Friday, November 18, 2011

A fan's tribute to Asterix!

I absolutely love Asterix.
And so do millions of readers from around the world. No other comic in the universe has as much re-read value. I've probably read every Asterix book a dozen times atleast - and I don't get bored! Each time, readers find something unique and unseen before in the drawings and expressions of Goscinny and Uderzo, and it is real sad that so few of the comics got made.
There are fan clubs, and there are several people who pay to tribute to Asterix in their own way. Cities have boulevards named after him and Obelix, and there is even an Asterix museum in his beloved Gaul. But no one is as much a fan as Peter Kessler is. The term 'fan' is not adjective enough for him. He's eaten up every word and every line that ever came in an Asterix comic, and he certainly must have spent years researching Asterix in order to come up with his tribute - The Complete Guide to Asterix.
The guide is every bit as delightful as an original Asterix comic (and probably even more so!). Peter gives us a behind the scenes like never before. I'm not a big fan of comics, but I am fairly certain that no other comic series has had such a solid researcher among their legion of fans.
If you remember your Asterix, you will recall that there are several quirks which are so endearing. And you will also remember that the beauty of these books is their illustrations. The amount of detail which goes into every single drawing is unbelievable! Get a book handy, and open up any page - you will agree. Unless there is something which actually points things out to us, we won't realize the magic of these images! For instance, did you know that the artist (through the character of Asterix) has a fond spot for drawing chickens? There are hundreds of chicken which are drawn obscurely in each book, and we don't even realize it! The expressions of these chicken are utterly hilarious!! And I would not have known about them save for Peter Kessler's drudgery!
The Secret Potion has a recipe which is, well, secret! But there are several books in which one or the other ingredient is revealed. Most of us would recollect Mistletoe. But the rest of the ingredients? Peter has a section in his book where he has a list of ingredients - collected from all the books put together! So we could probably brew it ourselves now - provided we have a golden sickle and the right cauldron (oh, and yes, the druid Getafix)!
The History of Dogmatix (he was not a part of the first books), the evolution of the drawings in Asterix (the first books looked nothing like the ones we go ga-ga over!), the introduction of several characters we are so used to (Unhygienix, Cacafonix, Geriatrix), and a delightful section dedicated to the ladies of the village - all of them find place among the chapters of this treasure, and believe me, you will certainly want to read every single Asterix book once again - with this guide by your side!
One confusing aspect of Asterix (especially to those of us who are not schooled in the royal language of Latin) is the expressions of a certain pirate, and of Caesar. All of the Latin sayings used in Asterix books have been explained in the guide, and now I can appreciate better why the Pirate captain gets so livid with the old man each time their ship is scuttled by the gauls :)
Oh, there's much more. This is a book which not only has to be read, but is to be preserved and handed down the generations - along with the much-thumbed (smelt, licked, and digested) editions from the Asterix series. There is a foreword from Albert Uderzo himself, and it is quite a memoir!
In India, we might find it difficult to get a physical copy of the book. Try for an online edition instead, or order one from Amazon
This one is a real gem! Thanks Peter Kessler! May you be blessed with a cauldron full of the magic potion, and a lullaby from Cacafonix!

1 comment:

harshita said...

I have read this book...it opened my eyes to so many aspects of asterix that i had glossed over previously! it's a must read for any asterix fan :)re