Asterix returns for new adventures with Assange-like reporter

22nd October 2015, Comments 0 comments

Asterix and his friend Obelix tackle the leak of top secret Roman information with a strong dose of humour in the hugely-anticipated new volume of their adventures, released Thursday in France and abroad.

After their last escapade in Scotland, the boisterous Gauls are back in their homeland in "Asterix and the Missing Scroll", teaming up with a reporter inspired by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to battle their favourite Roman foes.

The 36th edition in the hugely-successful comic book series, which features the adventures of an indomitable tribe of Gauls resisting Roman occupation, came out in Paris, London, Madrid, Montreal and Cape Town, with further releases planned later in other countries.

Four million copies have been printed -- half in French and the rest in foreign languages.

- Gags, nod to modern technology -

At the start of the story, Julius Caesar is on the verge of publishing his famous "Commentaries on the Gallic War", with one chapter devoted to his continual yet ever-unsuccessful quest to conquer Asterix's small village.

But that's not to the liking of his deceitful advisor Libellus Blockbustus, a tiny, balding man whose physical traits are strangely similar to those of French advertising magnate Jacques Seguela.

Caesar agrees to take out the offending chapter, but there is a leak and a scribe hands the bombshell to Confoundtheirpolitix -- a passionate blond reporter -- who travels to Gaul from Rome and passes it on to Asterix.

The comic book is full of winks and nods to modern technology, such as the blue birds in the forest reminiscent of the Twitter symbol, and gags abound.

When Confoundtheirpolitix arrives, the village of indomitable Gauls is all shook up by the latest horoscope in the "Condatum Echo" -- the only part of the newspaper they are interested in.

The ageing Geriatrix has been told he will make new conquests, to the fury of his young wife.

Meanwhile greedy Obelix -- who likes nothing more than a good fight with the Romans -- falls into near-shock when the horoscope says he must avoid conflict and reduce his boar intake.

- 'Whirlwind' -

Before the global release, writer Jean-Yves Ferri told AFP he felt like he'd been "caught in a whirlwind."

"It's a more ambitious theme than the last book," he said, adding it took him a year-and-a-half to finish it.

The new adventures come two years after the Gallic duo re-emerged from an eight-year absence in "Asterix and the Picts", which took them to ancient Scotland for the first time and sold over 5.4 million copies in 15 countries.

The Asterix series -- created by illustrator Albert Uderzo and writer Rene Goscinny in 1959 -- is a bestseller in the comic book world, with some 365 million copies sold worldwide.

Over the years, Asterix and Obelix have met Cleopatra, drunk tea with the English, taken part in the Olympic Games and eaten countless roast boar.

With the help of a druid-brewed magic potion that gives them superhuman strength, they have also taken great pleasure in beating up scores of Romans.

The series has been adapted into live-action films and is the inspiration for a popular theme park, Parc Asterix, outside Paris.

It has always been a hugely intimate affair and Uderzo, now 88, took over the writing after Goscinny died in 1977.

He quit drawing in 2011, and "Asterix and the Picts" was the first of the books to be written and illustrated by two entirely new people -- Ferri and illustrator Didier Conrad, who continued their collaboration for "Asterix and the Missing Scroll".

© 2015 AFP

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