Asterix Comics: The Best Picks
The Works of Goscinny and Uderzo
Asterix is a comic book series both children and adults enjoy. The series seems to do well in both age groups because the stories have so many different layers. Apart from the obvious humor that children will understand there's also more subtle historical references, parody and underlying meanings which adults will understand. This makes Asterix perfect for adults too.
The best Asterix books are those written in the 1960s and 70s by René Goscinny (writer) and Albert Uderzo (illustrator). The quality of these books is consistently high unlike those written after the death of Goscinny in 1977. It's generally thought that the books by Uderzo alone aren't of the same quality as the earlier books where the two talents of Goscinny and Uderzo were combined. (This is a thought I totally agree with.)
The Best Asterix Books (1961 to 1976)
The combined creations of Goscinny and Uderzo fit into the years of 1961 to 1976. This time frame includes the following books:
Asterix and the Cauldron (1969),
Asterix in Spain (1969),
Asterix and the Roman Agent (1970),
Asterix in Switzerland (1970),
The Mansions of the Gods (1971),
Asterix and the Laurel Wreath (1972),
Asterix and the Soothsayer (1972),
Asterix in Corsica (1973),
Asterix and Caesar's Gift (1974),
Asterix and the Great Crossing (1975),
Obelix and Co (1976).
Asterix the Gaul (1961),
Asterix and the Golden Sickle (1962),
Asterix and the Goths (1963),
Asterix the Gladiator (1964),
Asterix and the Banquet (1965),
Asterix and Cleopatra (1965),
Asterix and the Big Fight, (1966),
Asterix in Britain (1966),
Asterix and the Normans (1966),
Asterix the Legionary (1967),
Asterix and the Chieftain's Shield (1968),
Asterix at the Olympic Games (1968),
My Asterix Recommendations
These are some of the "best of the best" Asterix books - and a good place to start if you're just starting your collection.
Asterix the Legionary
This is the book that is mentioned most often in literature reviews about the very best Asterix comics. The reason why it appears so often is it's humor. Asterix and the Legionary is considered to be the funniest book in the Asterix series.
It's also the only Asterix book written by Goscinny and Uderzo that's a love story (well sort of). Obelix falls for a girl in their little Gaulish village. This leads to an adventure - as do all the Asterix stories. In this book Asterix and Obelix must join the Roman Army. For anyone who knows a little about this Gaulish village and it's inhabitants you'll know this is a situation that is unlikely to go smoothly.
Asterix the Legionary at Amazon
Asterix and Cleopatra
This is one of my favorite Asterix books. It has lots of humorous parodies of modern and ancient history. A good example of this is how the whole book is a parody of the famous film Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. (The film was released in 1963.This book was written in 1965.)
Dogmatix (the little dog in Asterix) makes his first major appearance in Asterix and Cleopatra. This makes this book a better choice for kids than some of the other Asterix books. (This was my very favorite Asterix book as a young school child.)
Asterix and Cleopatra at Amazon
Asterix in Spain
Most of the Asterix books are too hard for children less than 9 or 10 years of age. But some of the books (like Asterix and Cleopatra) do make good read aloud stories.
Asterix in Spain (1969) is my first choice of Asterix book for a child. This is because it's the only book in the series that has a child as one of the main characters. Pepe's antics will have kids giggling (because he isn't always well behaved). Dogmatix (Obelix's dog) is also a main character. These two things will appeal to children more than some of the other Asterix stories which focus on the adult characters.
One of the important aspects of the Asterix series is the clever humor. Most of the humor in the other books will be beyond the understanding of most younger children. But many of the jokes in Asterix in Spain will be understood by kids. One of the main Romans, for example is named Spurius Brontosaurus. Most kids will know what a Brontosaurus is and think this name is hilarious. So this gives kids a taste of the wonderful humor in these books.
Now if you're wondering if this was the first Asterix book I was introduced to as a child. Yes it was!
Asterix in Spain at Amazon
Asterix and the Roman Agent
Many of the Asterix books explore different aspects of human nature. This one focuses on the traits of loyalty and trust.
It's actually an interesting Asterix adventure exploring the role gossip has in the breakdown of loyalty and trust among the village's usually close knit inhabitants. This change in mood is reflected in the speech bubbles which become an increasingly darker shade of green as the story progresses. It's a clever visual portrayal of the worsening relations between the villagers. This comical insight into human nature makes Asterix and the Roman Agent an excellent example of the Asterix series.
Asterix and the Roman Agent at Amazon
The Asterix Omnibuses
If you're beginning your Asterix collection or buying a gift for someone the ominbuses make a good choice. This is because these larger books have 3 different Asterix stories so they're good value for money.
The omnibuses that have Asterix stories from 1961 to 1976 are:
- Omnibus 1: Asterix the Gaul, Asterix and the Golden Sickle, Asterix and the Goths
- Omnibus 2: Asterix the Gladiator, Asterix and the Banquet, Asterix and Cleopatra
- Omnibus 3: Asterix and the Big Fight, Asterix in Britain, Asterix and the Normans
- Omnibus 4: Asterix the Legionary. Asterix and the Chieftain's Shield, Asterix at the Olympic Games
- Omnibus 5: Asterix and the Cauldron, Asterix in Spain, Asterix and the Roman Agent
- Omnibus 6: Asterix in Switzerland, The Mansions of the Gods, Asterix and the Laurel Wreath