Asterix versus America

Over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, I had the opportunity to read two comics that focused on elections.
Oddly, I didn’t specifically select these comics with the knowledge that they both had to do with politics. Instead, I decided to read up on European humor comics.
The first in the pile was “Asterix and Caesar’s Gift” by Rene Gocinny and Albert Uderzo, originally published in 1974. The story focuses on the election of a new headman in Asterix’s little village and the whorish ways politicians get votes.
I’ve never read any previous Asterix books, though I’ve known of the character’s existence for some time now. You see I just dig checking out non-superhero, non-American comics.
For the most part, when you go looking for something like that, you’ll find the pseudo-intellectual comic stories reprinted in books like “Heavy Metal” or offered by American imprints and repackagers like NBM or Vertigo.
But to me, that stuff’s all the same. Boring, needlessly verbose, filled with unnecessary eroticism and overly violent.
Instead, I long for fun stuff that you can read in a lawn chair in the sun and sipping a soda. Whereas when you’re reading the “Heavy Metal”-style of comics you feel like you should be sitting in the bathroom of a seedy motel and shooting heroin.
Anyway this being my first introduction to Asterix, I was quite amused. According to the Asterix entry on Wikipedia, this was fairly atypical story for our little Gaul — filled with puns, witty observations and magic potions. The Wikipedia entry is quite detailed too, attesting to the character’s worldwide appeal — as his adventures have been translated into animation, video games and live action movies.
The art — and the character designs in particular — made for an equally enjoyable time. I’ve never heard much about Alber Uderzo here in America, but the man has cartooning skills rivaling Carl Barks of Uncle Scrooge fame.
Asterix comics aren’t big in America. We’re just too focused on superheroes and vampires, and that’s a real shame because I’d much rather hand an 8-year-old a copy of an Asterix comic than I would a Batman.


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