Thursday, 30 November 2017

Asterix in Spain by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo - volume 14

The fourteenth Asterix adventure is quite a curious tale. It sees our heroes visit another of France's neighbouring countries but it's surprising that it's taken the series this long to look towards such a significant neighbour. Equally curious is the length of time it takes the story to get Asterix and Obelix to Hispania (Spain) despite a journey that takes barely six pages to reach the border. It all suggests an adventure thrown together in a hurry or to meet some external requirement.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Asterix and the Cauldron by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo - volume 13

Appropriately for the day after Budget Day we come to a story with a bit to say about taxation. The thirteenth of the Asterix adventures resorts to the well-worn trope of the hero being wrongly convicted for a crime he didn't convict and sent into exile to redeem his honour. In the process he's forced to turn his hand to making money, resulting in a mild satire on commerce and finance.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Asterix at the Olympic Games by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo - volume 12

It should come as little surprise that Asterix's participation in the Olympic Games was originally printed to coincide with the real-world games, in this case the 1968 games held in Mexico City. The English translation followed four years later, coinciding with the 1972 games at Munich. (And the live action film adaptation's release coincided with the 2008 games in Beijing.) Once again, the series taps into contemporary culture and projects it back onto the ancient world, albeit with invariable anachronisms. In the real world there were no games in 50 BC - the nearest were in 52 BC and 48 BC - and it seems that the Gauls never took part in the ancient Olympics. But Asterix discovers a vital technicality...

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Asterix and the Chieftain's Shield by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo - volume 11

The Asterix adventures as a whole have a tinge of French nationalism, celebrating heroes who have resisted the invasion of their country and triumphing against the odds just a generation after the Second World War. But to date none of the stories has been so directly rooted in national myth history as Asterix and the Chieftain's Shield, the eleventh adventure in the series. It shows how both the Romans and Gauls seek to harness the history of past battles for present day propaganda advantages, with the added complication of a quest to find the titular shield.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Asterix the Legionary by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo - volume 10

Once again the Asterix adventures are parodying a cultural wave of the time and adapting their world in order to do so. This story was originally serialised in 1966, the year of a big budget adaptation of Beau Geste, beating the Carry On film Follow That Camel to satirise the French Foreign Legion by a year. But in order to translate this to a military adventure in ancient North Africa, the series once again takes some liberties with history in order to present a version of the Civil War, and specifically the Battle of Thapsus, slightly earlier than they actually happened.