A review copy of the second story in this Omnibus, Asterix and the Banquet, was provided for review by NetGalley.
by René Goscinny (Author), Albert Uderzo (Illustrator). Published by Papercutz
For those that aren’t aware, Asterix is no where near as popular in America as he is in Europe. In fact, I’m in my forties and this is the first Asterix story I’ve ever read. As a life long comic book geek I’m aware of him but I would be willing to bet 95% of the country has never heard of him. Which is a shame. This was an eye opener to some of the best comic work I’ve ever read. While American readers have become familiar with British writers and 2000 AD the rest of the continent hasn’t grabbed hold across the pond. There is also an American issue of “comics are for kids”. On the one hand many dark and gritty stories have been told since the 1980’s to change that idea in the general culture. But there has also been a counter side accepting some comics are for kids but they are worth just as much acclaim. The same voices who spoke up to give respect to Carl Barks’s work on Uncle Scrooge should also get Asterix in front of our eyes.
This story was originally published in serial form in 1963. I can’t believe there are so many stories, selling millions of copies, an icon, and no footprint in the United States. What more is out there in the world for us to “discover”?
Asterix and Obelix are part of a Gaul village that will not bow to Roman rule. They constantly frustrate Roman leaders and have adventures at home and across the world of 50 BC. In this tale, Inspector General Overanxius has a stockade built surrounding the village to contain them and prevent their rebellious ways from spreading to the rest of Gaul. Asterix says no barrier can contain him and bets Overanxius that he and Obelix can go on a tour of Gaul, collect a culinary delicacy from each region, and safely return for a banquet. Overanxius agrees to raise the stockade if Asterix and Obelix are successful. And from there the fun starts.
This was loads of fun too. I loved every bit of this comic and will now be seeking out all 38 (so far) Asterix stories. Plus the movies, and if I find some toys I’ll go nuts. For some reason the tales of Asterix and Obelix reminded me of another cartoonish warrior. Groo. But a much smarter version of Groo. Adventures and misadventures, strength, rolling with what life throws at them. It would not surprise me if Sergio Aragnoes also enjoyed Asterix and some of that filtered into his Groo comics.
There’s humor, adventure, history, politics, and so much more here. This is a newer American translation for Papercutz and I’m sure some things don’t translate perfectly but that’s like arguing whether a 6 foot 11 person is or isn’t 7 feet tall. At that point it’s close enough and we’re debating something that’s overall unimportant to the greater work. And the greater work is that this country is sleeping on Asterix. One story and I’m convinced this is a treasure trove of new to us material. Hopefully these new volumes will help push these characters into American pop culture.
Highly recommended book.