Album 32 – Asterix and the Class Act

Rene Goscinny 

h7gb

Albert Uderzo

English Translations: Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge

Summary

A compilation of Asterix (and Obelix) short stories. Most were previously published in the French magazine Pilote, some are new.

Table 32.1. Asterix and the Class Act – Annotations

Page, Panel Comment
Page 1, Panels 1-11 The Vitalstatistix press conference is a caricature of a Charles de Gaulle press conference.
Page 3, Panel 6 Misogynist: Someone who has an exaggerated aversion towards women.
Page 4, Panel 4 The Battle of Gergovia took place in 52 BCE.
Page 6, Panel 1 “living the life of Rilix” = “the life of Riley” =  An easy and pleasant life. May also refer to an American radio sitcom of the 1940’s and 50’s starring William Bendix and a subsequent 1958 comic book.
Page 8, Panel 2 Astronomix is Asterix’s father, who first appeared in “Asterix and the Actress”.
Page 8, Panel 3 Obeliscoidix is Obelix’s father who first appeared in “Asterix and the Actress”.
Page 9, Panel 1 This story continues the plot element of Asterix and Obelix being born on the same day that we encountered in “Asterix and the Actress”. We also learn that Asterix and Obelix are younger than Chief Vitalstatistics, Fulliautomatix, Unhygenix, Cacophonix and, of course, Geriatrix.
Page 9, Panel 6 “And 35 years later…” = This establishes the age of our heros — they are 35 years old; “two other firm friends” = Refers to Goscinny and Uderzo.
Page 11, Panel 2 Caesar is pointing towards the New World when he says “Are you quite sure there’s nothing over there?”.
Page 11, Panel 6 This panel lampoons all the stereotypes of the French — goatee sporting, beret wearing, baguette-eating, Eiffel tower painters.
Page 12, Panel 11 “Dog biscuits had not yet been invented in 50 BC” = ???
Page 13, Panel 4 “Oh to be in Armorica now…” = A take-off on Robert Browning’s poem (1845) ‘Home-thoughts, from abroad’.
Page 15, Panel 8 “I am the emblem of the Gauls” = The Gallic rooster (French: le coq gaulois) is an unofficial national symbol of France as a nation.
Page 15, Panel 9 “Galli-narius Minus” = A play on the word Gallic. Probably also a reference to the insect species Microplitis Galinarius.
Page 16, Panel 10 Apparently, Dogmatix can speak the language of the birds.
Page 21, Panel 3 Kismet = Destiny or fate.
Page 27, Panel 2 This drawing is done in Walt Disney style.
Page 27, Panels 4-10  This drawing is done in Peanuts style.
Page 28, Panels 2-6 This drawing is done in Flash Gordon style.
Page 28, Panel 7 Sycophant: a person who tries to please someone in order to gain a personal advantage; Cinedological: ???; Necromantic: Magically calling up the dead; Symbiosis: Mutual relationship between two species in which both benefit; Dehortation: Dissuasion or advice against something; Cretinoidal: Having to do with a deformed and mentally retarded person; Microcephaly: Having a small head;Phylacterio-logical: An amulet or reminder (from the Hebrew word for either of two small leather boxes, each containing strips of parchment inscribed with quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures, one of which is strapped to the forehead and the other to the left arm; traditionally worn by Jewish men during morning worship, except on the Sabbath and holidays.); Empiricist: Relating to, or resulting from, experience, or experiment; Delerium: A temporary state of mental confusion and fluctuating consciousness resulting from high fever, intoxication, shock, or other causes. It is characterized by anxiety, disorientation, hallucinations, delusions, and incoherent speech.
Page 29, Panels 2-5 Done in the psychedelic style of ‘Yellow Submarine’.
Page 29, Panel 6 Plus-fours = Loosely tailored slacks cut 4 inches below the knee. They have been traditionally associated with sporting attire from the 1860s and onward, and are particularly associated with golf.
Page 32, Panel 6 RER = Something to do with the Parisian public transport system???
Page 33, Panel 6 “Carrier pigeon tower” = A reference to the Eiffel tower.
Page 39, Panel 3 “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” = “it is sweet and appropriate to die for your country” or “it is sweet and fitting to die for the fatherland” (Horace in Odes iii 2.13)
Page 39, Panel 4 “Victrix causa diis placuit, sed victa catoni” = “The victorious cause pleased the gods, the defeated one pleased Cato” (Lucan, Pharsalia 1, 118).
Page 39, Panel 5 “Nunc est bibendum” = now for drinks (Horace, Odes I.xxxvii.1)
Page 39, Panel 6 “Cur, quid quomodo” = Why what how.
Page 39, Panel 7 “Res, non verba” = “deeds, not words”.
Page 42, Panel 5 “Beati pauperes spiritu” = “Lucky are those of a poor spirit” (Vulgate, Matthew 3:5)
Page 50, Panel 7 Possibly real-life colleagues of Goscinny and Uderzo ???

