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.

Notable Nomenclature…

  • 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).

Non-PC World

  • 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).

Classic Pegleg…

Non licet omnibus adire corinthum = It is not given to everyone to reach Corinth. (A paraphrase of Horace, Epistles I.xvii.35.)

Redbeard’s Retort…

‘Well, what about it?’

Chubby-cheeked bloke…

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.