Asterix comics is the best selling and most widely read in the world. The 35th album, “Asterix and the Picts’ has surpassed 5 million copies sold in 23 languages in the world.
And, since the creation of Asterix in 1959 by the brilliant duo René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, some 365 million albums have passed.
The potion for success
“Asterix meets identity stereotypes which are the bedrock of French culture” said Nicolas Rouviere university, specialist famous Gauls whose 36th album, “The papyrus Caesar” out Thursday in bookstores worldwide.
The French like to look in the mirror “reflecting caricatured and complacent way through their qualities and” , said the expert, author in 2014 of ” Complex Obelix “ (PUF).
The success potion? A healthy dose of irreverence and disputes, spicy camaraderie and good food, all seasoned with positive values such as strength and the ability to stick together face adversity.
A “History of France” into 36 volumes
“What are the ingredients of the Gallic mind, a concept appeared in writers French nineteenth century, which drew in our literary heritage which allowed to reinforce the idea of Nation, as the pleasures of the table in Rabelais’ said Nicolas Rouvière.
He said the phenomenon “Asterix” , resumed today by the duo Didier Conrad (drawing) and Jean-Yves Ferri (scenario), also based ” After the Gallic imaging textbooks of the Third Republic “.
For the anthropologist Marc Augé, the “History of France” into 36 volumes also seduced the French see it because, beyond the anachronisms, a metaphor the hexagonal politics.
“The French are fond of cartoons and characters of Asterix are particularly suited to the game that consists in associating each of them with a political personality” .
“The little star” is a star
But it would be simplistic to limit the adventures of the mischievous little Gaul a simple cocardo patriotic saga .
Asterix, literally “little star” , is also a star abroad, except for Asia, the undisputed kingdom of manga, and the United States, which he never did match for the muscular Superman and other superheroes comics that are part of the American collective imagination.
This was not the fate of Asterix in Germany, countries where our anti-hero has had from birth, the most successful after Gaul.
“It was the Cold War, the great empire of the time was the Soviet Union, so the idea of a small village that resists facing an empire worked well” said Nicolas Rouvière.
“Cohesion, brotherhood and fight against injustice”
“We were also in a context of Franco-German reconciliation, with emerging Europe, that of De Gaulle and Adenauer, fraternity among peoples which also explains its success “, he adds.
Bert Henning, head of the Berlin library Grober Unfug specializing in comics, clichés about France “play a secondary role” in the success of the series in Germany.
In his eyes, the series vehicle “universal values” like “cohesion, brotherhood e and the fight against the injustice “, mixed with ” human values ”.
by Nicolas Rouviere shared analysis for which Goscinny and Uderzo, the first son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and the second son of Italian immigrants, “emptied in their work, nationalist or patriotic representations of their seriousness “.
“The Crazy Romans! “
And even though some were able for a time believe that these practices fell within the xenophobic humorous cliché, authors ” laugh actually the tendency of every people to emphasize its values and its own cultural forms “, said the university.
By the famous ” The Crazy Romans! “ Obelix all the sauces (helvète, Breton, Norman or Egyptian …), the duo wanted to show that ethnocentrism is the best shared thing in the world.