Asterix in Belgium (1979)
Astérix chez les Belges
Presenting a pretentious thematic undercurrent…
Philosophical debate about the nature of bravery, slightly reminiscent of the Norman’s quest for fear in Asterix and the Normans.
- Pseudonymous: legionary.
- Beefix and Brawnix: Belgian chieftains.
- Melancholix, Alcoholix, Potbellix: Belgian warrors.
- Bonanza: Beefix’s wife.
- Saintlouisblus: legionary.
- Wolfgangamadeus: legate.
- Monotonous: Senator.
- Botanix and Cauliflowa: husband and wife of EEC frontier family. Parents of Manikin Pis.
Continuity; lack-thereof and other gaffes…
- The beginning of a trait in late Asterix of too much annotation within the text. Here the book’s literary references are identified on the title page.
- Veritable continuity bumper-pack to open book: fishfight, unsubtle-shield-gag and bard-tied-up joke all-in one frame (p1).
- First time Vitalstatistix has accompanied A&O on an adventure since Asterix and the Chieftain’s Shield (not counting Asterix at the Olympic Games where all the men accompany them.
- Pseudonymous is from A&O’s old legion (see Asterix the Legionary).
- More tension between Julius and the Roman Senate (pp 25 and 26).
- The “Manikin Pis” sequence is the first use of toilet humour in Asterix.
Cleverness and contemporaneity…
- Compared to Belgium, being detailed to the Gaulish village is a “rest cure” to Romans (p5).
- Vitalstatistix predicts Brittany becoming a tourist resort (p5).
- Asterix waxes self-referential when he says that they can’t have a feast because it’s too early in the story and the bard is still with them (p6). Obelix will continue the trait in p 7.
- Pseudonymous tags along with A, O & Vitastatistix for a while (pp 15 and 16).
- A typical end-of-adventure type banquet – replete with boars, chickens and trifles en-masse – is classed by the Belgians as ‘nothing lavish’ (p17).
- A particularly bloody Roman-bashing is veiled by a floral curtain (p20).
- Saintlouisblus unwittingly inspires the invention of chips (p21). Obelix later adds fish to the equation (p42).
- The numbers of the Gaulish/Belgian troops has become exaggerated somewhere down the line (p24).
- ‘O stuff your brassica oleracea capitata’ is deleted by the Senate reporter from the list of Julian classical quotations. ‘I shall go, I shall see and I shall conquer’ stays in though (pp 25 and 26).
- The Thompson twins from the (Belgian) Tintin books make a cameo appearance as messengers; and carry their usual design of speech-bubble.
- A&O encounter Manikin Pis, subject of Brussels’ urinating statue. Appropriately enough, he is first encountered spending a penny and has to go again almost immediately afterwards (pp 29-30).
- Manukin Pis predicts the European parliament in Brussels (p29).
- ‘You know what you can do with that <expletive> board of yours?’ is also deemed unsuitable as a classical quotation (p34).
- Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx makes cameo appearence as a messenger (p35).
- Anachronistc reference to Waterloo (p35).
- Somewhat anachronistic reference to sandwiches (p36).
- Byron, Milton and Shakespeare lines quoted/misquoted/modified as frame captions (pp36-40).
- Centurian quotes Wellington “Publish and be Damned”.
- Belgian banquet drawn in the manner of Pieter Breughal the elder (p43).
- Obelix takes some beers away with him (p44).
- Cacofonix tied to tree as per usual (p44).
- Belgian men depicted throughout as fat gluttons to out-Obelix Obelix. The women are far more shapely.
- Belgian landscape depicted as entirely flat (p16).
- Botanix and Cauliflowa’s meal is comprised entirely of beer and Brussels Sprouts (p30).
Obelix has a tender side…
- One suspects he would turn beetroot red if he noticed the voluptuous Belgian waitress complenting his table manners (p17).
- Misinterprets the phrase ‘Fat of the Land’ (p32).
Non licet omnibus adire corinthum = It is not given to everyone to reach Corinth. (A paraphrase of Horace, Epistles I.xvii.35.)
‘Well, what about it?’
He’s the carefree, disinterested, strolling legionary who is slapped up by Obelix on page 4.
Good or what?
Good to What
Transitional book between Goscinny/Uderzo and solo Uderzo. The book was illustrated years after Goscinny’s death; presumably the authors would previously have work on the visual realisation together. The result is a curious “Asterix in …” adventure where there is really very little said about the “in”. The Belgians are seriously under-characterised and this is compensated by cramming in every last modern-day-Belgium reference. There is some fabulous humour at the expense of Julius Caesar, though.