It is a textbook that comic creators ought to read to learn how to construct a joke, sell a joke, and properly repeat a joke for maximum impact. Who is Soporifix? Some guy from the village. This is the first time anyone mentions him in the series. In any case, Panacea went off to school for two years in another French town, only to come back as the cutest thing the village has ever laid its eyes on. You know this is true because Uderzo draws her less as a cartoon character and more as a human.
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It is a textbook that comic creators ought to read to learn how to construct a joke, sell a joke, and properly repeat a joke for maximum impact. Who is Soporifix?
Some guy from the village. This is the first time anyone mentions him in the series. In any case, Panacea went off to school for two years in another French town, only to come back as the cutest thing the village has ever laid its eyes on.
You know this is true because Uderzo draws her less as a cartoon character and more as a human. It feels…. It reminds me of those times when Carl Barks drew dogs into the Duck comics that look like humans with black noses in the middle of their faces amidst a sea of cartoony ducks. Obelix, in particular, is smitten with her.
Love and the Single Menhir Carrier Asterix and Getafix lend a hand to the lovelorn big guy, but their attempts to help are thwarted when they discover that Panacea already has a boyfriend. His name is Tragicomix. No big nose. Caesar has volunteered Tragicomix into his Legions and is shipping him off to fight in Africa.
So what do you do to impress a girl? You vow to go save her boyfriend and bring him home! Asterix Joins the Army, er, Legion! They insist on getting to the war zone as fast as possible so they can find Tragicomix.
This, needless to say, is the opposite of what everyone else wants or expects. Preparing for war is a long training process. Getting the bodies used to as little food as possible while strengthening them is not an overnight thing.
It takes process, process, process to keep such a large organization alive. The Romans are confounded, and Asterix and Obelix pound this home again and again. They show no respect to the Roman processes. They fight for the soldiers but, most of all, they fight for their own quick advancement to save their friend.
Along the way, they make serious changes and upgrades to the Roman infrastructure. Not surprisingly, that starts with getting the chef to server a decent bore, not the slop he concocts on a daily basis. This all drives the Roman leaders crazy. The more they try to restore order to this ragtag group of misfit recruits, the deeper they get into their own frustrations.
Prior Art It feels very Vaudevillian. It feels like a Marx Bros. This is Zeppo and Harpo giving the lemonade vendor a hard time on the street until he goes completely mad. This is Bugs Bunny playing with Elmer Fudd by misdirecting him, redirecting him, confusing him, and finally driving him so mad that he runs off.
I love that kind of stuff. You can take pushover enemies and have a lot of fun with them. It is a ruthless, never ending, snowball of laughter, gathering steam all the way through to the end.. Here, look closer: Look familiar? No, it might not have made sense, but it wold have been funny. This is also a pretty viable list of candidates for Punny Name of the Week here.
I think the Brit wins it, though, with Selectivemploymentax, which is ridiculously long and cumbersome, yet makes a perfect pun with a British meaning. The Egyptian is named Ptenisnet, which comes close, too. The gestures he gives the characters play perfectly to the script. Asterix is determined, and it shows, even without reading the dialogue. Has is also a better editor, script-writer, and critic for these kinds of things.
He gets into a scene, tells a joke, tells another joke, and then closes on a joke that completes the circle from the beginning of the scene. The formula is so good that he uses it repeatedly and to great effect.
As a set-up, Asterix has entered the Legion Headquarters and is looking for where he might find Tragicomix. The first person he asked on the previous page pointed him to the Information Bureau. You always get passed to the next department. Nobody seems to do anything of actual value. They only have one job to do and whatever you need is not it. At the Information Bureau, the noise of the scribe chipping the stone to write names on it drowns Asterix out.
The other man in the room is busy cleaning his fingernails with a knife. There, Asterix finds two soldiers playing cards with a deck of small stone tablets. I can tell him from my personal experience, that two redirections is usually just a good start.
The real time to throw your arms up and give up is when you come full circle and they point you back to where you starterted. As you an see, that sends Asterix off fuming at the end of tier 3, where he kicks open the door, red-faced and ready for a brawl. It was the day debts were due and the day the priests would announce how many days were in that month. I guess the gag here is that the Romans do their laundry once a month? This sends him back to the Information Bureau in tier four.
Asterix going to a new office is a repeated gag. At each office, the workers are either not working or are useless. Then, Asterix gets directed to another department. The annoyed feeling Asterix has continues to build up over the course of this page. This cycle is relatively quick — only a page. With the last panel, Goscinny brings everything full circle, as the gag from the top of the page gets echoed at the bottom.
Albert Uderzo deserves a lot of credit for the postures and gestures on this page, too. He goes from curious in the first tier to hands thrust deep into the pockets and annoyed on the second. Look at the middle panel in those first three tiers, too.
