The Asterix Phenomenon And How It All Began

First appeared: 29 October 1959 in Pilote magazine

1st comic bookAsterix the Gaul in 1961: 6,000 copies

350,000,000 comic books sold worldwide766 Eiffel Towers stacked on top of each other.

Placed end to end, the books would stretch twice around the Earth, and would weigh 12,600 tonnes (i.e. 400 lorries weighing 35 tonnes each.)

34 comic books

110 translations (languages and dialects)

8 animated films

4 live action films

1 theme park: Le Parc Astérix

100 licenses

Asterix’s Story

It all began in 1959, when we were on the balcony of Albert Uderzo’s council flat in Bobigny. There were only three months until the trial edition of Pilote was due out, and the two authors René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo were really under pressure: they had to create a completely original comic strip series based on French culture. They browsed through the history of France to find inspiration to create their heroes. And suddenly, the pair of them exploded with laughter: Eureka! They decided on the period of the Gauls. This is how Asterix came to make his first appearance on 29 October 1959 in Pilote magazine. This comic strip series was soon to have a cult following: The Adventures of Asterix the Gaul.

René Goscinny remembers:
“We were at Uderzo’s flat one afternoon, looking for an idea that was both funny and unusual. It didn’t take long for both Uderzo and I to agree: we would choose the history of the Gauls as our theme, a period which had been strangely overlooked in France and seemed to be a subject with plenty of possibilities! Taking our inspiration from the name of Vercingetorix which we remembered from our first history lessons at school, we named our characters Asterix, Obelix, Getafix and other names ending with ‘ix’. Our Romans would have names ending in ‘us’, such as ‘Poisonus Fungus’. Their towns would have names ending in ‘um’, such as Totorum, Aquarium, Compendium.”

Over 50 years later, the success continues: “I have no idea why it works so well” said Albert Uderzo.

The magic potion of René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo includes: a good dose of humour, a dash of humility, exceptional character, intelligent narration, a stroke of genius, plenty of friendship, strong drive, a sense of camaraderie and the enormous combined talent of these two creators, gifted with a precise sense of observation, as well as that of mockery.

First Sketches Of The Gauls

Asterix And Obelix Today