Hari's Reviews

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Asterix and Obelix - What makes them special

Created: Sat Mar 20 16:51:34 2010 | Last modified: Sat Mar 20 16:51:34 2010

Rating: **********

Asterix and Obelix

I have read most of the albums in the Asterix series and what I find most fascinating is that the creators have taken so much pains to make it really unique and suitable for every age from five to a hundred.

The Asterix books feature the Gaulish village which defies the Roman rule and continue to mock at Julius Caesar and his mighty legions. The year is 50 B.C. What is most interesting is that these wonderful stories are actually based on historical events and some of the characters involved are straight out of history. The fiction element by itself is pretty strong, but what is most fascinating is the way in which Goscinny and Uderzo have interweaved fantasy with history and created a wonderful series that not only entertain but educate as well.

Illustration is the strongest point of these albums. The talent of Uderzo really shines in the way each and every frame is given so much effort. Each character is unique and even the Romans are captured in great detail. Every single emotion is expressed, every facial feature is given importance. Even Dogmatix (Obelix's canine friend) is treated on par with the more important characters. What is really great is the wonderful consistency of the illustrations. It is hard to find a single frame where an obvious mistake is visible. Except in Asterix the Gaul, which is the first ever book in the series, the characters do not change at all in appearance or character throughout.

Which brings me to the storylines. These albums feature humourous storylines and the crazy adventures of the two main characters, Asterix and Obelix. While I have not read the originals, the English translation by Derek Hockridge and Anthea Bell are simply wonderful. Their usage of subtle humour and irony are simply too good to miss. While children can laugh at the slapstick elements, the adults too can enjoy a great deal of laughter at the subtle irony and humour. In particular, the names used are quite funny and carry some ironic meaning: you have Roman officers with names like Cumulonimbus, Varius Flavus, Bogus Genius, Gymnasticappartus and the like. Gaulish names are no less funny. There is even a system of naming: Roman names generally end with the letters us while Gaulish names end with ix. Female names end with a. And in most cases you will find that the names chosen are appropriate for a particular character.

All in all, a wonderful series of albums to collect. Though expensive, these books are worth it. Recently several of the older titles have come back into print. I'm looking forward to enlarging my collection! Rate them 5/5 because they are simply too good. And full marks to the translators who have done such a great job in making these titles available to a large audience all around the world.

Asterix links:

http://www.asterix.tm.fr/english/ (official site)