Asterix is a fictional character and the titular hero of the French comic book series Asterix.
He is a small-statured cunning Gallic warrior who, with the help of a magical strength potion, defends his village and goes on comic globe-trotting adventures.
He lives around 50 BC in a fictional village in northwest Armorica (a region of ancient Gaul mostly equivalent to modern Brittany).
Asterix is one of the smartest and most sensible members of the village, and so he is usually chosen for any dangerous, important or exotic mission. Unlike most of the other villagers, he does not start or join brawls for the fun of it, although he does enjoy a good fight when there’s cause. He rarely resorts to weapons, preferring to rely on his wits, and when necessary, his (magic potion enhanced) fists – though he carries his shortsword with him at all times, he is shown to be an occasional swordsman at best. What he does for a living is never truly known, though he is often shown going on missions, quests, or hunting. In Asterix and the Cauldron, however, it is clearly stated that neither he nor Obelix have ever done anything of the sort to ‘earn’ money. Asterix is most often simply described as a warrior, which makes sense in light of the fact that most of the adventures he undertakes at some point require engaging an enemy.
Asterix’ village is celebrated as the only part of Gaul still not conquered by Julius Caesar and his Roman legions. The inhabitants of the village gain superhuman strength by drinking a magic potion prepared by the druid, Getafix. The village is surrounded by, on one side, the ocean, and on the other by four unlucky Roman garrisons, intended to keep a watchful eye and ensure that the Gauls do not get up to mischief. These camps are Compendium, Aquarium, Laudanum and Totorum.
Asterix’ parents are former villagers who now live in the city of Condatum (Rennes), and he has cousins in Britannia (Britain).
His best friend is Obelix. Having fallen into a vat of the potion when he was an infant, Obelix is extraordinarily strong. He is also rather clumsy and is the frequent (if unwitting) source of injuries and accidents in the village. He is not allowed to drink the strength potion for fear that it will make him even more destructive, and his attempts to sneak a draft are the source of many comic mishaps.
Although no romantic interest has been introduced for Asterix yet, it seems obvious that Asterix is more susceptible than his best friend Obelix to the charms of women. Asterix seems ‘lovestruck’ after receiving a kiss from Panacea towards the end of Asterix the Legionary and remains so till the last strip. He also seems similarly affected by a kiss from Latraviata, the female protagonist in Asterix and the Actress, although then it seems that Latraviata’s effect on Asterix may have gone deeper, as he reflects on her (or maybe something else) during the journey back to their village.
The “-ix” ending of Asterix name (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.
Asterix was created by writer René Goscinny and illustrator Albert Uderzo and debuted in 1959 in the French comic magazine Pilote.
The most translated comic book ever is The Adventures of Asterix, created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo in 1959, translated in 111 languages and dialects, including Welsh, Latin, Swiss German and Esperanto.
In 1961 the first book was put together, titled Asterix the Gaul. From then on, books were released generally on a yearly basis. Their success was exponential – the first book sold 6,000 copies in its year of publication – a year later, the second sold 20,000. In 1963, the third sold 40,000; the fourth, released in 1964, sold 150,000. A year later, the fifth sold 300,000; 1966’s Asterix and the Big Fight sold 400,000 upon initial publication. The ninth Asterix volume, when first released in 1967, sold 1.2 million copies in two
Since its creation, thirty-five books in the series have been released, with Uderzo taking over writing duties after the death of Goscinny in 1977.
The stories may be predictable, the allegory sometimes a little heavy – but their appeal to readers of all ages lies in so many aspects of their work. The subtlety of language (which was always a challenge for the translators) and Uderzo’s extraordinary drawings – the page in La Grande Traversée (Asterix and the Great Crossing) where Asterix and Obelix have to explain the Gauls in signs and gestures is a masterpiece. These firm foundations were supplemented by their intelligence, deft wordplay and gentle – and not always so gentle – use of stereotypes. But the principal stereotype that underpins the whole show is that of the Gauls – that is to say the French themselves.
Asterix has also appeared in several animated and live-action film adaptations of the series, and serves as the mascot of the amusement park Parc Astérix. Before that, he was also the mascot of the magazine Pilote.