Newest Review: ... that it's much shorter too at about 30 pages and not really a graphic novel although there are some illustrations. It's a nice book but ... more
Member Name: Jake Speed
How Obelix Fell into the Magic Potion - Albert Uderzo
Advantages: Lovely art
Disadvantages: Very short, not a proper Asterix volume
How Obelix Fell into the Magic Potion When he was a Little Boy is an Asterix spin-off story by René Goscinny and was first published in Pilote magazine in 1969. The story was mostly text with only a few illustrations but in 1989 the Asterix illustrator Albert Uderzo (who now produced the Asterix books alone since the death of Goscinny in the late seventies) added some more illustrations and a new cover and published it as a stand alone Asterix album. Obelix of course is the portly boar munching best friend of our hero Asterix. While the Gauls in Asterix defy Roman rule by drinking the magic potion brewed by their druid Getafix and gaining temporary super strength, Obelix has super strength all the time because - as we are constantly told throughout the Asterix books - he fell into a cauldron of magic potion when he was a baby. Having been constantly told this it's slightly surprising here then to have the event occur when Asterix and Obelix are six (and therefore somewhat contradict the continuity of the series). I suppose it wouldn't have been much of a story if Asterix and Obelix were babies though and the change is essentially to allow the adult Asterix to narrate the story and also to allow us to see and hear about Asterix and Obelix as children at school. This is really a book for children or Asterix completists and has a much gentler and more child friendly feel than your usual Asterix volume. You should also be warned that it's much shorter too at about 30 pages and not really a graphic novel although there are some illustrations. It's a nice book but I think Uderzo was maybe pushing it a bit by putting it out as a stand alone volume.
In 2003 he actually put out an Asterix compilation of sort stories and oddities from Pilote magazine entitled Asterix and the Class Act. This had various short vignettes like Obelix having to go back to school, an account of the birth of Asterix, Asterix and Obelix helping Lutetia (ancient Paris) win the chance to host the ancient Olympic Games, Asterix helping a tiny anthropomorphic personification of Spring overcome Winter, and so on. How Obelix Fell into the Magic Potion When he was a Little Boy could easily have been put into that compilation I feel rather than been published as a book in its own right. The actual story here seems slightly revisionist but it is quite nice. The twist is that Obelix was bullied when he was a boy and it was then that gave him the idea of sneaking a bit of the magic potion in the first place. What is enjoyable is the way we see some of his future character traits become established for the first time. His dislike of being called fat (!) and also we see the origin of his penchant for collecting the helmets of Roman legionaries after he has bashed them up. This is something that his father Obliscoidix liked to do too so was obviously something of a family tradition. I think this is the first time we glimpse the parents of Asterix and Obelix but I'm not completely sure. Plus of course the famous banquet under star strewn skies that always ends the traditional Asterix volumes. It's fun too to get a look at some of the other characters in their younger days. Vitalstatistix is still the chief of the village here but he's much thinner!
The principle reason to buy the book is a chance to see the beautiful watercolour illustrations that Uderzo has added to the text with this celebration of the 20th anniversary of the album's first publication. It begins with a wonderful new cover that highlights one of Uderzo's greatest strengths as the Asterix artist. His cosy interiors with stone walls and firelit rooms. The young Asterix and Obelix are wonderfully drawn too, retaining all of their character and personality in these pint sized incarnations. The back cover is equally impressive and has Obelix as a boy carving on one of his beloved menhirs. He will of course go to become a menhir delivery salesman as an adult and this is a joke of course because no one actually knows what menhirs are for or what you are supposed to do with them although Obelix always seems to think they are much in demand and make great gifts. An illustration at the start of the parents of Asterix in the garden with him when he was a child is absolutely fantastic. The attention to detail is amazing right down to the thatched roof and the watercolours are perfect for the story because they add a sort of dreamy golden haze and sense of nostalgia that is very fitting for the nature of the story because we taking a misty eyed trip back through time.
Cacofonix the bard makes an early appearance too and although Obelix won't get his beloved pooch Dogmatix until he is an adult the famous canine is anticipated here in a slightly strange fashion. I love by the way the open air classroom of Getafix the druid as he teaches the children. Getafix looks exactly the same here with his wizard like appearance and big white beard so he has obviously always looked exactly the same! These illustrations are very enjoyable and superbly done. Perhaps the highlight of the book is a double page spread of the whole of the Gaul village. This is absolutely superb and very enjoyable to dwell on so you can pick up the little details. It reminded me somewhat of an Asterix pull out frieze I had growing up but the art here is much more sumptuous. I think younger children would certainly enjoy the art here. The text itself is simple but moves the story along and has some of the trademark Goscinny wit although you'll have a much better time with a traditional Asterix volume. There is none of the comic violence and ahistorical visual and verbal punditry here that you usually expect from the series. Ultimately, this is a book that you can read in about ten minutes and you do have to wonder if it shouldn't have been included with Asterix and the Class Act instead. This is definitely an Asterix book for completists more than casual fans. At the time of writing you can buy How Obelix Fell into the Magic Potion When he was a Little Boy for around a fiver.
Summary: For completists only
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