There are lots of callbacks and running gags shows of politeness and love, for two examples sprinkled throughout the book. First, we have to pass though Massilia, now known as Marseilles. Settled originally by the Greeks , it became an ally of Rome and a major shipping port, with its convenient and valuable waterfront property along the Mediterranean Sea.
Caesar started a civil war after the Gallic War everyone needs a hobby against his frenemy, Pompey. The two fought hard, occasionally dirty, and Caesar eventually won. But in 49 BC, the town of Massilia aligned itself with Pompey. So Caesar, while travelling past the town on his way to Spain, l eft three legions of his soldiers behind to take the town back for him. Long story short, they did. The Battle of Thapsus , which seems to be the one taking place in this book, happened in the real world in 46 BC.
Uderzo also missed one key ingredient in the Battle of Thapsus. Uderzo passed on drawing those, I noticed. Caesar was smart enough to have an answer for the elephants, by the way. He had his archers fire at them. In the real world, Caesar won this battle too, as he won nearly all of them. Second Punniest Name of the Month Earlier, I gave the award for the week to Selectivemploymentax, for the longest and craziest pun ever.
Nefarius Purpus is the leader of the 1st Legion, 3rd Cohort, 2nd Maniple, and 1st century. Asterix and Obelix destroy him repeatedly over the course of the book, from training to the front lines in Africa. Then these two Gauls come along and give him no respect.
Along with their silly group of friends and all their issues, Purpus is on the brink of a mental breakdown. Yes, yes, yes, and heck yeah! This is slow burn slapstick comedy at its finest. Every page is a treasure. The grand finale has a couple funny twists and turns to it, all of which fits in with the tone and tenor of the book, as a whole. Because I can.
Great job summarizing without spoiling, Augie. Enjoy your break! Only my deep antimilitaristic inclinations prevented me from appreciating it for a great many years.
Not one of my favourites, but still good. The bulk of the book, covering the training, is great. Good funny stuff. In the final sequence though, it all falls apart for me.
Asterix the Legionary (1967)
It was released in , and was the 23rd volume to be published, but it has been rarely reprinted and is not considered to be canonical to the series. The only English translations ever to be published were in the Asterix Annual and never an English standalone volume. It was a tribute to Albert Uderzo on his 80th birthday by 34 European cartoonists. The volume was translated into nine languages. As of [update] , it has not been translated into English. There was no English edition.
Asterix the Legionary
Ptenisnet: Egyptian volunteer, albeit under false pretences. In both senses. Continuity; lack-thereof and other gaffes… For once a story with a specific historical backdrop which pinpoints time and place as the Tunisian crunch-point of the civil war that marked the end of the first triumvirate between Caesar, Pompey and Crassus. As in Asterix and the Normans the Romans are less villains than victims of their own bureaucracy. Kessler The postman Tragicomix makes a second conscecutive appearance p8. The device of representing foreign languages with the appropriate typeface reaches wonderfully absurd levels as a translator is required to mediate between Goths Gothic text , an Egyptian hieroglyphs and some roughly monolingual Gauls, Romans, Brits, Belgians and a Greek. The Greek speaks the same language, though his dialect id denoted by runic lettering begins p
Synopsis[ edit ] Asterix and Obelix are setting off for a wild boar hunt when they encounter Panacea , a former childhood resident of the village who has since moved to Condatum , and Obelix immediately falls in love with her. Asterix and Obelix travel to Condatum, where they learn that Tragicomix has already left for Massilia , the Mediterranean port from which the soldiers depart, and themselves enlist in the army to follow him, alongside Hemispheric the Goth ; Selectivemploymentax the Briton ; Gastronomix the Belgian ; Neveratalos the Greek ; and Ptenisnet, an Egyptian tourist who spends the entire book believing himself to be in a holiday camp. After completing basic training and repeatedly and comically driving their instructors to the verge of tears , the newly formed unit sets off as reinforcements to Caesar against Scipio , Afranius , and King Juba I of Numidia. The Gauls are cornered by Caesar after the battle is over; but released and sent home for their assistance in his victory.
Plot summary[ edit ] The resistance of the Gaulish village against the Romans causes friction between dictator Julius Caesar and the Roman Senate , whose power had been reduced by Caesar. With their Magic Potion which gives them superhuman strength and is known only to their druid Getafix , they easily stand up against Rome and her laws. At a meeting with his associates, it is suggested to Caesar that causing internal conflict between the Gauls will lead to their breakdown. He is then told by another Official about Tortuous Convolvulus, a natural troublemaker whose mere presence causes arguments, quarrels and fights. This had him sentenced to the lions in the circus, but his ability had the lions eat each other and he is still in prison. Impressed by his abilities, Caesar sends him to the Gauls. On the way, Convolvulus has the whole ship arguing, from the captain to the galley slaves; and when the pirates attack the ship, Convolvulus represents one of them as having been bribed earlier by himself, and thus provokes them to sink their own ship.