Asterix and the Normans (1967)
Astérix et les normands
Presenting a pretentious thematic undercurrent…
Urban-life versus country-life debate as represented by Parisian tearaway Justforkix who takes a rest-break in the Gaulish village.
Whilst Lutetia is seemingly all clubs, variety palaces and all-night merrymaking, the Gaulish village rural lifestyle of early mornings and hard graft is enlivened by the occasional rustic ball.
- Postaldistrix: village postman (where else he delivers to is anyone’s guess).
- Doublehelix: Vitalstatistix’s brother.
- Justforkix: Vitalstatistix city-dwelling nephew.
- Olaf Timandahaf : Norman chieftain.
- Nescaf , Psychpaf, Epitaf, Cenotaf, Transportcaf, Chiffchaff, Riffraff, Fotograf, Caraf, Toocleverbyhaf, Operatix, Accoustix, Polyfonix, Harmonix: Norman warriors.
- Oleaginus: gauche Roman legionary.
Continuity; lack-thereof and other gaffes…
- Dogmatix first shows his morbid obsession with felled trees (p19).
- The scale of the village beyond regular characters is suggested. Several named Gaulish characters appear for the first and only time.
- First adventure in which Romans do not play the villains. (Kessler)
Cleverness and contemporaneity…
- Some villagers have ordered a mail-order catalogue called ‘Arms and Armour’. It comes in multiple carved slabs (p1).
- Justforkix drives an Italian sports chariot, which presented as speedy but less than solid (pp 2 and 14).
- Justforkix amuses a village audience with his ‘Rolling Menhirs’ medley (p3). Later Cacofonix premieres the classic ‘Rock around the Horologium’ (p39).
- The rock-loving Justforkix enjoys Cacofonix’s singing (p4).
- A Roman patrol attempts to escape bashings by purposefully avoiding encounters then, later, filing erroneous reports in triplicate (p22).
- When Obelix goes in search of Cacofonix he passes an ‘Uneven Road’ traffic sign (p31).
- The passage-of-time during Obelix and Cacofonix’s journey to the Norman camp is indicated by the bard’s rendition of ‘This old Man’. In this extended version the titular elder plays at least Centum Quingaginta Septum (One hundred and fifty-seven). (p32.)
- The Normans use Air-traffic-control terminology as they launch Justforkix off a cliff (p35).
- Cacofonix is duly awarded for his role in this adventure with an entertainment-slot at the feast (p44).
- A bound-up Fulliautomatix takes the bard’s place at the feast. Presumably he needed the assistance of others to tie him up like that and to insert the parsley (p44).
Obelix has a tender side…
Needs Asterix to ask a girl to dance with him, whereupon he turns purple (p3).
Good or What?
This is because the central premise – that the Normans believe they will learn how to fly if the discover the secret of fear – isn’t at all convincing. Also the too-good realisation of the wet-fish Justforkix ensures that he is just as annoying to the reader as he is to the villagers. Good in parts, though: Cacofonix’s musical tour of the provinces is, quite literally, a hoot.