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Asterix 33, a.k.a. "Asterix and the Falling Sky"

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Richard
UK Correspondent
#1 · Posted: 25 Sep 2005 01:24 · Edited by: Richard
As many of you are no doubt aware, the new Asterix book will be published on the 14th of October. It'll be the 33rd book in the series, and details have finally been announced about it. Apparently the title will be Le Ciel Lui Tombe Sur La Tête (lit. "The Sky Falls On His Head") or Asterix and the Falling Sky. I don't know whether this is confirmed or not, but it's from the Independent. The release is planned simultaneously in twenty-seven countries.

Most of the details have been kept firmly under wraps, but Uderzo announced at the press conference in Brussels that this album will be "very different". The bookcover echoes the cover of the first volume in the series, and was unveiled this week.

Uderzo also affirmed that this would not be his last Asterix book, but once he lays down his pen for good there'll be no more Asterix comic strips - although films and cartoons may continue the legacy. He also said that he doesn't want to team up with anyone else to write the series, however : "I do think I am the only one who could keep this up because it doesn't work out very well when other people take over. They will inevitably change characters that you have worked with so closely ; I don't want readers to be disappointed."

Roll on 14th October, by Toutatis !
Karaboudjan
Member
#2 · Posted: 25 Sep 2005 08:59
Can't help wondering whether this will be the last of the series as we know it, though. The title's strongly suggestive- Vitalstatistix is always saying that they have nothing to fear except the sky falling on their heads, so what can this mean? The end of his time as Chief? The village finally being conquered by the Romans? And the cover art resembling the first ever album would seem to point towards the series coming full circle.

Don't let anyone put any spoilers up- I want to read it for myself! (Although there's been an undeniable decline in the series' quality since Goscinny died).
jock123
Moderator
#3 · Posted: 25 Sep 2005 10:17
I wonder if it will be a re-telling of the story of “Chicken Licken”/ “Chicken Little” (an acorn fell on his head as he walked through the forest, and in his panic as he ran he convinced equally gullible animals that the sky had fallen on his head), but with the Asterix characters taking the place of the animals? That might make it a different sort of book…
Karaboudjan
Member
#4 · Posted: 25 Sep 2005 13:06
Why is it I can see Obelix fulfilling this role?
Richard
UK Correspondent
#5 · Posted: 29 Sep 2005 00:16
Well, we have a cover ! It's here, and I guess that confirms that it'll be called The Falling Sky. I like the cover for the most part - some excellent shading and nice palette - but it doesn't say very much about the story.

On a related note, I think that the team responsible for cleaning up and recolouring the old covers has worked wonders, some of them are really stunning ; I'm not sure about the interior work, though. I think the artwork had a certain 60s-70s kitsch charm about it that doesn't suit the digital colouring.
stuart
Member
#6 · Posted: 16 Oct 2005 11:49
The Falling Sky has been out a few days now. It's a bit .... odd to say the least, especially the aliens (shades of Flight 714?) The cover has nothing to do with the story but it is a reworking of the cover for Asterix the Gaul.
Richard
UK Correspondent
#7 · Posted: 16 Oct 2005 13:31
Spoiler warning to anyone who hasn't read it yet !




I finished it yesterday, and am still not sure what to think. As a political satire it sort of works, but with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer in bubble-wrap. It was nice to see another caricature, the last one I can remember seeing was Kirk Douglas in Asterix & Obelix All At Sea. Nagma reminded be a bit of Rascar Capac, oddly enough.

I think the inclusion of the aliens was very brave, Uderzo took Asterix into unknown territory there (and I admit, I was getting flashbacks to Flight 714 too!) though I'm not sure if it paid off.

The merit of the artwork goes without saying, of course. The colouring is to a very high standard too (although I know Uderzo isn't responsible for it, being colour-blind and all). I'd have liked to see more sweeping landscapes as in previous books, but that's only a minor gripe graphically.

Perhaps I was expecting too much from this book - Uderzo's storytelling qualities aren't anywhere near Goscinny's. Although that said, his early attempts weren't bad. But reading The Falling Sky, the days of Asterix and the Black Gold are a long time ago, and Asterix in Britain a lifetime.
stuart
Member
#8 · Posted: 16 Oct 2005 19:31
I sort of wish Uderzo hadn't done this book. Asterix and the Actress would have been a better volume to round off the series, this one is a prize turkey. The main alien is too cutesy, the superhero dressed Arnold Scwarznegger bizarre, Nagma a bit dodgy (his evil Japanese look when knocked out his armour might be construed by some as racist). There's not much science in the sci-fi bits - a galaxy with 50 stars? What was that all about?

Apparently the colouring is done by computer now (according to the notes in the Brussels exhibition).
Richard
UK Correspondent
#9 · Posted: 17 Oct 2005 23:12
stuart
There's not much science in the sci-fi bits - a galaxy with 50 stars? What was that all about?

I think that the book was supposed to be read as a political satire, it's the USA vs Japan, vs France. The only thing I can possibly speculate about is that it's based on the increasing popularity of American comic books and Japanese manga in France, and the plight of the French bédés. Of course, if this is the case, Uderzo has hidden it very well.

The main alien's race, Tadsylwine, is an anagram of Walt Disney, he's named Toon (as in cartoon), he looks like Mickey Mouse (especially when Getafix's potion dyes him black), Arnie and the clones eat hot dogs - there's probably some more, these are just from memory. Nagma is an anagram of 'manga' and he has a stereotyped caricatured Oriental look (the series has always been a touch chauvinistic, but good-natured). The 50 stars presumably relates to the US flag.

If the script for this book had been leaked beforehand, I'd probably have thought of it as a fairly amusing spoof by someone with too much time on their hands. I'm still puzzled by what Uderzo was thinking. I'd like to see another Asterix book, if only to give the series the finale it deserves.

I think we can count ourselves lucky that Hergé drew his series to a close in a more realistic fashion. We have aliens, yes, but they're substantially more convincing than Toon and Nagma. Even though the books change toward the end, we've only got to cope with a more 'with it' yet cynical Tintin ; he doesn't hop onto the back of a flying Jean Claude Van Damme and sore through the skies above Tapiocopolis.
stuart
Member
#10 · Posted: 18 Oct 2005 00:26
Good points. I googled around and found an interview with Uderzo in which he talked about this being the first political Asterix & that Goscinny had never been interested in politics. (And there was I thinking that Mansions of the Gods was about the environment and Obelix&Co a witty satire on consumer capitalism ...) I wonder why Uderzo felt the need to introduce Aliens to represent America/Japan when he already had a perfect allegory to hand with the Romans? In fact, in my naivety, I always thought that the Romans were a swide-swipe at Americans, the Gaulish resistance ('holding out against the invaders') often being expressed as a cultural rather than territorial battle (especially in The Mansions of the Gods, The Banquet and The Big Fight).

Tintin never went off the boil. Flight 714 is not to my taste but Picaros is the only weak story of the last batch; from what I've seen of Alph-Art, it would have been a return to form. Unless, of course, Tintin was to have been resuced by a hotdog-fuelled superclone!

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