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By Toutatis! Uderzo hands over Asterix to a new writer/artist duo.
on 7 January 2014
I got this album as a Christmas-present from American friends, who know I love the Asterix series. As a lifelong Asterix fan, I was wondering how the English version would hold up, compared to the Dutch translations I'm used to.
The good news is, this one is a step up from the previous two albums. But then again, nothing could be worse than the atrocious "Asterix And The Falling Sky" (I mean, come on, Asterix and aliens??). So I was wondering what would happen now that Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad have taken over and if they would be able to breathe life back in to the series.
The art by Didier Conrad: while not on a par with Uderzo, it is a reasonably close approximation. At least the characters were perfectly realized and true to Uderzo's original style. Some panels had me thinking: this is probably how Uderzo would have done the layout. But as Uderzo was involved in the production, I don't know whose idea this was. Though there is room for growth, this is a reasonable good first attempt so I give the art four stars.
The scenario by Jean-Yves Ferri: the first couple of pages aren't too bad and a nice set-up for the story to follow. But then, it starts heading downhill. The overall story-line was muddled and didn't really get off the ground. The census taker seemed redundant to me (lost comic opportunity here) while lots of opportunities to poke fun at the Scots were passed over while some of the jokes that were made, fell flat. So, overall, I give the scenario two stars.
The translation by Anthea Bell: in the Dutch edition of this album, the translation seemed rather bland. My French isn't good enough to read Asterix in the original language, so I was wondering if the English version would be any better. But there are only slight differences between the Dutch and English versions of this album. For example, in the Dutch translation the druid Getavix is called Panoramix and Cacofonix is called Assurancetourix (I must say, I like the English name better). MacAroon is called MacAdam and his enemy MacCabaeus is called MacAber in Dutch.
Textually, what's missing in both Dutch and English versions is the sly wit and double (often triple) meanings that Goscinny would layer through the text, so I assume this is a failing not in the translation but in the French source as well. As mentioned above, the humor is very hit and miss (mostly misses), generally lacking the subtlety and warmth I'm used to from the Goscinny/Uderzo-combo. So I would say that, for better or worse, the translation is "spot on".
Trying hard not to look at this album through Goscinny/Uderzo-tinted glasses, because Ferri & Conrad have some admittedly very big shoes to fill, I would say this is overall an okay first-time effort, hence the three stars. But they really need to step up to the plate in their next effort, especially scenario-wise.