ably translated from the French by Joe Johnson.
This omnnibus collects brand new translations of three full Asterix tales, originally written in the 1970s: Asterix And The Soothsayer, Asterix In Corsica, and Asterix And Caesar’s Gifts. Perhaps most interestingly, it also includes an afterword by Alexander Simmons, writer and founder of Kids’ ComicCon, who addresses the casual racism of the comics, tho not to any great extent. Still, it was nice to see those instances of mildly xenophobic humor pointed out, as they definitely don’t translate well to the mores of this day and age.
Which is not however an accusation one can level at the rest of the book! The puns and other associated wordplay still elicit as much, if not more, laughter from me than they did when I first read the Asterix comics back in the 80s. The main characters are Asterix, a small hero with a big heart; Obelix, the menhir deliveryman who is his best friend, and Dogmatix, Obelix’s scrappy little white dog. If you don’t laugh at the fact that some of the surrounding Roman encampments are named Laudunum and Aquarium, then yes, perhaps these are not the books for you. But if you’d like some nimble linguistic jokes to go with the ultimately hopeful, and often well-researched, tales of a small Gaulish village resisting the efforts of the steamrolling Romans to assimilate them into empire, then these are delightful must-reads!
The first book sees a soothsayer wandering into said village, flinging portents left and right. Asterix immediately smells something fishier afoot than the wares in Unhygienix’s daily display, but the rest of the village quickly falls under the wandering prophet’s spell. If only their own druid Panoramix weren’t away so he could put a stop this nonsense! Asterix will have to figure out how to put an end to the soothsayer’s influence on his own.
The second book has Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix traveling to Corsica to assist an escaped prisoner with an insurrection against the local Roman garrison, while the final story deals with the fallout from the arrival of a new family in town, with a beauteous daughter named Za Za. I wonder if today’s kids will get the Zsa Zsa Gabor jokes — which already seemed dated to me as a child — tho they’ll certainly laugh at Obelix’s susceptibility to yet another pretty face.
Overall, this is a delightful collection of comics packed with both heart and humor, most of which translate well despite the passage of some forty-odd years. Even if you’re not nostalgic for a childhood reading these comics as I am, they’re still a terrific, semi-historical, wholly entertaining read for the joke- and pun-lover.
Asterix Omnibus #7 by Rene Goscinny & Albert Uderzo was published July 5 2022 by Papercutz and is available from all good booksellers, including