News

    France's Cartoon Hero Astérix Celebrates 50th Anniversary

    France's Cartoon Hero Astérix Celebrates 50th Anniversary
    France's Cartoon Hero Astérix Celebrates 50th Anniversary

    Multimedia

    Audio

    <!-- IMAGE -->

    France is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Astérix, the comic book character whose adventures find him battling the armies of Julius Caesar with his Gallic buddies in Brittany more than 2,000 years ago.  Since Astérix made his debut in 1959, he has starred in three movies and 34 books, and has fans worldwide.  From Paris, Lisa Bryant takes a look at what makes France's cartoon mascot so beloved.

    Astérix is not your typical hero.  He is not tall or handsome, and he is certainly not a prince.  But along with his sidekicks, enormous, goofy Obelix and dog Idéfix, Astérix wages battle against the ancient Romans to defend the Gaullish way of life.

    Astérix comic books and cartoon strips have been published in 107 languages and dialects.  Three Astérix movies have drawn millions of viewers.  The French version of the latest Astérix book, The Birthday of Astérix and Obelix, was launched Thursday.

    Nobody could be more surprised about Astérix's stunning success than the original illustrator of Astérix, Albert Uderzo, who has also authored the series since the death of the original writer, Rene Goscinny.

    Uderzo told French radio that Astérix was born when the owner of a French magazine called Pilote wanted a comic strip his kids could read that represented French culture.  The creators settled on Gaulles as their characters, because he said, nothing is more French than the Gaulles.

    Astérix' half-century birthday is being celebrated around France with special exhibits and other commemorations.  

    In the Paris suburb of Bobigny, a plaque was unveiled honoring his 1959 birth there.  Several villages in Brittany, the part of ancient Gaulle never conquered by the Romans, are also claiming to have inspired the Astérix series.

    Many see Astérix as the ultimate symbol of France and the battle of many French to preserve their culture and way of life.

    But Astérix has fans worldwide, including Brian Spence, the Canadian owner of The Abbey Bookshop in Paris.  

    Spence has a copy of every Astérix book in his English language book store.  He says they remain in demand.  Spence started reading Astérix when he was young.

    "I am still a fan.  I have not kept up with the latest ones, to tell you the truth," he said.  "But sure, I went to see the premiere of Astérix and Cleopatra when it was at the Grand Rex [movie theatre], almost 30,000 people there just to laugh along.  There is a very special place in my heart for Astérix."

    So what is Astérix' appeal, 50 years later?

    "Maybe we identify with the imperial pretensions," he explained.  "Manifest destiny, and so forth.  And I think most of the world probably feels it is in the same situation as Astérix and his village Gaullois in that we can identify with that sense of wanting to hold out and resist against the encroaching powers.  That sense of using your wits and a little bit of brawn to get out of peril, danger or any kind of threat."

    And besides, Spence says, there is always a bit of exoticism, because Astérix is French.  That makes fans want to keep on reading, to get a better understanding of what Astérix, and France, is all about.
     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora