On 29 October 1959, a French comic strip magazine called Pilote introduced the world to Asterix and Obelix — the adventure loving Gauls who had Julius Caesar quaking in his Roman chappals. Created by Rene Gosciny and Albert Uderzo, the comic books soon garnered a cult following that stayed faithful through generations. 33 books, 325 million copies, 107 language translations and 11 movies later, the two heroes turned 50 yesterday.
Celebrating the occasion is Asterx & Obelix’s Birthday - The Golden Book. The comic starts where everyone is older — Geriatrix is old and haggard, Unhyhienix is deaf and Asterix has a legion of little grandchildren, even Dogmatrix has a busy overgrown moustache and Obelix has to eat chick peas as “the Romans have uprooted all the forests”.
Thankfully however, the creator (who makes an appearance in one of the strips) is kicked out of the frame and all is back to 50 BC. It’s Asterix and Obelix birthday and while the two are out hunting for boars, Gauls have gathered from all over the tiny village to discuss the perfect birthday present. Getafix suggests individualised potions for both; a sheikh arrives with The Circumbendibus Travel Guide - a travelogue that recounts 50 years of adventures. The women of the village suggest brides, some suggest portraits, a movie, an amusement park, a statue of Obelix as Rodin’s Thinker, even Cleopatra forces Caesar to send a gift (watch out for that one Obelix).
If you’ve been reading Asterix since you were ye high, or if you discovered the comic just last year, check out The Golden Book — it’s a delightful read with countless nuances, cutting ironies and brilliant witticisms. Publishers: Hachette India Price: Rs 595 Authors: Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo; Illustrated by Albert Uderzo