Richard Sheaf reports on the UK launch of the 38th Asterix adventure, Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter at London’s Cartoon Museum earlier this week, which included a Q&A with the series current translator, Adriana Hunter…
First published 60 years ago. 377 million albums sold worldwide. 25.5m albums sold in English. Translated into 111 different languages. Ten animated films. Four live action films. Over 2.1m visitors to Le Parc Asterix in 2018.
It’s clear that the cultural phenomenon that is Asterix shows no sign of going away any time soon, despite the death of original writer and co-creator René Goscinny in 1977 and artist Albert Uderzo’s retirement from drawing in 2011.
The recent publication of the latest 38th story, Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter, scripted by Jean-Yves Ferri with art by Didier Conrad, was celebrated on Tuesday by a launch party at London’s Cartoon Museum, an event that included an appearance by the new book’s English translator, Adriana Hunter.
In this new adventure, escorted by two local chiefs, a mysterious teenage girl arrives in a certain Gaulish village. Her father is said to be Vercingetorix, the brave chieftain who was defeated in battle by the Romans. Now, Julius Caesar is looking to capture her at any cost…
The chieftain’s feisty daughter is placed under Asterix and Obelix’s watch, but she has other ideas and soon gives her new guardians the slip. The race is on to find her before the Romans do. Will our indomitable heroes get to her in time?
Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter, replete with all the usual punning wordplay (“all torc and no action” is my favourite so far), delivers all you would expect from an Asterix book, with a polished English language adaptation from Adriana Hunter (also known as Adriana Capadose).
Working as a translator for over 20 years on over 80 books, Adriana has been short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize twice, with credits that include bringing Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb and The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sashe to British audiences. Chieftain’s Daughter is her second Asterix book, and as she noted at the launch a departure from her usual work, but not from her personality.
The focus of this new Asterix adventure is definitely on the younger (and younger at heart) characters of this comic saga, which began with the debut of Asterix the Gaul in Pilote magazine, back in 1959. The introduction of Adrenalin, the titular chieftain’s daughter, provides an opportunity to expand on some of the younger characters – Crabstix, son of the fishmonger Unhygienix, and Selfipix, son of Fulliautomatix.
While Adrenalin may come across as surly and grumpy (“I’d way rather dress like a Goth”) she a good person at heart, who’s being manipulated by other people. Ultimately, it’s this manipulation that sees the kids working together (rather than fighting) and it’s the adults who are doing the fighting.
Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter is a really interesting addition to the Asterix canon, with plenty of classic ingredients (Romans, the pirates, the traditional feast scene at the end) and art that looks very faithful to the original – a tribute to the series current artist Didier Conrad.
• Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter is available now from all good book shops, £7.99 in paperback, £10.99 in hardback. You can order it here on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link, help support downthetubes, thank you)
ASTERIX IN NUMBERS
• Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter will have a print run of over five million and be published in more than 20 languages in 2019
• Excluding new publications, album sales continue to grow in France with more than 600,000 copies sold a year
• Asterix has his own thriving theme park, with over two million visitors a year
• To date, there have been four live-action films and 10 animated films. The latest, Asterix and The Magic Potion, released last year, was the biggest French animation hit since 2006
• A TV series, Dogmatix and the Indomitables (“Idefix et Les Irreducibles”), is currently in development with France Télévisions and Futurikon, expected to launch in 2020. The show stars Dogmatix, Obelix’s pet dog, who has previously been the focus of a number of his own adventures in books
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