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The Maastricht Diplomat

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The Sky Fell on his Head

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

Charlotte Pion – ‘’The year is 50 BC. Gaul is entirely occupied by the Romans. Well, not entirely… One small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the invaders. And life is not easy for the Roman legionaries who garrison the fortified camps of Totorum, Aquarium, Laudanum and Compendium…’’

I think we all know these few sentences which always announced the beginning of a new adventure of Asterix, Obelix and their companions from Gaul.

The reason why I’m talking about the shrewd little warrior and his (big) touchy but sweet-hearted friend his Sunday, is because this week their second father passed away at the age of 92. The adventures of Asterix and Obelix were written by René Goscinny and drawn by Albert Uderzo, before being passed on to Ferri and Conrad in 2013. This Tuesday, the illustrator finally joined his old friend in The Mansion of the Gods to share some wild boar and mead again.

I have to admit that when I heard the news, a part of my childhood waved at this comic-strips legend and I couldn’t ignore my emotion. Asterix and Obelix animated my child games, they made me dream about Egypt and the noseless Sphinx, about travels around Gaul or nights locked up in a safe with swiss cheese… And I acknowledge that I always wondered how the magic potion tasted.

What made the charm of Asterix and Obelix’s adventures under the pen of Goscinny and Uderzo is that they created heroes so different from the usual stereotypical protagonist. Their stories were not only meant for children. The albums are full of word games and funny Roman names, but also parodies the contemporary French  society through all the stereotypes and customs of the regions and foreign lands that the two companions visit, which make their adventures as funny for children as for grownups.

We can easily say that the pair of Goscinny and Uderzo fascinated several generations with their 24 albums (at least in France and Belgium). When Goscinny died in 1977, it took several years for Uderzo to pick up his brush again and continue the adventures of the two Gauls.

However, Asterix and Obelix are not the only works of Uderzo, who was a very talented illustrator and had a exceptional knowledge of human anatomy. His drawings of the adventures of Tanguy et Laverdure, a serie retracing the exploits of two pilots, or the hectic stories of the couple Benjamin and Benjamine showed how his techniques were diversified.

He will leave a trace in the world of comics, drawing smiles on everyone who reads his adventures, would it be in Belgium where I am diving into them again, in the entirety Gaul, along the Maas and the Mare Nostrum, but also all around the world. Bon Voyage Môssieur Uderzo!

Fun facts:

  1. 14 litres of Indian ink, 30 brushes, 62 soft lead pencils, 1 hard lead pencil, 27 erasers, 38 kilos of paper, 16 typewriter ribbons, 2 typewriter s and 67 litres of beer were necessary to create the album of Asterix and Cleopatra… probably the biggest adventure ever drawn?

  2. The adventures of Asterix and Obelix are the most translated comic-strips (111 languages) and sold 380 million copies from 1958 to 2019.

P.S in these troubled times, know that Asterix and Obelix defeated Coronavirus!

Pictures of the Astrix and Obelix comics were made by the writer, Charlotte Pion


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