The Time Machine: Asterix the Gaul by Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny

Time Machine Icon for the History of Comic Strips Posts

Introductory Gibberish – Skip it!

Last night when I got into my Time Machine for my umpteenth trip into the past, I forgot to check the fuel-meter. Only when the machine stopped whirring and began coughing and spluttering, did I realize what sort of idiot I had been! Thankfully, the machine stopped in the year 1955, and gasoline had already been discovered. I shudder to imagine what might’ve happened had the gas lasted up to the Neolithic or even the Paleolithic era.

However, the point that I am dying to make is that I turned lucky as the Time Machine materialized in the backyard of a house in France. I stepped out of the machine and looked around. There was snow all around me – and in fact, there was a snowman too. I did a double take when I looked at the snowman. Believe it or not, the snowman looked exactly like Asterix! I shuffled my memories…trying to get the timeline straight. In 1955, Asterix didn’t exist. The world (okay, France) first met Asterix the Gaul in 1959! Something just wasn’t right.

And then I saw a young man wearing earmuffs, a fur jacket, and a pair of snow-boots (No. He wasn’t dressed like Obelix, I assure you.) He was sitting on a log with an A3 Sketchbook on his knees. He was sitting there, drawing people with gigantic noses! That’s how I recognized him. His noses are the biggest in the world of cartooning – and if you tell me otherwise, you must not have read Asterix comics.

I asked the young man about the snowman, and he told me that the snow-guy was a figment of his imagination. Obviously I asked him for his name, and he told me that he was Albert Uderzo.

So, that’s how I ended up writing about Asterix.

Introductory Gibberish Ends 🙂

The Theme of Asterix Comics:

Asterix the Gaul lives in a little Gaulish village that remains unconquered despite rest of the Gaul having been captured by Julius Caesar. The secret of their invincibility lies in a magic potion that Druid Getafix fixes for them. After the villagers tank up on the magic potion, they bash up the Romans and pack them off.

The Characters in Asterix Comics:

While Asterix is the main protagonist, there are a lot of other important characters too, and each of them has his own distinct personality. The second most visible character is Obelix. Obelix is huge and dumb while Asterix is small and smart. Obelix has a cute little dog (a terrier, I believe) who is called Dogmatix (who was called Idefix in French). Then there are the others. There’s Chief VitalstatistixBard CacofonixDruid Getafix, the fish monger Unhygienix, and so on.

The main and the constant opponent is Julius Caesar who is unable to accept the fact that this little Gaulish village makes minced meat out of his able troops.

The Stories/Adventures of Asterix:

Each Asterix book tells a story. The stories are usually set in an around the Gaulish countryside, but sometimes Asterix, Obelix, and Dogmatix travel to distant lands.

The Unique Selling Proposition of Asterix Comics:

Why am I, the forever cynic, sold on Asterix comics?
Honestly, it’s because they are simply awesome. The characters, the action-lines that make the scenes come alive, the strength and the smoothness of the drawings, the composition of the scenes, the details of the clothes, buildings, and places – and the dialogs too!

The Creators of Asterix:

Perhaps every Asterix-lover knows that Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo created this little giant who’s loved the world over (perhaps not so much in America, though I wonder why not.)

Rene Goscinny did most of the writing while Albert Uderzo did most of the drawing…but both could draw extremely well. Unfortunately Goscinny died rather young – at the age of 51. In 1977, he suffered a heart attack while he was taking a stress test. This happened while Goscinny and Uderzo was working on Asterix in Belgium. This book was later completed by Uderzo.

After Goscinny’s death Uderzo continued as the sole-creator of Asterix comics. Thus, Adventures 25 to 34 were created by Uderzo alone.

And

A few other things…

for instance,

  • The Gauls are scared of the sky falling on their heads. (So are the Democrats!)
  • Obelix’s favorite war-cry is “These Romans are crazy!” (What’s not noted in the books is that Obelix’s concern was well-founded. Most of those Romans were tattooed and pierced in all the right and some wrong places.)
  • Dogmatix loves trees and he hates it when anyone attempts to harm the trees. (Obviously, because trees are important for dogs.)
  • Bard Cacofonix is often found tied up to a tree while the whole village feasts. (Apparently, this is to stop him from singing. Where were all those human rights people back then?)
  • Chief Vitalstatistix loves to gorge himself all the time, while his shield-bearers use every opportunity to topple him from the shield. (Thankfully there were no unions in the little Gaulish village.)
  • Obelix is invincible because when he was little, he fell into a cauldron of magic potion (Ewww…the potion has cooled down, I hope.)

