Netflix has partnered with publisher Hachette’s Les Editions Albert René and playwright Alain Chabat to create the first-ever animated limited series based on the iconic French comic series The Adventures of Asterix.
The 3D animated series – which is in addition to the previously announced animated series, Idéfix et les irréductibles (Dogmatix and the Indomitables) – will be made in France and streamed on Netflix around the world in 2023. Chabat, who wrote and directed the Asterix film Mission Cléopâtre, will serve as showrunner.
“I’m excited to announce that Netflix and France’s leading publisher are teaming up to present Asterix, an iconic figure of French popular culture, to a new generation of worldwide viewers,” announced Dominique Bazay, Netflix’s director of original animation in a blog on the Netflix web site. “We’re partnering with Hachette’s Les Editions Albert René to create the first-ever animated limited series based on the timeless classic. Renowned French auteur and playwright Alain Chabat will direct and Alain Goldman (Legende Films) will produce.
“Alain Chabat is no stranger to this iconic property, Bazay continued. “He wrote and directed 2002’s Mission Cléopâtre, the most successful of Asterix’s numerous appearances on screen and the third highest-grossing feature film in French history. I’m thrilled that Alain Chabat is coming back to Asterix for the first time since then, and that it’s on Netflix. The series will debut in 2023.
“I have been talking with Celeste Surugue at Albert Rene for years about how to bring Asterix to Netflix,” Bazay revealed. “We built a great relationship of trust and mutual respect around our love for these characters.
“I’m French Canadian, and like most francophones around the world, I grew up with Asterix, his sidekick Obelix and loyal companion Dogmatix. I watched the animated specials and read the books religiously. If you’d told the eight-year-old me that one day I’d help bring these characters to life… I wouldn’t have believed you!”
The creation of René Goscinny and drawn by Albert Uderzo and first appearing in Pilote magazine, since the first Asterix graphic novel was published in 1961, 38 volumes have been released in 111 languages and dialects, with the 39th due later this year. There have also been 15 feature films dating back to 1967. The stories tell the saga of the pugnacious warrior Asterix and his irreverent village companions, who keep a tiny corner of ancient Gaul free from bumbling Roman invaders. Each new volume and film is, of course, eagerly awaited by fans, especially in France, Italy, Germany and Canada.
“I’ve always felt the unique tone of Goscinny and Uderzo’s humour is timeless,” says Bazay. “It’s why Asterix is so special – it appeals to all ages and crosses all borders.
“Our series will be adapted from one of the classic volumes, Asterix and the Big Fight, where the Romans, after being constantly embarrassed by Asterix and his village cohorts, organise a brawl between rival Gaulish chiefs and try to fix the result by kidnapping a druid along with his much-needed magic potion. I’m not giving anything away when I tell you, it doesn’t go as planned.
“I’m excited to introduce Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix to a whole new generation of fans around the world.”
Older British downthetubes readers may recall a previous Asterix the Gaul TV animated series, first broadcast in BBC1 in 1970, and later repeated. In fact, this was an edit of the first animated film, Asterix the Gaul, released in 1967. Over on Ludicrously Niche, Chris Wickham notes that Goscinny and Uderzo were not consulted on the feature film at all, and were so dissatisfied with the outcome that all work on a sequel adapting the second book, Asterix and the Golden Sickle, was scrapped.
When the film came to the BBC in 1970, it was re-edited and broadcast in eight 10-minute episodes, first airing in September 1970, according to BBC data.
In addition to the Netflix project, as we previously reported, a TV series centring on the character of Idefix/Dogmatix will air in France Télévisions from September 2021 and on Super RTL (Germany) at the end of 2021. This series, produced by France Télévisions and Futurikon, was originally expected to launch last year. The show stars Dogmatix, Obelix’s pet dog, who has previously been the focus of a number of his own adventures in books
A new live action film that will see Asterix and Obelix travel to China on an unprecedented adventure, directed by Guillaume Canet, is currently due for release in 2022.
Earlier this year, it was announced the next new Asterix album would be published on 21st October 2021, offering another big journey for the plucky warrior and friends from ancient Gaul.
While there does as yet appear to be an English language edition, also announced for release in October, in France, at least, is Asterix – Le Menhir d’or from Éditions Albert René, an Asterix illustrated adventure. Written by René Goscinny and drawn by Albert Uderzo, it was published as a book-disc in 1967, a unique adventure has become almost impossible to find – and ever before published in an album.
In the Village, agitation reigns: Cacofonix (known as Assurancetourix in France) has decided to participate in the famous Gallic bards singing competition to win the Menhir d’Or. To protect in this competition closely followed by the Romans, Asterix and Obelix are responsible for the support … even it means losing their hearing!
A luxury French edition of the classic Asterix the Gaul story, Asterix and the Golden Sickle (La Serpe d’Or), has also recently been announced, for release in November.
This edition features the full album in colour, all of the original inked boards, and a 35-page dossier revealing secrets to the creation of the album, first published in album format in 1962 (it was serialised in Pilote in 1960), with numerous drawings and unpublished working documents by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
• ASTERIX® – OBELIX® – IDEFIX® / © 2021 LES ÉDITIONS ALBERT RENÉ / GOSCINNY – UDERZO
With thanks to Paul Simpson