· Posted: 21 Nov 2010 18:11
Having just taken my copy down off the self, I find that I paid 99p for it, so it was even more of a bargain than I remembered!
It was published in 1995 by Hodder Children’s Books, and written by Peter Kessler, with an ISBN of 0340 653 4 69, and my copy is a first edition (there may never have been a second one, so not much in that) which proclaims on the cover that there should be details in side about getting a free child ticket for Parc Astèrix (if there was, they aren’t there now…).
It’s broken down into four fairly long chapters, and there are sub-sections and features in all of these.
First there is a nice biographical section, about Gossicny and Uderzo, their lives before Astèrix, and the foundation of Pilote magazine. This is supplemented by a reproduction of a letter from a very young Emma Thompson to the translators, saying what a fan she is, and a guide to the appearances of G&U cameos in the series, in much the same way as Hergé put himself into the Tintin books.
Then there is a section which outlines the books from 1 to 29, and gives the author’s thoughts on each story, along with comments from Uderzo for some of them.
There’s a nice bit about the translators Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge, followed by an illuminating section on the perils and pitfalls of trying to match the original joke for joke, especially the puns.
It’s then topped off with a look at how a book is put together, not in terms of a specific volume, but an overview of the way in which the characters interact, gags are selected, puns visual and verbal are looked for etc., which is also illuminating.
If the book has a problem it is in that, apart from a limited section at the back, the art is reproduced in shades of grey. It cries out for more colour, and a bit better design, as some sections are very busy, while others seem a bit lost on the page.
That’s quite a minor point though in an otherwise interesting and detailed book, and if you see a copy, I’d easily recommend that you buy it.