I could go on and on…but I’d recommend that you read the real thing instead:)

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Caricature/Cartoon – Julius Caesar – The Roman General and Cleopatra’s first Roman Paramour!

Julius Caesar was born on the thirteenth of July, 100 BC – just about 2110 years ago. You know him as the guy from Shakespeare’s drama Julius Caesar, in which he dramatically cries out “et tu Brute!” before he dies; as the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra’s Roman paramour; and as the untiring pursuer of the fearless Gauls in the famous Asterix comics.

Here’s Julius Caesar with his Laurel Wreath and two butterflies auditing the quality of the wreath.

A Cartoon, Caricature, Sketch, Portrait of Julius Caesar, the Roman General who was Cleopatra's lover!

They use only the most tender leaves for making his wreath.

A Short Biography of Julius Caesar

Caesar was born in a noble but poor family. His wasn’t a typical rags-to-riches saga, but he did have a tough life. At 16 he was heading his family, at 17 he became the high priest of Jupiter for which he had to break off his engagement and get married to another girl from a noble family; and then before he turned 21, he was forced to go into hiding because Sulla, the then dictator of Rome was weeding out the potential threats. Caesar’s mom’s family had to pull some strings to get him a pardon – after which Caesar joined the army.Only when Sulla died, Caesar returned to Rome.

Caesar came back poor and had to stay in a lower-class neighborhood (slums?) As he still had to put food on his rickety table, he decided to become a lawyer. One thing led to another (as it always does in stories that become too long to tell,) and in 60 BC he won the election and became a consul (whatever that means – if you know, please feel free to enlighten me.)

Caesar’s Personal Life

Caesar’s first wife Cornelia died in 69 BC. He then married Pompeia. She was suspected of having an affair with a guy who had a really complex name. the chauvinist Caesar didn’t approve of it at all – “Caesar’s wife should be above all suspicion,” he said in Roman – and divorced Pompeia. About 10 years later, he married Calpurnia to further his political career. Eventually, he discovered Cleopatra and he had an extra-marital affair with her.

Julius Caesar and Cleopatra

Cleopatra the ruler of Egypt met Caesar when she was already onto her second husband (who was also her younger brother) Ptolemy 14th!
(Wow! Those guys were super-creative when it came to naming their children…it must have something to do with the royal inbreeding program followed by the Egyptian royalty.)

Nevertheless, she decked herself up in a rug and met Caesar and they went for a long cruise on Nile – a lot of interesting things might’ve happened between them and some say that Cleopatra conceived Caesarion, their son, while they were bobbing up and down on the Nile. Though they say that J and C were crazy about each other, I’d say that Cleo was just trying to get some political mileage out of her relationship with Julius – or why would she land in Mark Antony’s lap the moment Caesar cried “Et tu Brutus”?

If you are completely nuts and you want to read more about JC and Cleo’s mushy love-life, check out the following two links:

  1. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3329
  2. http://www.suite101.com/content/julius-caesar-and-cleopatra-a224138

Caesar’s Relationship with the Gauls

Caesar’s relationship with the Gauls could be described as troubled at best (source: Asterix Comics:)) He had brought the whole Gaul under his control and converted it into Roman territory, save one tiny little village, where Asterix and Obelix lived. His army was scared of the two Gauls, because they had the magic potion that Druid Getafix used to fix for them (and as a child, Obelix had fallen into a cauldron of the magic potion – I hope that the potion had cooled down when he fell into it.)

Once again, to cut a long story short – you need to pick an Asterix comic to understand it completely…or you might want to get in touch with Albert Uderzo, who in my opinion, is the best comic book illustrator and cartoonist in this world.

Caesar’s Assassination

Caesar’s popularity and his re-election as the dictator of Rome for the third time in succession led to a strong wave of jealousy among the senators. About 40 senators stabbed him to death in the Theater of Pompei. With his death, the Roman Republic died to give way to an empire, with Caesar’s adopted son Octavian becoming the emperor.

I guess this is all that I want to tell you about Caesar…and his butterflies.

Julius Caesar Quotes

There two important quotes that should be mentioned here.

Et tu brute! : This phrase literally means, “You too Brutus!” You should exclaim “Et tu brute” when someone you trust cheats on you. For instance, if your dog bites you. This phrase should never be used when your politicians cheat you, because you’d be a fool to trust your politicians.

Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion: This phrase means, people who are connected to people who have an image to cultivate, should not have ghosts in their cupboards. Example:? (Can you see me scratching my head…I too would need a laurel wreath soon.) Please feel free to add an example to the comments section:)