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2 June 2020

Asterix and other bande desineé reprints in British comics

If you enjoyed my chat with Tony Esmond on episode #23 of the Never Iron Anything podcast here are my notes for the show - hopefully there'll be something here to pique your interest...check out the show link here...

40 pages
Lots of colour
Thick paper
All 12 new strips written by Mike Butterworth
Art by Mike Hubbard, J Millar Watt, Geoff Campion, Jesus Blasco, Arturo Del Castillo
David Roach says “ was a large, unwieldy, somewhat unfocussed comic which felt uncomfortably old fashioned at the dawn of the swinging ‘60s”

18th September 1965 – 18th June 1966 = 40 issues
In all 40 issues
“Britons never, never, never shall be slaves”
44 pages in ‘Asterix and the big fight’ – so slightly abridged
Ranger book 1967 = 1 x page (page 34 of Asterix & the big fight)
·         This page was missed out completely in Ranger [44 pages to squeeze into 40 issues]
·         April 16 1966 is the page before; April 23 1966 is the page after!

The strip is set in Britain not in France. Just says that some of the Britains adapt to the Roman way of life and some resist; no sense that this is the last village holding out against the occupation.

Not translated by Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge
Vitalstatistix = Caradoc
Asterix = Beric the bold
Dogmatix = Fido
Obelix = son of Boadicea
Getafix = Doric
(Local village) Linoleum = Chipping Wallop
Cassius Ceramix = Barewolf
Psychoanalytix the druid = Dr Dottidoc

Lots more words in the Ranger version

Other early BD strips in British comics
Tintin in Eagle in 1951 – albums (in English) started to appear in colour from 1958 onwards

Alix – 2 volumes in 1971

Ompa-pa – published in English in 1977/78

·         Reprints in The first instance of Fleetway reprinting a European strip that I can find, using Steve Holland and Dave Ashford’s Collector’s Guides as reference, is in The Sun (which was a comic back then rather than a newspaper), which in November 1950 ran “The Jester’s Revenge“. Unfortunately there are no credits for this strip or for “Hal Hotspur” which appeared in February 1951 and was also a European strip.

·         Both stories have medieval themes and were cut and paste jobs often appearing in the centre pages and on the back cover with distinctive flat colouring of the time. The Sun and its companion comic The Comet would often turn the black line to blue and then colour the strips, creating a rather odd effect. Other pages would be two colour while the balance was printed in black and white.

·         The Phantom Knight” reprinted in The Comet from February 1955 followed the pattern set by The Sun. This medieval strip had three pages all in the distinctive colours just described. Researchers will have to rely on stumbling across the source material of these strips to assign creative credits and original titles, or it may be revealed that they are actually original works by obscure un-named artists.

·         “Skippy the Kangaroo” is credited to a team of creators – Danet, Dubrisay and Genéstre and as an “André Sarrut Production”. The three named creators – artist L. Danet and animators G. Dubrisay and Roland Genéstre – all worked on Sarrut’s troubled animated film,  The Shepherdess and Chimney Sweeper (La Bergere et le Ramoneur) between 1948 and 1950, a production which was never officially released.

·         “The  adventures of Boy Colin” appeared in The Sun in October 1954
o   Ran for a whole year
o   Therefore first 2 albums were reprinted
o   Belgian creators J Van Melkebeke & Paul Covelier
·         Super Detective Library #42 (1954)
o   Most contents of SDL were reprints
o   Often used American / British newspaper strips

·         Knockout April 1960 – Jerry Spring by Jije becomes “He’s Slade”

·         Knockout May 1960 – Anna of the jungle by Hugo Pratt became ‘Jungle Drums’

·         Valiant issue 1 (6th Oct 1962) – Paladin the fearless by Jean-Michel Charlier & Albert Uderzo, a reprint of Bulldog from Pilote [Charlier writes Blueberry, Young Blueberry & Buck Danny]

·         Valiant 16 Nov 63 – 18 Jan 64 = Little Fred and Big Ed = 10 weeks
·         Valiant 25 Jan 64 – 4 Apr 64 = Little Fred                        = 11 weeks
o   = Asterix the Gaul = 1st book (garish colours, characters not finalised)
o   Asterix = Little Fred, the ancient Brit with bags of grit
o   Obelix = Big Ed
o   Getafix = Hocus Pocus
o    An edited-down version of Asterix the Gaul appeared in Valiant, a boys' comic published by Fleetway Publications, beginning in the issue dated 16 November 1963. It appeared in colour on the back page. Set in the Britain of 43AD, the strip was originally called Little Fred and Big Ed. Little Fred and stonemason Big Ed lived in the village of Nevergivup which was surrounded by eight Roman camps: Harmonium, Cranium, Pandemonium, Premium, Rostrum, Aquarium, Maximum and Laudanum. Their druid was called Hokus Pokus. As the story progresses and Obelix is absent from the action, the strip was renamed Little Fred, the Ancient Brit with Bags of Grit.
o    They got through the whole story in one page per week. As an example of how they edited it, here's a comparison of the last two pages of the original and how they appeared in Valiant:
(with thanks to Robbie Moubert for the above)
·         Look & Learn reprinted ‘Asterix & Cleopatra’ as ‘In the days of good queen Cleo’
o   25 June 1966 – 22 April 1967 = 44 weeks; so no abridging of the strip
o   Obelix becomes Doric (which was Getafix’s name in the Ranger adaptation)

·         Lion reprinted ‘Lucky Luke’ (art by Morris; script by Goscinny) as Boy Kidd, 11/06/66-16/07/66 [the strip having previously appeared in the full run of Champion - 26/02/66-04/06/66]

·         Lion also reprinted (as Jinks) ‘Modeste et Pompon’ from Le journal de Tintin (Belgium) – art by Andre Franquin; this had appeared previously in Knockout under the title ‘Dickie and Birdbath watch the woggle’ (1960)

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