Asterix, the short but plucky Gaul forever outwitting the Romans, on Thursday made way for the first female hero in the popular comic book’s 60-year history.
The latest volume ‘Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter’ stars Adrenalin, the rebellious teenage daughter of Vercingetorix, king of the Gauls.
She dreams of making the world a better place, dresses like a Goth, and exasperates Asterix and his companion Obelix with her moodiness and idealism.
Jean-Yves Ferri, the writer, acknowledges similarities between Adrenalin and Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage environmental activist, but insists that “it’s a pure coincidence”.
Didier Conrad, the illustrator, said: “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.”
Asterix and Obelix must protect Adrenalin from the Romans, who are hunting her, but the two battle-hardened warriors cannot control the grumpy teenager with braided red hair and gold headphones.
“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,” Mr Ferri said.
Adrenalin has been left in Asterix’s village by her father’s right-hand men, Monolithix and Sidekix, two characters loosely based on Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle. They have gone to Londinium [the Latin name for London], where Gallic leaders opposing the Roman occupation are based in an allusion to the wartime government-in-exile led by de Gaulle.
The 38th book in the series, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, also alludes to President Macron’s characterisation of the French as “Gauls resistant to change”.
Five million copies of the French edition of Asterix and the Chieftain’s daughter have been printed. More than 370m copies of the Asterix books have been sold worldwide. Translated into more than 100 languages, they have inspired a dozen films and cartoon series.