Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.

- Graycie Harmon

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I feel as if I've missed out on something. My childhood, I now realise, has been terribly incomplete. Why? Well, because I never really got into the Asterix books/comics (hence the asterisks as the title. It was a play on, uh, words/symbols. Clever? Uh... not so much, upon reflection).

My flatmate has sought to remedy that. She borrowed a few of the Asterix books from her parents for me to read. I started on them last night.

I. Love. Them.

Translated from French, not only is it clear that the author and illustrator have done their research (they provide a great deal of factual references (and sometimes not so factual)), but they are roll on the floor funny. I think my background in Celtic Studies has made them even funnier for me.

The opening scene, for example, of the first book, Asterix the Gaul, shows the Gaulish hero Vercingetorix throwing down his arms before Caesar (and event that actually happened) ... onto his foot as Caesar howls in pain. The imagery is hysterical.

Even funnier are the names.

Getafix is the name of the village druid who brews a special potion that the Gauls take to make them almost invincible.

The chief of the village is Vitalstatistix.

There's a character named Tragicomix.

The names of the Romans are equally as hysterical. Ginantonix, Veriambitius, Crismus Bonus, Nefarius Purpus... man, I'm giggling just listing them!

I spent most of last night reading them and howling with laughter. They write speech bubbles full of hieroglyphics for the Egyptian characters (and then 'dub' them). Their running gags are brilliant (people in love cry a lot, apparently). Also, they will sometimes provide footnotes. For example, a speech bubble appeared containing a star, an exclamation mark, a skull and a swirl. At the end was the footnote indicator. The footnote read: Ancient Gaulish swear words.

It's much less funny when I have to write it out...

I can't explain all that is funny about them, you'll just have to read them, if you haven't already. I mean it. Read them. They're most definitely not just for kids.

Time to get writing, so here's today's Forgotten English.


A skating-rink with ice artificially produced, as in aquarium, vivarium.

- Sir James Murray's New English Dictionary, 1901

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