The Lakes International Comic Art Festival, in partnership with Lancaster University, has announced further details of this year’s Festival Weekend Opening Night event on Friday 14th October – “Clash of the Toon Titans“, a battle between comic superstars Asterix and Tintin for the hearts and minds of attending comic fans.
The Opening Night will also include the announcement of the new Comics Laureate, taking on the role from artist Dave Gibbons, who will be at the event.
The Beatles or Stones? DC or Marvel? Connery or Moore? Strictly or X Factor?
There are some questions that divide the nation. You cannot sit on the fence. You have to choose. This is the biggie. In the second half of the twentieth century, Francophone comics culture was dominated by two nerdy little characters: a cub reporter from Belgium with an unlikely quiff, and a pint-sized ancient Gaul with an improbable moustache. Between them they have spawned 60 books, 24 movies, dozens of scholarly works, at least one theme park and an entire art style, ligne claire. Their creators have been deified with honours like the Legion d’Honneur and demonised by being banned from libraries over the years. But the weird thing is: few people like both of them. You’re either an Asterix or a Tintin fan.
For the opening event of LICAF 2016, there are people determined to settle this thing for good. The Festival is bringing together two top teams to slug it out on stage – without the help of a magic potion – and establish which character most deserves that cherished place on your oversized bookshelf. Putting the case for Tintin is Benoît Peeters, novelist, philosopher, Visiting Professor in Graphic Fiction and Comic Art at Lancaster University, and author of two books on Tintin’s creator, Herge. Holding out gallantly against the oppressors is Peter Kessler, BAFTA award-winning producer and author of ‘The Complete Guide to Asterix’.
Joining them live on stage will be Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard, comic book writer Leah Moore, Australian comics scholar and creator Stuart Medley and VIZ artist Graham Dury. On screen will be a host of comics artists, authors and readers with the ever-popular comic creator Hannah Berry acting as referee. To top it all our special festival guests, all the way from Los Angeles, Luke and Steve McGarry, will be bringing their fast-draw cartooning talents to the table illustrating the entire event as it happens.
“On one level this is all for fun, and it doesn’t really matter who is the ‘greatest’ (whatever that means),” says Peter Kessler, “But on a personal level I do feel that over the years there has been a kind of assumption amongst the cognoscenti that Tintin is ‘great art’, while Asterix is ‘just for kids’. Certainly there have been more ‘grown-up’ books on Tintin than Asterix. “I really don’t think that is a justifiable state of affairs and in the interest of rebalancing public opinion, I’m sure each ‘side’ will really go out there and try to win the debate.”
Lancaster University appointed renowned French graphic novelist and critic Benoît Peeters as its Visiting Professor in Graphic Fiction and Comic Art, the first ever such appointment in the UK, in 2015. The post represents a significant investment in the academic significance of comic art by the University and has been created in close working partnership with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Additional support has been provided by Wallonia Brussels International.
The three-year appointment will see Benoît deliver a series of lectures, run creative writing workshops, and supervise post-graduate students.
“I am very proud to be part of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival for a second time,” says Benoît. “I like the ambition and the diversity of this project, which creates a lot of connections between comics, graphic novels, manga and bandes dessinées. “I appreciate the high quality of the team and the beauty of the region, and I’m sure that the Lakes International Comic Art Festival will become one of the most important Comics manifestations in Europe.”
Professor Simon Guy, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Lancaster University said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Lakes international Comic Art Festival and look forward to formally announcing and celebrating the appointment of Benoît Peeters to a Professorship in Graphic Fiction and Comic Art. His appointment is bringing new ideas and insights to our English and creative writing courses and more widely across the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.”
• View the 2016 Lakes International Festival Programme on Issuu here
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Everyone will be aware that the Asterix stories by Goscinny and Uderzo have been officially translated into English, translated by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge – and they have been widely praised for their rendition of the English language edition, maintaining the spirit and humour of the original, even when direct translation is impossible. Their first volume was published by Brockhampton Press in 1969.
However, there have been some additional translations, including two appearances in British comics in the 1960s. There’s a useful guide to all these translations here on Wikipedia, but downthetubes readers will be particularly interested in those that appeared in British comics in the 1960s – neither of which, strangely featured the wonderful Asterix in Britain, crammed in the official version with affectionate jokes about the British way of life that probably infuriated the likes of Nigel Farage at an early age.
An edited-down version of Asterix the Gaul appeared in Valiant, the boys’ comic published by Fleetway Publications, beginning in the issue dated 16th November 1963. It appeared in colour on the back page and the story was transferred from Ancient Gaul to Britain for this version.
Set in the Britain of 43AD, the strip was originally called “Little Fred and Big Ed“. Little Fred and stone mason Big Ed lived in the village of Nevergivup, which was surrounded by eight Roman camps: Harmonium, Cranium, Pandemonium, Premium, Rostrum, Aquarium, Maximum and Luadanum. Their druid was called Hokus Pokus, not Getafix.
As the story progresses and Obelix is absent from the action, the strip was renamed “Little Fred, the Ancient Brit with Bags of Grit”. The story concluded in the issue dated 4th April 1964, replaced by “It’s a Dog’s Life“, a re-presentation of Jean Roba’s “Boule et Bill”, first published in Spirou, a strip reprinted in 2009 by Cinebook as Bill and Buddy, which prompted Lew Stringer to publish this comparison post in 2010.
Asterix also featured in Ranger, the British magazine for boys published in 1965 and 1966. This included a version of Asterix and the Big Fight, staring in the title’s first issue, with the action again transferred to Britain. Re-titled “Britons Never, Never, Never Shall Be Slaves!“, Asterix was renamed Beric the Bold and Obelix called Son of Boadicea.
They are referred to as the henchmen of Chief Caradoc and Son of Boadicea has a dog named Fido, not Dogmatix, and their druid is called Doric. The story concluded in Issue 40, at which point Ranger was merged with Look and Learn with that publication’s Issue 232, which saw the beginning of a version of Asterix and Cleopatra called In the “Days of Good Queen Cleo“.
Tintin in Eagle
In 1951, Eagle featured the first ever publication of Tintin in English, featuring a version of “King Ottakar’s Sceptre“, sub-titled “The strange story of a French boy Tintin and his dog Milou”. Tintin was described as French, not Belgian and in this early translation Snowy is still called Milou, his French name. This version of Tintin was the only UK translation not done by the incomparable Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper and Michael Turner.
ASTÉRIX®-OBÉLIX®/© 2016 LES ÉDITIONS ALBERT RENÉ / GOSCINNY-UDERZO