Asterix the Gaul by René Goscinny

details
Title: Asterix the Gaul.
Series: Asterix.
Volume: 1.
Writer(s): René Goscinny.
Illustrator(s): Albert Uderzo.
Publisher: Hachette.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: February 5th, 2013 (First published 1961).
Pages: 48.
Genre(s): Comics, Historical Fiction.
ISBN13: 9782012101333.
My Overall Rating: 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

thoughts

Considered within the Franco-Belge world as one of the most important and iconic comic book series ever created, Asterix has garnered the attention of millions since its release in the 1960s. Growing up, the characters and their stories were often cited by adults, often within a humouristic context, especially with the silly yet memorable life lessons that the series had to offer. Despite the passing of René Goscinny in 1977 and Albert Uderzo in 2020, the Asterix franchise continues to grow, with stories now being published by the latest creative team led by writer Jean-Yves Ferri and artist Didier Conrad.

What is Asterix the Gaul about? In the year 50 B.C., the Gaul area is under Roman control except for a little village called Armorica (Armorique). It is in this village that the druid Getafix (Panoramix) creates a very special potion that turns anyone invincible, especially the little yet imposing Asterix (Astérix). Refusing defeat and desperately seeking ways to overthrow this Gaul village, Centurion Crismus Bonus (Caius Bonus) sends a spy disguised as a Gaul to find answers. Once he discovers the existence of the mysterious magic potion, a plan is put forth and Centurion Crismus Bonus will do anything to get his hands on the recipe that might in fact allow him to rule over Ceasar (César).

“Cette potion… a sûrement… quelque chose de magique!”

— René Goscinny

Within this first volume, short in itself, writer René Goscinny introduces his core cast and their peculiar traits right from the get-go. With the dynamic duo, Asterix and Obelix, readers will promptly understand that Romans will have a tough time getting what they want, and so, as long as their druid Getafix continues to concoct his magic potion for their village of Gauls, making them unstoppable. This first story also clearly establishes the tone of the franchise through its quirky characters and the humouristic banter that invades the narrative. Mockery and insults are often common practice within this world as bad guys suffer at the hands of the good guys, with Gauls who simply make a fool out of Romans more often than not. Wordplays and puns are also key to this volume’s success, so effortlessly written into the dialogues.

Albert Uderzo’s artwork is also fantastic and deserves just as much love and praise as his partner’s writing. The character designs are wonderful and memorable, expressive and poignant from one panel to another. While sticking to a traditional panel structure, there’s also an impressive grasp on movement and expression within the artwork. The colours are also incredibly vivid, conveniently giving the story life and energy at a single glance of the pages. Where this first volume mostly suffers is thus not within its artistic direction but in its narrative. While it is amusing to watch Romans struggle while Gauls play around with their enemy’s silliness, the pacing isn’t perfect and the humour isn’t groundbreaking. However, this first adventure allows readers to get acquainted with these characters and that’s where the fun is all at.

Asterix the Gaul is an entertaining adventure introducing the protagonist and his friends while ridiculizing their Roman enemies and their desperate desire for the druid’s powerful magic potion.


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28 thoughts on “Asterix the Gaul by René Goscinny

      1. Thanks for that.
        See, in 2004 the Asterix books were re-released and some new translators were used. The old books had him as Magigimix (or something like that) and in the new ones, he’s now called Getafix. Never had access to the originals, so had zero idea what he was actually called.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s a bit sad to see how the name changes take away a bit of the fun originally intentioned in naming all these characters in a certain way. Then again, nothing much you can really do about it hahah Panoramix sort of references how he’s the “all-seeing” with his “panoramic” view of life. Getafix makes me think he’s a drug dealer, which isn’t too wrong to conclude either hahahah

        Liked by 1 person

  1. These books are fun! I remember the films from when I was a child, just like the Tin Tin ones as well. My husband used to read them to my son when he was very young. I’d hearing the different voices and of course all thise silly names and puns! 😀 Is this the first time you’ve read them Lashaan?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tintin is another one that I plan to properly read from A-Z! I love that your husband used to read this to your son. I can see myself doing the same in the near future. 😉 It is indeed the first time I’m really reading them. Growing up, I’ve only seen extracts of it, or movie clips, or just older folks talking about it. Now I’ll know what they were all referring to exactly! 😀

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  2. Comic books were the way of life for young people in the 1960s and 70’s . Then came the completion… video games. I see should also add that the popularity changed from comics to sci fi.

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  3. I haven’t read any of the modern Asterix comics, but they were a huge part of my childhood growing up. I had figurines, movies, a video game and, of course, some of the comics. Happy to see you enjoyed this one.

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  4. I have not heard of this comic book series, but I am a lot older than all of you. Interesting that the name changed when they were translated from French to English. Great review Lashaan. The cover reminds me of Popeye for some reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, it’s funny to discover the different names used in English. Wordplays are still funny in some way. I’m so surprised that you haven’t heard of this franchise though, Carla! 😮 However, I definitely know of Popeye though! I wonder if I can track down some of the original comics before it became animated. Thanks for reading, Carla!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Did your trip to Belgium inspire this read? 😁 Also, was it your first time reading the series? I remember growing up with those (we also had the Asterix game on the Playstation 1)! I find it very interesting how they translated the names in English too! It was very refreshing to read your review on them, especially if you’ve nevere read them before! A whole new world opens before you ahah

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    1. Honestly, I had bought the first two volumes a couple of months before, wanting to finally properly collect and read them, and when Belgium became the first country I was going to visit this summer, I thought it would be a great opportunity to read it right before leaving! 😛 Funnily, I felt like a lot of comic book shops there didn’t worship Asterix as much as other titles for some reason hahaha And yes, I actually never really read them growing up (no one really told me to and, with that freedom of choice, I was more inclined towards science-fiction and fantasy stuff than historical stuff hahah).

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      1. Hahah that makes a lot of sense! I think maybe they don’t worship it as much because it’s not 100% Belgian (I think?) or maybe because they don’t really need the publicity 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  6. They are so famous here! But do remember when reading these that they were created when I was a kid so more than 40 years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember enjoying these as a kid when we lived in Germany. At that age I think I was most drawn to the artwork and the crazy scenes. Great to see it’s still going.

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