The Sky May Fall on Your Head Tomorrow, but Tomorrow Never Comes

“Basic humour, or slapstick humour, if you want to call it that, is watching a fat man slip on a banana peel; that’s the classic definition. Satire comes in when it’s made clear that the fat man is a corporation official who has been cheating public funds for his own ends, and that banana peel is there because he hasn’t paid the sweepers enough to clean up the garbage… and he is hoisted by his own banana, so to speak.
This is part of the ethics of satire: that it’s always David taking on a Goliath. You do not target someone who is politically, economically, or in any way, weaker than you.”
– Jug Surayia

Some don’t bother with the idea of an evolving self, some are hipsters – for whom “taste” is simply a weapon of social judgement – and there are some whose tastes evolve with time, exposure, awareness, and self-growth. For the latter, there are very few instances of artistic expression that when revisited after substantial growth seem equally, if not more, enlightening and layered. Asterix comics are a perfect example: you can read the entire collection when you’re ten and have it as your favourite comic book series. You can re-read it again a decade later and have an entirely different experience, and find it to be your favourite comic book series yet again.

Uderzo’s eye for aesthetics and Gosciny’s incredible wit, coupled with Anthea Bell and Dereck Hockridge’s ‘translating kit’, brings to life a series that uses humour and irony to initiate contemporary social commentary. What appears to be the incessant misadventures of the Romans to a child’s mind defined by slapstick humour and explosive violence, is actually so much more for the ‘grown-up’. Owing to the fact that comics were not considered to be merely child’s play in France, Asterix’s success could be traced back to the underlying satire that remains hidden in almost every panel – each an easter egg that you can only discover with age.

Though we have aged, and though we have managed to spot a lot more in the 20 odd years that have gone by since we chanced upon this incredible Gaulish village, we know that there is still so much more that remains unknown… and perhaps two more decades isn’t quite enough to excavate those hidden treasures. But as we explore more it is only fair to share some of our favourite revelations so far.


My Precious

The first comic book itself, Asterix the Gaul, features a tiny tribute to Tolkien’s universe: the power hungry humans (Romans) are all plotting to use the one ring (magic potion) for themselves, and the only community that couldn’t care less about wealth and power, are the ones regarded by the rest as rural, mindless Shirefolk (the Gauls we love; add ‘savage’ for French effect). And hence it is up to a hobbit (Asterix) and his fat, perpetually-hungry-and-loyal friend (Obelix) who save the world (well, village) from Sauron (Caesar)’s wrath. Frodo and Sam have been spiced up, naturally, and the ring-maker is technically Getafix, not Caesar, but this one panel makes it all worth it. This is likely a coincidence, but nonetheless fun to think about.


Asterix the Gaul


Holiday Homes

If you aren’t already, once you’re spending your own money (be it pocketmoney or hard-earned) at feeble attempts to travel, this blatant jab will hit you like a hot iron rod on your cheek. A visit to crowded, dangerous Lutetian markets just to buy curios and specialities doesn’t seem particularly inviting in this day; mountains and lakes seem quite alluring, on the other hand. Asterix in Switzerland is an action packed book filled with all the well-done Swiss cliches like cheese, clocks, and yodelling. But the best part? It features an orgy every few pages!


Asterix in Switzerland


Left or right?


Asterix and the Laurel Wreath


This is a classic layered scene – it is two rivals battling over ego, political ideologies, and the lens through which everything is being looked at is wealth. The nemesis is the classic in-law: Homeopathix, and the foul party at home, the one with the in laws’ blood: Impedimenta. Homeopathix’s irresistible urge to show off his wealth (and then pass it off as “unpretentious, modest wine”) will be all too familiar with the working class, especially those with at least a few years of experience behind them. It could very well be that Goscinny was reminded of being infuriated by a similar situation while writing this (warning: absolute garbage, ignore). In any case, this panel from the rioting Asterix and the Laurel Wreath earned Vitatstatistix a special spot in my heart:


Asterix and the Laurel Wreath



Not much need be said about this, from Asterix in Corsica.


Asterix in Corsica

Asterix in Corsica

Asterix in Corsica


Asterix in the USA

Very aptly shown in Asterix and the Great Crossing, the Vikings/Norsemen landed in North America quite a bit earlier than the English. And Herendethelessen, the first to land, utters a patent and fitting American phrase too!


Asterix and the Great Crossing


And what a marvellous tribute this is!


Asterix and the Great Crossing


First I Need to Make Money

While the Laurel Wreath only had an intro scene about it, Obelix and Co. is in its entirety a rather sharp jab at consumerism and the obsession with wealth and money. The first set of panels showcases the evil rooted behind it: ruthless marketing of the pointless to the mindless.


Obelix and Co.


The second one shows its after-effects: Dragon fever; giving up of personality-defining favourite activities in the pursuit of wealth.


Obelix and Co.


Personally, I think I’d quite like to own a menhir. (Brace for a startup planning to sell menhirs.)


And Now for Some Rock’n’Roll

“Good rock music always tends to be around” – Dave Davies, The Kinks

We’ve noticed that minor characters – especially the pirates in Asterix – have been christened after some of the most influential rock musicians of all times. We’ve also noticed the liberal use of “Paul, John, George and Ringo” along with a bout of punk love in the recent Asterix and the Picts. And of course, we have seen Cacofonix depart the comforts of the Gaulish village in pursuit of a career in popular music. In Asterix and the Secret Weapon, Cacofonix takes (song)writer’s refuge in a treehouse in the Armorican forest, and Uderzo illustrates how even singing The Beatles won’t stop the sky from falling on your head.


Asterix and the Secret WeaponAsterix and the Secret Weapon



- by Karn
Mostly found playing the electric guitar or video games, Sloth likes hiding behind screens.
- and Solo
Writer, photo-taker, procrastinator. She is the quintessential cat lady who isn’t your regular breed of sane.