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.
- 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).
His quotation happens out of earshot (p15).
…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)
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?
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 .