Friday, 13 November 2009

Graham Marks: Happy Birthday Asterix!

Jasmine Fassl, our children’s events manager, and Graham Marks, children’s and young adult author, tell us all about their love, and experience with Asterix the Gaul on the occasion of his 50th birthday!

I have always been an Asterix fan. My dad is a huge comic book geek, though the only ones we were allowed to read when we were little, were Lucky Luke and Asterix. Every Saturday morning, for about an hour or two after waking up my siblings and I would lie in bed, reading comic books. I had favourites at certain times, stories I’d read over and over again, before letting my siblings ‘borrow’ that particular book. I grew up in Vienna, so read the stories in German, but by now I have gotten used to reading the new books in English. At first it was odd – some characters have different names, with the exception of Asterix and Obelix of course, and I didn’t really like it. I am ok with it now, though it took me a while. For me it adds something to the experience – and I am rather (geekily) proud that know the little differences…I am very jealous of Graham Marks who went to Paris for the 50th birthday of Asterix, here is what he says:

Crayonné original de la couverture d’Astérix et Latraviata (détail) Albert Uderzo
40 x 50 cm
Collection particulière © 2009 Les Éditions Albert René / Goscinny-Uderzo
Graham Marks:
As day trips go, this was pretty special: destination Paris, for the 50th birthday of Asterix the Gaul! The venue, the Musée de Cluny, near the Sorbonne, was completely appropriate and itself worth the trip, being a walled, gothic-fronted building attached to the remains of an actual Gallo-Roman thermal baths!
From the moment we walked in to the bath’s frigidarium (cold room), its vaulted roof some thirty feet above us, it was one marvel after another: here were the original notes Goscinny had made when the idea for the series was coming to life, right next to Uderzo’s preliminary sketches (Asterix started out much taller, Obelix a lot thinner); on a plinth inside a glass case, there’s Goscinny’s manual typewriter, on which he wrote the script you can see alongside the stunning black and white artwork Uderzo then produced from it, his delicate brushwork and his fine, detailed penmanship bursting with life. Long live Asterix, and many happy returns!

The new Asterix book – The Golden Book – isn’t a traditional Asterix story. It’s more like a short story collection, with a scrap book feel. It’s a book for fans with lots of tributes and references to older Asterix adventure as well as classic works of art like the Mona Lisa and artists like Leonardo da Vinci, though my favourite is Asterix as a Marsupilami (after a comic by Andre Franquin) – it’s inspired! It was a huge joy to read and the artwork is exquisite.
Unfortunately I don’t own the complete collection, but I still lie in bed sometimes on a Saturday morning reading Asterix comic books…

Want to find out more? Here’s the official Asterix website:

Other news:

Today is the voting deadline for the Royal Mail Awards 2009.
If you're registered to vote
make sure you do so by 5.30pm today!

Anthony Horowitz was in Edinburgh last night as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, to promote his latest novel Crocodile Tears.

The Gruffalo has been voted the Nation's Favourite Bedtime Story by listeners of the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2.

The winners of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize are Mr Pusskins Best in Show by Sam Lloyd and Grubtown Tales: Stinking Rich and Just Plain Stinky by Philip Ardagh, illustrated by Jim Paillot.


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