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Beric the Gaul and Asterix the Briton: Early translations of Asterx books?

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#1 · Posted: 24 Jan 2005 15:50
[Moved from the Chronologie vol 5: Tintin's first English name? thread:]

I'm sure I read somewhere (in a kind of comics encycopedia) that Asterix and Obelix had alternative names when they were first translated into English.
I can't remember the names, nor have found any further information about this, but I do remember that Asterix's name began with the letter "B".
Can anyone shed any light on this?
#2 · Posted: 24 Jan 2005 16:47
Astérix (the Gaul) first appeared in “The Ranger” then “Look & Learn” as “Beric the Briton”, a choice even more confusing than the “Marlinshire” relocation of Tintin!!

“Britons Never, Never, Never Shall be Slaves!” (Asterix and the Big Fight) ran from 1965 to 1966, and “In the Days of Good Queen Cleo” (Asterix and Cleopatra) ran from late 1966 to early 1967.
#3 · Posted: 24 Jan 2005 16:59
Thats it Beric!. Cheers Jock. I've tried trawling the net for this before to no avial. Ive just tried serching for Beric the Briton and asterix and found some really interesting info.
#4 · Posted: 24 Jan 2005 20:29
No problem, 'popolous! Glad it helped.

I realized that we were in danger of sliding well off topic in the other thread, so I thought it'd be wise to start this new thread, as the Astérix/ Asterix/ Beric topic deserves further attention.

Like Tintin, Astérix first ran not in a book, but in a British comic.
In Tintin's case this was a serialization of King Ottokar's Sceptre in the Eagle; Astérix made his English-language début in The Ranger, before moving to Look and Learn (which many may remember for the epic Don Lawrence strip The Trigan Empire).

Strangely, the decision was made to turn our indomitable Gaul into a rostbif!!. Unbelieveably, Astérix le Gaulois didn't become "Asterix the Gaul" - he metamorphosed into "Beric the Briton"! Par Toutatis!!

Now, a little further research has brought to my attention that "Beric the Briton" was the hero of a novel of c. 1892 by G. A. Henty (1832–1902), a prolific writer of both fictionalised and non-fiction history books, as well as being a war-correspondant and journalist.

What I wonder was the motivation in trying to shoe-horn the one into the other? Whilst Henty's Beric was involved in a struggle against the occupying Romans, he was defeated and taken to Rome (I've only read the synopsis, not the book, I suspect he escapes, but perhaps not...); it would seem to be a "serious" work, like "Spartacus" or "The Robe", in that it involves early Christians being fed to the lions rather than recant, and not really like the tone of your average Asterix book.

I can't imagine that it would have been possible to maintain an Anglicized continuity - it barely works in Tintin; for Asterix, it would surely have been disaster!

As another footnote to the story, "look and learn" is the English for "voir et savoir", the name which the educational content in Tintin magazine went under! Small world!
Harrock n roll
#5 · Posted: 25 Jan 2005 02:06
Interesting, I'd heard that Asterix had originally appeared as a Briton but that was all - thanks for the info jock123!

I can’t imagine that it would have been possible to maintain an Anglicized continuity - it barely works in Tintin; for Asterix, it would surely have been disaster!

It's funny to think of Asterix as a Briton! I'd love to know which book(s) they serialised and for how long. I would guess it was for just one or two adventures.

After a little trawl I found this panel from “Ranger”. http://mitglied.lycos.de/jakubkurtzberg/Ranger01.jpg. Anyone know which book this scene appeared in?
#6 · Posted: 25 Jan 2005 07:57
They serialized two books: Asterix and the Big Fight as Britons Never, Never, Never Shall be Slaves!, as shown in your picture, from 1965 to 1966, and Asterix and Cleopatra as In the Days of Good Queen Cleo from late 1966 to 1967. I think that was pretty much it.

They were different translations from those used now, although I haven’t found anything (in my somewhat cursory search on the net) to say that they were done by nuns, de-frocked druids, or anybody more exotic than the usual team Derek Hockridge and Anthea Bell.

I was also interested to see that the only people who seemed looking to amass a complete collection of the original British strips were in Germany. Perhaps if it was apparent that there was a market for the stories outside the U.K., that might encourage the powers that be to re-publish them. If that succeeded, then there might be a chance of getting the Eagle version of Ottokar into a book.
#7 · Posted: 25 Jan 2005 09:53
Very interesting indeed!. It’s always nice to learn some new info, especially when its been in the back of your mind for so long. Found some info on Asterix-internaitionl.com. There’s a nice translation comparison of the normal UK, US and Ranger series. Getafix says by Golly in the ‘Look and Learn’. How very English. Getafix has a Purple Beard too??? How were Ranger going to serialise Asterix in Briton? Maybe that’s why they dropped the ‘Beric’ name. I also see that Obelix is ‘The son of Bodecia’, by Toutatis! And they had a map of Briton instead of Gaul. Those early serialised UK comics must be very rare.

I was also interested to see that the only people who seemed looking to amass a complete collection of the original British strips were in Germany

I found that the germans had there own early Ast + Ob called - Siggi und Babarras!
John Sewell
#8 · Posted: 25 Jan 2005 12:33
Fascinating stuff! I'd been wondering about this ever since, during the 1980s, I found an issue of Ranger containing the strip in a box of 60s and 70s comics in my parents' loft - they were both teachers, and kept piles of comics for rainy break-times at school. Somehow this one had found its way home and become forgotten about for over ten years!

Interestingly, I also remember that the comic had an installment of the first Trigan Empire storyline in it as well. Was Ranger eventually merged with Look and Learn?

From what I recall, 'Britons Never etc' was presented as a single page strip, with a summary of the story and a "next week" box rather ham-fistedly pasted in. I also remember that the summary seemed to give the impression that Chief Vitalstatistix (who was renamed Caradoc, or Caractacus, or something similar) was being treated as the main star of the strip. Beric and the Son of Boadicea didn't even get named on that particular page! Fair enough, as the Chief plays a more than usually large role in The Big Fight, but it did seem strange that they appeared to be "bigging him up" at the expense of the two main characters.

Nothing more to add, except that I wish I'd kept all those comics! As well as the sole Ranger, they included about two years' worth of early 70s Buster, and a stack of early Whoopees and Warlords!
#9 · Posted: 25 Jan 2005 13:04
The first of Ranger issued could be worth up to £20 - John im sure your Ranger would have been worth something seeing as the rarity and Obscure Asterix connection. Im sure a budding Asterix geek would like to get hold of Beric's appearance. I think it said there were only 40 issues until it was turned into Look and Learn.

heres a link to some Beric info - http://www.26pigs.com/ranger/
John Sewell
#10 · Posted: 25 Jan 2005 13:37
Thanks for the link there! I just hope if anyone still has a copy of issue one with the free space dust, they don't try eating it!

It seemed to be very much in the Eagle style - slightly oversized in comparison to other comics, printed on relatively glossy paper, and with an exciting action painting of a racing car on the cover!

I'd like to see the whole 'Britons' strip alongside the later translation for comparison. Another impression I got was that whoever did it for Ranger had a fairly loose grasp of French / English translation skills, as what the characters were saying bore little resemblance to what Hockridge and Bell later came up with! Almost as if they were only provided with a basic story outline and dialogue-free artwork, and had to make it up as they went along! The frame shown on the 26pigs site seems to bear that impression out; "Dr. Dottidoc" - oh dear...

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