Table 32.2. Asterix and the Class Act – Names

Name (in order of appearance)  Comment 
Semiautomatix Fulliautomatix’s father. I wonder if Fulliautomatix’s grandfather is named Manuel?
Unhealthix Unhealthy. Unhygienix’s father.
Chanticleerix A name given to a domestic cock, especially in fairy tales =  Middle English: from Old French Chantecler, the name of the cock in the fable Reynard the Fox, from chanter ‘sing, crow’ + cler ‘clear’.
Henna A coloring agent made from the green leaves of a henna plant which, when mixed with ingredients like tea, coffee, cloves, or tamarind, forms a paste.
Partipolitix Party politics.
Pierre Decoubertix Pierre Decoubertix. A reference to Pierre de Coubert (1883 – 1937), a French pedagogue and historian, best known as the founder of the modern Olympic games.
Inglorious Pithecanthropus Inglorious: Deserving or bringing disgrace or shame; Pithecanthropus: Pithecanthropus erectus was the name first given to the Homo erectus specimen, also known as “Java Man”, by its discoverer Eugene Dubois. The word “pithecanthropos” was derived from Greek roots and means ape man
Civilservix Civil Service: The entire body of those employed in the civil administration of a country at a local or national level. Military and elected officials are technically excluded from the term.
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Album 33 – Asterix and the Falling Sky

Rene Goscinny
Albert Uderzo

English Translations: Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge alb33gb

Copyright © 2005 Uderzo

Summary

Two rival outer space alien ships appear above the Gaulish village. The evil aliens Nagma want to know the secret of the great weapon the Gauls have, which is “known throughout the universe”, in order to conquer more planets. However a Tadilsvian called Toon comes to the village with the mission to destroy the weapon.A break with the more or less historical setting in previous albums. The aliens are styled on the Walt Disney and Marvel Comics superheroes of the American comic book style on one side, and futuristic robot and insect-like Japanese manga style on the other. Arguably, the most politically controversial Asterix book. The book caused a controversy when it was released. It was perceived as having an anti-Bush (George W.) and anti-American message possibly because it was released in the year following the controversial invasion of Iraq by America for supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Table 33.1. Asterix and the Falling Sky – Annotations

