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Asterix

Asterix or The Adventures of Asterix (French: Astérix or Astérix le Gaulois, IPA: [asteʁiks lə ɡolwa]) is a series of French comics. The series first appeared in the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Pilote on 29 October 1959. It was written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo until the death of Goscinny in 1977. Uderzo then took over the writing until 2009, when he sold the rights to publishing company Hachette. In 2013, a new team consisting of Jean-Yves Ferri (script) and Didier Conrad (artwork) took over. As of 2017, 37 volumes have been released. The series follows the adventures of a village of indomitable Gauls as they resist Roman occupation in 50 BC. They do so by means of a magic potion brewed by their druid Panoramix, named Getafix in the English translations, which temporarily gives the recipient superhuman strength. The protagonists, the title character Asterix, along with his friend Obelix have various adventures. The “ix” ending of both names (as well as all the other pseudo-Gaulish “ix” names in the series) alludes to the “rix” suffix (meaning “king”) present in the names of many real Gaulish chieftains such as Vercingetorix, Orgetorix and Dumnorix (See below for further explanations of the character names). Many of the stories have them travel to foreign countries, though others are set in and around their village. For much of the history of the series (Volumes 4 through 29), settings in Gaul and abroad alternated, with even-numbered volumes set abroad and odd-numbered volumes set in Gaul, mostly in the village. The Asterix series is one of the most popular Franco-Belgian comics in the world, with the series being translated into over 100 languages. The success of the series has led to the adaptation of several books into 13 films: nine animated, and four live action (one of which, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, was a major box office success in France). There have also been a number of games based on the characters, and a theme park near Paris, Parc Astérix. The very first French satellite, Astérix, launched in 1965, was also named after the comics character. As of October 2009, 325 million copies of 34 Asterix books had been sold worldwide, making co-creators René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo France’s bestselling authors abroad.

Plot

The main setting for the series is an unnamed coastal village (rumoured to be inspired by Erquy) in Armorica (present-day Brittany), a province of Gaul (modern France), in the year 50 BC. Julius Caesar has conquered nearly all of Gaul for the Roman Republic. The little Armorican village, however, has held out because the villagers can gain temporary superhuman strength by drinking a magic potion brewed by the local village druid, Getafix. His chief is Vitalstatistix.

The main protagonist and hero of the village is Asterix, who, because of his shrewdness, is usually entrusted with the most important affairs of the village. He is aided in his adventures by his rather fat and slower thinking friend, Obelix, who, because he fell into the druid's cauldron of the potion as a baby, has permanent superhuman strength (because of this, Getafix steadily refuses to allow Obelix to drink the potion, as doing so would have a dangerous and unpredictable result). Obelix is usually accompanied by Dogmatix, his little dog. (Except for Asterix and Obelix, the names of the characters change with the language. For example, Obelix's dog's name is "Dogmatix" in English, but "Idéfix" in the original French edition.)

Asterix and Obelix (and sometimes other members of the village) go on various adventures both within the village and in far away lands. Places visited in the series include parts of Gaul (Lutetia, Corsica etc.), neighbouring nations (Belgium, Spain, Britain, Germany etc.), and far away lands (North America, Middle East, India etc.).

The series employs science-fiction and fantasy elements in the more recent books; for instance, the use of extraterrestrials in Asterix and the Falling Sky and the city of Atlantis in Asterix and Obelix All at Sea.

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