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:)

Caricature Gallery Updated with 15 Recent Drawings!

Dear Friends,

I’ve updated the Caricature Gallery with new caricatures in almost all sections. If you’ve begun to visit my blog recently, you might not have seen the caricatures that I’ve uploaded since November 2010, as they were not there in the Gallery until now.

The Celebrity Caricatures that have been added to the gallery include:

  • Troy Polamalu
  • Charlie Sheen
  • Keanu Reeves
  • AR Rahman
  • Sachin Tendulkar
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Julius Caesar
  • Monalisa (yes, hers too.)

The additions to the gallery also include:

  • the Pen and Ink Drawing of an extremely resourceful terrier HH Dewey Dewster of Pawsylvania and
  • a Polymer Clay caricature of the Devil.

So please visit the Caricature Gallery to view the recent additions (which appear towards the end of each section.)

Smiles,
Shafali

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:)

Caesar’s assassination, his heart-broken guilt-ridden scribe, and his Caricature!

Julius Caesar has been haunting my dreams…

(Memoirs from Another Life!)

At about 2 AM, I woke up…bathed in cold sweat, with my throat so parched that I could barely speak, let alone scream.

Thankfully it was a dream, and so I couldn’t be held responsible for what happened…but not everyone thought of me as blameless, especially not Mark Antony. Here’s what happened.

It was March 15, 44 BC, and Caesar was rushing to address the Senate. He was wearing his toga and looking as charismatic as ever. I was right behind him – a scribe who definitely didn’t look like a woman, and I know this because I caught my reflection in a pond that we passed on our way to the Theater of Pompey. I looked worried and rushed, but what was my rush beside Caesar’s need to be immortalized. I had been chosen to be his ghost-writer. It was a great honor, as you can see, but the task was fraught with dangers, and the gravest danger of all was Caesar’s anger. Caesar knew that many Romans were plotting to have him assassinated, and he was dictating me something on this topic, when I heard hurried yet hushed footsteps behind me.

From the corner of my eye, I saw Mark Antony hurrying behind us. He looked worried and I knew that he wanted to say something important. Suddenly I saw him raise his index finger to his throat. Before I could understand what it all meant, Caesar asked me if I were listening, and I had to turn my attention to my notes. I wrote as we walked. A difficult feat indeed. We must have presented quite a picture. Caesar in the front, followed by me hurrying along to be on his side, and the ink-bearer behind me hurrying along to be on my side.

Just before we arrived at our destination, the clatter of Mark Antony’s wooden sandals stopped. I looked around, but I could see him no more. I could see many other Roman Senators because we had almost reached the theater, the arena in which the Roman political games took place. I was not allowed any further, because the proceedings of the Senate were not for me to record.Caesar stopped and looked into my eyes.

“You are doing a good job. Have you checked on that lazy artist who was commissioned to do my portrait for the cover-page?” he asked me. I had checked, and our Caesar was looking terribly handsome in it. I nodded my head and told him that it was ready.

“Good. I’d like to see it this evening,” said Caesar, dismissing me. He then turned, climbed the steps and disappeared inside the Theater of Pompey.

I and the ink-bearer had just turned for returning to Caesar’s villa, when we heard the commotion from within the theater. Something had gone wrong. The senators were always noisy, but the scream sounded ominous, and the voice that screamed sounded like it belonged to…Caesar.

I turned to see Mark Antony – his eyes accusing me of something. …Something?!

And then it all fell in place with a deafening crash. The gesture that he had made with his index finger flashed in front of my eyes…he had asked me to warn Caesar. I didn’t do it! And he was way-laid by another Roman who was an accessory to the crime…so he couldn’t warn Caesar either.

But what was done was done.Caesar was dead, but he wasn’t yet free to ascend to the heavens. He had an unfulfilled wish.

He wanted to see his Caricature!

He haunted me the whole night, and I bet that he’s haunted me through all those centuries that have passed by – but being the forgetful person that I am, I don’t remember. Nevertheless, this haunting has to stop…and although the India-Sri Lanka match for the Cricket World Cup Finals is beckoning me…I have to publish Julius Caesar’s Caricature before I go to bed tonight!

