6 things to know about new Astérix album now on sale in France

The iconic French cartoon character returns for a new adventure with a new writer, against an ‘ambiguous’ positive thinking Roman villain

A view of an Astérix comic book
Astérix is world-famous and the latest album - the series’ 40th - is being printed in 20 languages
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A new album featuring the famous French cartoon Astérix is now on sale, after release on October 26. Here is everything you need to know about the latest instalment of the legendary bande dessinée.

Par Toutatis, le nouvel album Astérix sort aujourd'hui !
Inspirez et faites le plein de vibrations positives en découvrant le booktrailer d'Astérix L'Iris blanc, l'album qui va vous rendre serein...
https://t.co/drApBaYvdn pic.twitter.com/sxAS43Y7XX

— @asterixofficiel (@asterixofficiel) October 26, 2023

1. It is called L’Iris Blanc

The title, which translates as ‘The White Iris’ in English, is likely a nod to the new Roman character in the book (see below), who wears a white toga with a green cape as he embarks on his mission against the Gaulois village.

2. It is the 40th Astérix album

The album - which is the term used to describe each new graphic novel book - is the 40th in the series. It comes after Astérix et le Griffon, which came out in 2021.

The first ever book, Astérix le Gaulois, was published in 1961.

René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo created the albums together from 1961 to 1979, and in 2003 and 2009; while Mr Uderzo published eight volumes solo from 1980 to 2005. Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad continued the legacy with five albums from 2013 to 2021.

3. It comes from a new scriptwriter

The new album features a new surname after the word ‘Texte’ (words): Fabcaro. This is the pen name of the cartoon’s new writer, Fabrice Caro, who has taken over from previous scénariste Jean-Yves Ferri. Mr Ferri left to focus on personal projects.

Mr Caro worked with Didier Conrad, the artist - who himself took over from the late iconic cartoonist Albert Uderzo in 2013 - to recreate the globally-famous Gaulois world.

He is the writer of the acclaimed 2015 comic book Zaï zaï zaï zaï, which was turned into a film in 2021.

Mr Caro told FranceInfo that he understood the ‘large shoes he had to fill’, in reference to the iconic Astérix creator Mr Goscinny, the original writer of the series, who died in 1977.

He said: “Goscinny was and is my first and maybe greatest influence as a comic book writer. I read my first Astérix aged six or seven, and I still read them.

“Goscinny had a very complex sense of humour. He was inclusive, he brought people together. With him, you always laugh ‘with’, never ‘at’. It’s easier to be cruel, but Goscinny never was. It had a very clever sense of humour. He didn’t go towards the reader, he brought the reader with him.”

The writer said that he was very careful to continue Goscinny’s legacy.

He said: “I was obsessed with trying to make Astérix real, as much like the Goscinny era as possible. Yes, they came to me because they wanted me to bring my own touch to it, which I think I have a bit…but I didn’t want to make it a ‘Fabcaro’ character.”

4. It features a new character

The new album centres on Tulius Vicévertus, a Roman character who is described as Caesar’s doctor. He is a ‘wellbeing guru’ who brings ‘positive thinking’ to the group. However, despite appearing as a beacon of positive psychology, goodness, and happiness, he is actually a villain in disguise.

“He's a slightly ambiguous villain, compared with other villains,” said Mr Caro. “He has a gentle, seductive, charismatic side, but he also has a mission. Caesar is sending him to beat the Gauls.”

Voici le essais graphiques de Didier Conrad pour Vicévertus, le nouveau méchant d’#Astérix qui ressemble à un mix de BHL et Dominique de Villepin ! pic.twitter.com/GvJz91jTf4

— Jérôme Lachasse (@J_Lachasse) October 16, 2023

Mr Caro has said that the depiction is not intended to be critical of positive thinking.

He said: “It’s not a critique of positive thinking or other forms of personal development. It’s more these ‘gurus’ that annoy me. These people who, through seduction and charisma, try to profit from vulnerable people to gain power over them.”

5. Five million copies have been printed

The publisher, les éditions Albert René, is so far aiming to sell five million copies worldwide of the album, it has said. It sold this quantity of the previous album in 2021, across 17 languages, managing to sell almost two million copies in France alone in the first few months.

The recommended retail price is €10.50 per book.

6. It is available in 20 languages so far

The new album is being printed in 20 languages, three more than the previous album. Although best known in France, Astérix is popular globally, especially in Germany and Italy.

The series is also much-loved in Spain - where it is translated not only into Spanish but also Catalan, Basque, Galician, and even Asturleonese (from Asturias) - in the UK, and in the Scandinavian countries.

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