Asterix, the pint-sized Gaul forever outfoxing the Romans, has returned for his 38th comic and the first to feature a female heroine.
His latest adventure, titled Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter, features Adrenaline, the teenage daughter of famous Gaulish king Vercingetorix.
The last three editions of Asterix have been written by Jean-Yves Ferri and drawn by Didier Conrad, sticking closely to the original format.
Ferri said it was a challenge incorporating a historical figure, Vercingetorix — a king that united Gauls in revolt against Julius Caesar’s forces — into the world of Asterix’s Gauls.
“He turned history upside down – History with a capital H,” said Ferri of Vercingetorix, who defeated Caesar’s forces in the Battle of Gergovia in 52 BC. But after losing the Battle of Alesia he was captured, paraded through the streets and then executed.
“Adrenaline provided a solution, to talk about her father while talking about his daughter. That led to an interesting theme which is adolescence, which hadn’t been talked about much in previous series,” Ferri said.
In the story, Adrenaline keeps Asterix and his oversized sidekick Obelix busy chasing after her as she explores teenage rebellion.
Anne Goscinny, Rene Goscinny’s daughter, said: “I think that Adrenaline is certainly in the spirit of the times, but above all, it is in harmony with the spirit of the work, with humour, with the adventures of Asterix in general.
“It is almost a character that my father could have invented.”
Goscinny, who created the Asterix series with Albert Uderzo, died in 1977. Uderzo, now 92, has not illustrated the books since 2013.
Didier Conrad, the illustrator of Asterix and the Chieftain’s daughter, said that times had changed since the books were first published.
“It’s not really an ‘Asterix’ thing, it’s more of a 1960’s-1970’s comic book thing. In general, there were almost no female characters for purely strategic reasons, for the readers, because there weren’t many girls reading, or at least, if they were, nobody knew about it,” he said.
The books have inspired a dozen movies and cartoon series, making it a global phenomenon.
The latest book is released worldwide in more than 20 languages with an initial print run of over five million copies.