Caricature/Cartoon – William Shakespeare – The Great English Playwright and his Missing Computer

William Shakespeare, the national poet of England, wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and many poems. And he wrote all these without the help of computers!

Now if that isn’t a commendable performance, I don’t know what is. But Shakespeare shifted his office to heaven in 1616, and now when he writes, he often wishes that he had a computer!

The caricature, cartoon, or portrait of william shakespeare, the bard of Avon, wondering how easy it would have been, if he had a computer.

Shakespeare's Secret Wish!

Shakespeare’s Shortest Biography on the Web:

The “Bard of Avon” was born some time before April 26, 1564. He married young (at least by the standards of today) at 18. His wife was Anne Hathaway, who was about 8 years his senior but outlived the great writer. Shakespeare was most productive between the age of 25 and 50. He died when he was 52. At the beginning of his career, he was drawn towards writing comedies but towards the end he became disposed to writing tragedies. Two of his colleagues were responsible for his plays surviving him. They published the First Folio, a collection of most of his dramatic works.

As it happens, most geniuses are recognized only after they’ve settled in heaven. This was also true for Shakespeare. Fortunately, unlike Van Gogh (the artist,) his work earned him not just his bread and butter, but also some respect, even when he was alive. However, he wasn’t considered one of the greats until the eighteenth century. (To be considered a “Great” you need to check out. It ensures that you aren’t a threat to anyone else anymore!)

Note this (taken from Wikipedia…)
Robert Greene (you know him?!) attacked Shakespeare’s work in print, by calling him “an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers…”
What?! Yes, he was talking about the “Greatest English Writer!”

Shakespeare’s Plays:

I haven’t read a lot of plays written by Shakespeare, and whatever I ever read didn’t make a lot of sense to me (with the exception of The Merchant of Venice, which ends with a simple to understand and logical solution to a grave problem)…yet…here are the ones that I’ve read.

Comedies:

Tragedies:

Honestly, I don’t remember anything at all from those wonderful stories that I hardly understood:-( I had been happier had Shakespeare not been part of my syllabus in school – I’d have definitely scored much better in English! But you can’t do much about the Greats – you’ve got to read them. Period.)

Here are some other popular Plays that he wrote:

More Comedies:

More Tragedies:

An Important Note:

I had a crazy urge today. I wanted to draw in color! As you can surmise…I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, or I wouldn’t even consider something as crazy as using colors – but I didn’t just consider it, I caved in! So, now I have a caricature of Romeo and Juliet in COLOR! If you’d like to see it – come back! To find your way back to this blog, either subscribe to it (top of the right sidebar) or bookmark it! (It’s cool tattooed fun – promise!)

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A Break from Hollywood – The Caricaturist travels into the Past!

I believe it’s time for me to take a break…from Hollywood!

The next few caricatures shall be drawn from history:-)

Could you, my dear visitors, help me by listing the top 5 historical figures that come to your mind? Please add your list to the comments section of this post.

Here’s the list that I came up with:
1. Alexander the Great
2. Napoleon Bonaparte
3. Abraham Lincoln
4. Cleopatra
5. Leonardo da Vinci

I’ll be grateful for your inputs on this, so even if you are chance visitor who landed on this page through a search, please stop and add your top five. Next, click the “Subscribe and Get Caricatures in your email” link at the top right of the sidebar:-) I could be drawing caricatures from your list, and it would be really nice if I could share it with you.

All the best – I am glad you visited, and I hope you will return.

Warm Regards,
Shafali

Update: March 19, 2010 – First Lot of Historical Caricatures – Selected from those Suggested by You.

By Viv: (Zen & The Art of Tightrope Walking)

  • Shakespeare
  • Julius Caesar

By Don Mills: (The Problem with Young People Today is…)

  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Shakespeare

Add your list of the top five historical figures to see their caricatures on this blog.