Asterix and the Picts (2013)

Asterix chez les Pictes

Presenting a pretentious thematic undercurrent…

Touches very delicately upon the subject of Scottish Independence, otherwise a standard “A&O in…” tale where they assist another like-minded independent village. e.g. Asterix in Britain, Corsica, Belgium.

Notable Nomenclature

  • Macaroon: Pictish clansman
  • Cammomila: his fiancee
  • Limitednumbus: census taker.
  • Fallacius: Roman Centurian
  • Pretentius: his deputy
  • Macmama, Macrocosm, Macadamia, Caltalpa, Arnica: more Pictish clanspeople.
  • Macrobiotix: Pictish druid.
  • Maccabaeus: rival Pictish clan leader; Roman collaborator.
  • Macabre and Machinations: rival Pictish clansmen.
  • Macvicar: Pictish priest.
  • Inauspicius: Roman guardsman.

Continuity; lack-thereof and other gaffes…

  • Geriatrix is an ancient mariner (p1).
  • As usual the Village women compare any visiting menfolk to their own partners and find the latter wanting (p5).
  • Instead the usual hammer-bashing Fulliautomatix trips Cacofonix off a pier into the sea (p13).
  • Nose-to-nose A&O barnies on pages 22, 24 and 33.
  • Unsubtle shield gag averted when Vitalstatistix refuses a ride (p5) but finally happens when he converts the shield to a skateboard (p43).

Cleverness and contemporaneity…

  • Limitednumbus is essentially a modern-day civil servant of the anally-retive type. (p4 on),
  • Macaroon builds a “Snow Nessie” (p10).
  • Prompted by Mrs. Geriatrix, the Village women make their partners dress in tartan (p11 on).
  • Redbeard quotes Mark Anthony via Shakespeare (p14).
  • It appears the the book was written around this joke: the Picts communicate in … pictograms! (Begins p16).
  • Obelix mistakes Nessie for an otter (p17).
  • Obelix mistakes Highland cattle for moles (p19),
  • The Picts have created a roundabout (p20)
  • The Picts carry around cabers as a matter of course (p21)
  • Inauspicius standing at the back mishears the password “Courage and Bravery” and “Porridge and Gravy” (p24).
  • The Pictish druid’s potion is Scotch whisky (p25).
  • Obelix is under the impression that all bards only exist to be bashed (p25).
  • A Roman Legionary misquotes Hamlet “The times are out of joint” (p27).
  • Bureaucracy has renamed “Guard Duty” as “Logistical Support” (p31).
  • Fallacius toasts the literal New Caledonia (p34).
  • Pictish tribal elections are decided on the basis of “who can get through an entire speech without being hit by a caber” (p35 on).
  • The “Pict Nationalist” fails to do this (p35).
  • Obelix becomes a mini-Atlas holding up the globe (p37).
  • The Pictish druid invents golf (p39).
  • Nice frame of Hadrian’s Wall in action (p40).

Obelix has a tender side…

  • Once again unable to handle being embraced by a woman (p32).

Classic Pegleg

His quotation happens out of earshot (p15).

Redbeard’s retort…

…is very sweary (p15).

Classic Inauspicius’s fellow guardsman

Verba volent = Spoken words fly away (from Latin proverb Verba volent, scripta manent = Spoken words fly away, written words remain). (p31)

Non-PC World

Centred on Scottish stereotypes – tartan, cabers, bagpipes, whisky, Loch Ness Monster all present and correct. “Take the high road” and , inevitably, “Och aye” also referenced.

Good or what?

Good

The first Asterix book written by Jean-Yvres Ferri and illustrated by Didier Conrad, and what a relief it is! The decision to hand over the reins to new talent is immediately justified with a story that harkens back to the Goscinny days and illustrations that might as well have been drawn by Uderzo himself. Not as good as the glory days but a vast improvement on some of the lacklustre solo Uderzo efforts .