Page, Panel Comment
Page 0, Panel 0 Dedication to Bruno Uderzo. This is probably the only Asterix book dedicated to someone.
Page 2, Panel 10 Notice Dogmatix looking at the cockerel. See Asterix and the Class Act.
Page 6, Panel 5 Tadsilweny: An anagram of ‘Walt Disney’.
Page 6, Panel 6 “Shrinking violet” = (informal) A shy or retiring person. (alt.) A reference to the DC comic book Superhero of the same name.
Page 6, Panel 8 “Take the Mickey” = To tease, to ridicule. Also shortened to take the mick. An abbreviated form of the Cockney rhyming slang take the mickey bliss, meaning ‘take the piss’. The usage here is also a reference to Mickey Mouse — a popular character of Walt Disney.
Page 7, Panel 1 Superclone = A caricature of Superman. Interestingly, in the case of Superman, his super abilities come from Earth’s gravity being weaker than on Krypton. In the case of Superclone, Earth’s gravity is said to be stronger than on Tadsilweny. The face is a caricature of Arnold Schwarzenegger known for his action films.
Page 8, Panel 4 “Reclone him,…, as either a spider or a bat superclone” = A reference to two other popular superheros — Spiderman and Batman.
Page 8, Panel 6 “You able do me little favour” = I think this pidgin English is intentional. Obelix doesn’t never speaks in such an ungrammatical manner.
Page 8, Panel 6 “Big girl’s tunica” = “Big girl’s blouse” = (informal) A male displaying perceived feminine characteristics through actions which cause his peers to think less of him.
Page 9, Panel 6 “If I had a hammer” = The Hammer Song (words and music by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger).
Page 13, Panel 2 “all spaced out” = Spaced Out is a little-known Canadian animated series about the Martins — a family from Earth living in a space station-clad neighbourhood, which is built and owned by a mysterious “Krach” corporation. The whole station is a gigantic experiment made by Krach — its inhabitants are isolated from the outside world and are from time to time a unconscious subject of corporation’s marketing; “a galaxy of 50 stars” = a reference to the 50 stars in the US flag representing the 50 states.
Page 13, Panel 4 “Galactic council of the wise” = A reference to the United Nations.
Page 13, Panel 4 “the Nagmas” = An anagram of ‘Mangas’. Manga (literally meaning ‘Involuntary sketches’) is the Japanese term for ‘comic book’ or graphic novel.
Page 17, Panel 1 “planet Gmana” = Another anagram of ‘Manga’.
Page 22, Panel 9 Notice the Mickey Mouse-ears on the Cyberats.
Page 34, Panel 2 “Nihil conveniens decretis eius” = Nothing inconsistent in his??
Page 36, Panel 1 “Anacreontic” = Celebrating love and drinking. After Anacreon, a Greek poet in the 6th century BCE, noted for his songs in praise of love and wine. The US national anthem ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is set to the tune of the English song ‘To Anacreon in Heaven’ which was the ‘constitutional song’ of the Anacreontic Society, a gentlemen’s music club in London.
Page 44, Panel 5 “Doo aah diddy diddy diddy doo” = Reference to the song “Doo aah diddy diddy” originally performed by Manfred Mann.

Table 33.2. Asterix and the Falling Sky – Names

Name (in order of appearance) Comment 
Polyantus Primula polyantha — florists’ primroses; considered a complex hybrid derived from oxlip, cowslip, and common primrose.
Toon A popular shortening of the word Cartoon.
Hubs An anagram of Bush.
Akoaotaki Anagram of Takao Aoki, author and creator of the Manga “Beyblade”.
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Geography – The World According to Asterix: Cities and Countries

In 50 BC countries were known by different names.

In 50 BC most countries were known by a different name.

Table 1.1. Cities and countries that appear in Asterix comics and their modern names.

