading off to Rome to rescue him.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Asterix and the Goths by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo - volume 3

With the third album, the Asterix adventures now step outside of Gaul for the first time, taking our heroes into neighbouring Germania. Goths have appeared in both the previous adventures but now we get to see a full depiction of the neighbouring country. It's another sign that this is a series determined to show the full range of its scope fairly early on and not confine itself merely to the relations between the Gauls and the occupying Romans.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Asterix and the Golden Sickle by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo - volume 2

The second Asterix album shows a boldness to the series in rapidly taking the main character away from the village and thus demonstrating early on that this is a series with a much broader scope than merely events in the village itself and the besieging camps. Instead much of the story is set in and around Lutetia, the ancient incarnation of the city of Paris.

In the current English translation, at least, the city isn't so obviously flagged as Paris. No footnotes identify it as such and many non-French readers may not immediately recognise the city on the river when it first appears. References to stereotypes of Parisians are also not so obviously on display to a non-French audience, whilst the city's iconic architecture is obviously too anachronistic to appear here. Only a reference to going down an underground tunnel as "take the subway" and a comment by a fisherman that all he catches are amphoras discarded by wine drinkers really reference the modern-day city. As a result, this could really be any city under Roman occupation