Asterix the Gaul is the first volume of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations).
All Gaul is divided into three parts. No, four — for one small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the Roman invaders.... These were the opening words of the first Asterix book – a blatant attempt by the French Ministry of Propaganda to associate the current French population (of Roman origin) with the warlike, Celtic Gauls and so expiate the guilt over surrendering in 1945 to a bunch of sausage-chomping half-wits precisely 36 minutes after declaring war.
Centurion Crismus Bonus, keen to discover the secret of the Gauls' superhuman strength, sends a spy into the village. The Roman's identity is revealed when he speaks Latin, sacrifices a goat to Jupiter and has sex with all the young boys. But he discovers the existence of the magic potion brewed by the Druid, Getafix a sort of mystic hippy living in a VW camper and in a constant migration from Stonehenge to the DSS. With that potion, Crismus Bonus believes that he could overthrow Julius Caesar, and become Emperor himself. So, he kidnaps Getafix to get the recipe and because he likes a man with a beard - gives him something to hold on to.
Asterix joins the druid in captivity, because he’s heard that there’s a lot of hot, man-on-man action in stir. He and the druid demand a list of hard-to-find ingredients for the magic potion, hen’s teeth, stripey paint, Nintendo Wii etc. Though magical, this turns out to be a very different brew — an extremely potent potion that causes the testes and penis of the drinker to begin growing at a rapid pace. The Romans eventually convince Getafix to make an antidote, and Getafix does make it. At the same time, he also prepares a small quantity of the real magic potion for Asterix to drink. The two then begin bashing their way out of the Roman camp, pausing only to put their hands up the togas of the defeated Roman legionaries. As they are attempting to escape, they are stopped by a huge army of Roman reinforcements and allow themselves to be captured again in the hope of a bit more Abu Gharib style humiliation.
When Crismus Bonus returns to his tent, he finds Julius Caesar there checking on the condition of his private area. Upon meeting Asterix and Getafix, he learns of Crismus Bonus' intentions. He then frees Asterix and Getafix for giving him the information, while reminding them that they will always have Paris. As punishment, he sends Crismus Bonus away to Outer Mongolia, where there is a cheese-famine.
Because this is the first album, many story points and characterizations are still in their formative stages. In fact, due to its original, serial nature, some develop and change even as the story progresses:
- The Roman second-in-command changes abruptly a few pages into the story, possibly because Uderzo was so wasted he just couldn’t be bothered to turn back a few pages to look at what he’d drawn before.
- Getafix begins the story living in a cave in the forest and looking much like a stereotypical caveman. He also uses a walking stick. It is thought that in this instance Uderzo hadn’t recovered from a hang-over and thought that he was working on the Flintstones.
- Obelix is seen carrying an axe in his first appearance. It is never seen again, possibly he ate it. He is satisfied with helping Asterix eat just one boar between them when everyone knows what a fat, gluttonous gannet he is, his character being based on Valery Giscard D’estang
- Asterix and other villagers appear to be using the potion constantly, yet seeing the potion being made is viewed as an event. Again, this is thought to be because, though generally high, Uderzo never saw his heroin being prepared.
- Fulliautomatix is seen working metal with his bare hands. He also bears no resemblance to his later appearances. This is because Uderzo was French and so couldn't give a flying fuck what anyone else thought.
- Cacofonix the bard plays and calls a dance, and at the end is seated at the table at the feast. Later albums established a running gag where he is never allowed to sing, and is tied up and gagged at feasts to prevent this. But, you know, like maybe this was the first time they’d heard him sing, or something
- One of the few books where we get to see some of Getafix's other tricks, namely, the hair-growth potion and its antidote. Uderzo later admitted that this was due to Getafix being issued one of the first ASBOs which prohibited him from unlicensed pharmacy except for the super strength potion.
- When he is first introduced in the prologue, Caesar has a completely different look than he has in the rest of the series (NOTE: when he appears in the end of the album he already has his new look; this can be seen as an error, or not, please yourself)
The story was first published as a serial in Pilote, a French comic magazine founded by Goscinny and a few other comic artists he'd met in rehab.
The first page appeared in the promotional issue #0, distributed on June 1, 1959, and the story was serially published in the magazine from issue #1 (October 12, 1969) until issue #16,738 (July 14, 1990). A small head of Asterix first appeared on the cover of #9 (December 24, 1959), and a full-frontal nude Asterix cover was used on #21 (March 17, 1960) leading to a great increase in interest from the growing cartoon-midget-sex fetish movement.
The next story, Asterix and the Golden Sickle, started in issue #42 (August 11, 1960) and just went on and on, it probably hasn't finished yet.
Asterix le Gaulois was published in July 1961 by Dargaud in the so-called "Pilote collection" with a print of 600,000,000 copies, an optimistic number later regarded as somewhat of a mistake. A Dutch translation was attempted in 1966 but abandoned due to lack of phlegm, and other languages followed soon after.
The English translation by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge was first published in 1969 by Brockhampton Press. Bell, Hockridge and the board of Brockhampton were soon arrested and shot for treason.
- This album establishes the convention that all Gaulish male names end in -ix, and all Roman male names end in -us. Interestingly, apart from Goscinny and Uderzo, all modern French names end in –garlic-stinking asswipe.
- Throughout the entire Asterix series, the Roman legionaries use the wrong weaponry and armor for their period. For instance, their armour is the lorica segmentata, which was the standard during the Roman Empire era; in Caesar's time, chainmail armor (the lorica hamata) was in use. Also, the real-life Roman legionaries used pila (javelins) instead of spears, and they usually carried two of them. But hey, this is a comic strip for children and retards - French retards at that.
The book was adapted into a film, which was released in 1967. Goscinny and Uderzo were not consulted during the making of the film because they were in Martinique abusing under age girls. The first they heard of it was a few months after their release from the Bastille, when they were shown an early version of it. It was generally not well received, and a planned adaptation of Asterix and the Golden Shower, made by the same animation team, was scrapped due to lack of colouring pencils.