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Asterix, French Comic Hero

The last bastion of French pride.

The poor old French. Once the dominant world culture with their own empire and the aristocrats of Russia taking French lessons to sound sophisticated at their salon parties, now their colonies are gone and they’re just another star on the European flag.

But holding out against the forces of cultural assimilation is the plucky comic figure, Asterix, who just turned 50. Just as the indomitable Gauls continue to resist the Roman occupation in the pages of the comic, Asterix has come to represent the spirit of French cultural pride and the “cultural exception:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_exception. The books have sold some 330 million copies worldwide, the films) have been a hit, there’s an Asterix theme park outside Paris and LSD blotters with the druid Getafix – inventor of the magic potion – burned many of our brain cells back in the golden days of Goa Trance.

Such a cultural bastion has Asterix been that there is even talk of the Asterix Syndrome which can either refer to French pride in their cultural legacy or their stubborn resistance to resist the inevitable effects of globalisation.

But for the rest of us Asterix will always be a favourite simply for the way the comics lampooned just about every race in the known world, from the precise fastidiousness of the Swiss to the quirky nerdiness of the British.

The plots may have sucked since writer, Rene Goscinny died (and we assume he must be rolling in his grave now that Asterix even advertises McDonald’s but Asterix and Obelix still represent the little man against the occupying forces of the Empire and comics are some of the best travel tales out there.