Asterix gets first female hero in 60-year history

Meet Adrenaline, the rebellious teenage Gaul who features in Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter

A figure of the character Adrenaline. Photograph: Reuters

A figure of the character Adrenaline. Photograph: Reuters

 

Asterix, the indomitable pint-sized Gaul forever outfoxing the Romans, is taking a step back for a female hero for the first time in the beloved comic’s 60-year history.

In a move to update the books, which have been entertaining readers since 1959 and spawned multiple movie spinoffs, the action in Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter revolves around Adrenaline, the teenage daughter of famous Gaulish king Vercingetorix.

With her long red braided hard, black trousers, gold headphones and grumpy teenage disposition, Adrenaline keeps Asterix and his oversized sidekick Obelix chasing after her to ensure her safety as she explores adolescent rebellion.

The 38th comic book in the series, which is released across Europe on Thursday, is written by Jean-Yves Ferri and drawn by Didier Conrad, the team behind the last three books. They have remained close to the original format started by the writer René Goscinny and cartoonist Albert Uderzo, who mentored both Conrad and Ferri.

Advertising for the new Asterix book, La fille de Vercingetorix, is pictured at the Frankfurt book fair. Photograph: Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images
Advertising for the new Asterix book, La fille de Vercingetorix, is pictured at the Frankfurt book fair. Photograph: Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images

However, the creation of Adrenaline is a big leap away from the femme fatales who usually turn up in the Asterix comics.

“We didn’t want to develop a character who would be based on her seductive side as we usually do with female characters in Asterix. Most of the time they are young attractive women who seduce Obelix and their role stops there,” Conrad said.

In the latest book, Asterix and Obelix must protect Adrenaline, who is being hunted down by the Romans, while also being confronted by the intergenerational gap between them and the young chieftain’s daughter.

“In terms of the vocabulary it was quite amusing because I had to create a sort of teenage language for the time. We don’t have a lot of documentation about that. So the idea was to use certain expressions like teenagers do,” said Ferri.

The Asterix books have become a mainstay in the publishing industry, with more than 370 million copies sold worldwide.

Five million copies of the French edition of Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter have been printed, with 2 million of those remaining in France where new Asterix books frequently top the bestseller charts.

As well as being translated into more than 100 languages, the books have inspired a dozen movies and cartoon series, making it a global phenomenon. – Reuters/Guardian

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