Friday, June 24, 2005

Asterix the Gaul - Groo Le Barbare

Today's "You Decide" is Asterix the Gaul (pick courtesty of Zaki), the 2004 edition of the 1961 French "album" (as Asterix stories are called) by writer René Goscinny and artist Albert Uderzo.

In any event, as per the title (which is what Groo is translated into in France), this comic is basically quite similar to Groo the Barbarian - and that is a good thing.

The story is set in 50 BC, where Rome has conquered all of Gaul.

All except one tiny village, where the druid Getafix has developed a formula to give people super strength, so the Romans are no match for the Gauls in the village, Asterix in particular.

As you may have noticed, the names are silly. This is quite intentional. All the characters have silly names.

Asterix, Getafix, Obelix, Cacophinix, Vitalstatistix.

The Roman soldiers are led by Crismus Bonus.

Lot of groaners here.

In any event, the plot of the comic is exceptionally simple. The Romans send in a spy to steal the secret of the Gauls' strength, then kidnap Getafix, and Asterix and Getafix must outwit the Romans to be free.

The humor is derived from slapstick and sight gags. It is the type of humor that is truly universal. This comic could have easily been written today without dropping a step.

Good job by Goscinny.

The art by Uderzo is a treat as well.

He is not as detailed of a comic artist as Aragonés, but shares the same gift of comical art.

This is not the deepest of stories, but it is a fun, well-told book that can be enjoyed by all ages, which is a rarity that I think should be commended.

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Blogger Greg said...

Asterix is awesome. I read these in Germany in the 1970s, and those proto-comics days for me prepared for my actual comic-buying days (I read Tintin, too). I was so happy to see them in English here years later. I used to check them out of the library and laugh. Fine comics.

6/24/2005 08:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul Newell said...

Concerning the Story depth and art detail, you need to read some of the later volumes to see how the strip became much more sophisticated.

Check out "The Soothsayer", "Mansion of the Gods" or "The Roman Agent". :)

6/24/2005 08:58:00 PM  
Anonymous misterpc said...

Asterix remains one of the pinnacles of the comics experience. Like paul newell said, you have to keep reading to get the full flavour - ridiculous sight gags, horrific puns and some great satire (particularly on national stereotypes in Europe!), all in one handy package. The good news is, the English translations are just as good as the original French versions - even Goscinny and Uderzo said so!

6/26/2005 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

While I only read the first, I must say it was quite striking at how well the story was translated.

6/26/2005 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Dizzy said...

I agree with Paul and misterpc, this is the first in a series and it really is just a rough sketch compared to some of the later issues. Goscinny has to introduce his characters; the wonderful Obelix has little to say or do in this first issues, compare this to the brilliant character of Obelix in later issues.
In the same way Uderzo is still getting a feeling for the way he draws his characters, in later issues he will put them down with more ease and style (his best work may be perhaps in the Belgians where he takes a classic Belgian painting in the extras and adapts it to the heroes.)
My favourites are the 1st Legion (or whatever they called it in the english translation), the Roman Agent and Cleopatra.
Sadly the series went downhill after the death of Goscinny. Uderzo tries to keep the series going and isn't doing too bad a job, but he is an artist foremost, not a writer.

6/26/2005 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger mapletree7 said...

Asterix is wonderful - Goscinny wrote some wonderful children's books which I recommend as well.

6/27/2005 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Leigh Walton said...

Good Lord. Is Groo really more well-known than fucking Asterix!? Your comparison of the two is like reviewing Lee/Kirby's Fantastic Four and saying "it's a little bit like that cosmic stuff Jim Starlin did in the 80s."

6/29/2005 06:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree, how is it that Asterix is getting compared to Groo? Asterix is the original, Groo is the later work, and is remarkably similar. Asterix and Obelix rule all, and only stop to feed on the helmets of unconscious Romans...and some succulent roast pig, of course.

3/30/2012 01:43:00 AM  

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