Earlier this year I was transiting through Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. I wandered into a bookstore and found an entire carousel devoted to the adventures of Asterix the Gaul. There went my trip budget.
Asterix and Obelix occupy a small corner of Gaul in the time of Julius Caesar. Thanks to the magic potion of the resident druid, Getafix (the names are almost the best part), the duo triumphantly defends the borders of their village against Caesar’s legions, to the legions’ great dismay (“I hate those Gauls.”).
My personal favorite is Asterix and Cleopatra where they travel to Egypt to help Getafix’s buddy Edifis win an architectural contest between Caesar and Cleopatra. Oh, and the Sphinx’s nose? Obelix did that. And the Egyptian characters speak in hieroglyphics. Don’t worry, translation provided.
I also love Asterix in Spain, a sort of “Ransom of Red Chief” homage where Asterix and Obelix come to the assistance of a young Iberian man who says, proudly and repeatedly, “I am the son of Huevos y Bacon.” Who wouldn’t want to help him out?
But they’re all great, especially the first ones with Goscinny writing and Uderzo illustrating. In this graphic novel series there is great storytelling, superb drawing, awful puns, wonderful sound effects (yes, really), and sneakily, insidiously, while you’re laughing, you’re learning. Go get some.