A comic-book series beloved in France and translated in 107 languages is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month, and Paris in particular will be awash with all things Asterix. The indomitable Gaul—who pals around with Obelix, obtains his magic strength potion from druid Getafix, and answers to chief Vitalstatistix—has sold 325 million copies worldwide. The signature celebratory feat? French air force jets leaving trails of smoke in the shape of Asterix’s head.
“What we wanted … was to create our own, homegrown comic-strip heroes, because at the time youth magazines were full of comic strips from America,” illustrator Albert Uderzo says. And uniquely French the band of Gauls proved, particularly their leader, marvels the series’ publisher: “Asterix is a bit like the Eiffel Tower.”