Location Current Name. Comments
Agylla A city on the east coast of Corsica. See map at the beginning of Asterix in Corsica.
Aleria A Roman fortress and port on the east coast of Corsica. See map at the beginning of   Asterix in Corsica.
Alesia Capital of the Gaulish tribe of Mandubians, on the Mount Auxois, near Alise-Sainte-Reine in the Cote-d’Or in Burgundy. A Celtic hill fort and center of Celtic resistance where Vercingetorix surrendered to Caesar in 52 BC. The surrender marked the beginning of the complete romanization of the country. For years nobody could agree on the exact location of Alesia (this angle is played well in the Asterix books). Some people were convinced that the historic Alesia was near the small town of Alaise, in the Franche-Comtè, while others thought it was in a town barely larger, called Alise-Sainte-Reine in Burgundy near the upper Seine, near the hill of Vix. The debate could have continued for years, but the believers of the second version were lucky in having Napoleon on their side. He funded archaeological studies to verify his hypothesis. The campaign undertaken between 1861 and 1865 near Alise-Sainte-Reine unearthed enough evidence for this town to claim the name of Alesia.
Alexandria Merchant port at the western top of the Nile. Egypt’s second largest city. Founded in 323 BC by Alexander the Great. Most of Asterix and Cleopatra takes place here.
Armorica Western France. Home of Asterix’s village. An ancient and literary name for the northwest part of France, especially Brittany. In 56 BC, Julius Caesar conquered the region of Brittany for Rome. This addition to the Roman Empire was known by two names: Armorica, a Romanization of the Celtic word for seaside, and Gallia Lugdunensis. (In 440 BCE the Gaulish town of Ys, in Armorica (modern Brittany), is overwhelmed by a great flood, and submerged beneath the sea — the foundation of many such legends of lost cities.)
Arvenia Central France (now Auvergne). The Arvenians rose up against Caesar in 53 BC. This is the location of Asterix and the Chieftains Shield.
Aquitania SW France.
Babylon Ancient city located on the banks of lower Euphrates (Southern Iraq). It was the capital of the Babylonian empire in the 3rd Century BC. Destroyed in 482 BC by Persian king Xerxes I.
Belgica NE France / Belgium.
Brittany (Armorica) Brittany (Armorica (q.v.)) is Celtic not because it resisted Romanization, but because it was settled by Britons fleeing the Germanic invasion of Britain. The modern Breton language is most closely related to Welsh and Cornish.
Briton Britain.
Caledonia Scotland.
Carnac City on the south coast of Britanny.
Carnutes, Forest of Place where Gaulish druids used to meet to hold counsel and resolve disputes. Julius Caesar mentions this in his writings.
Celtica West France.
Condatum Rennes, France. Large town in 50 BC.
Corsica Island in western Mediterranean.
Durocortum Reims. The center of the Champage region. Asterix and Obelix take an amphora of the beverage in Asterix and the Banquet.
Durovernum Canterbury in the south-eastern tip of England.
Gaul Formerly Gallia. An ancient region of western Europe south and west of the Rhine River, west of the Alps, and north of the Pyrenees. Corresponding roughly to modern-day France and Belgium. The Romans extended the designation to include northern Italy, particularly after Julius Caesar’s conquest of the area in the Gallic wars (58-51 BCE). The historical name for the region where Celts lived from the 6th century B.C. It seems only Armorica was able to conserve its Celtic culture after the Roman invasion.
Gergovia Site of battle in 52 BC where Vercingetorix beat Julius Caesar (temporarily), in France. Fortified town of the Arvenians. South of Clermont-Ferrand.
Goth(Germania) Germany.
Helvetia Switzerland. Well, not completely, but…
Hibernia Ireland.
Hispania Spain(the Spanish are Iberians).
Londinium London.
Lugdunum Lyons, France. Capital of Roman Gaul.
Lusitania Portugal.
Lutetia Paris (or actually the city on an island which expanded to become Paris). Greatest city in Gaul. Founded as a fishing village, it was captured and fortified by the Romans in 52 BCE. Clovis I made it the capital of his kingdom after CE 486, and Hugh Capet (Frank invader) established it as the capital of France after his accession to the throne in 987. In Asterix Leutatia mostly signifies the city as opposed to the village and all the consequent contraptions like traffic jams, height of fashion and modern lifestyle.
Massilia Marseilles, Mediterranean port in France. The Romans Latinized it to Massila.
Mesopotamia Land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, today part of Iraq.
Nicae Nice, France.
Nubia Africa(South of Egypt).
Phoenicia Coastal region from the eastern Mediterranean to Jordan and Lebanon.
Provincia SE France.
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