Asterix, the Gaul

Asterix, the smallish guy, no smart looks either, unkept hair (or is it because of the feathered helmet?) is an unlikely superhero, looks-wise. The one thing that he’s got going is the presence of a side-kick and a monstrous one at that. Okay, okay, Obelix is only huge-ish but gentle at heart. Why is he always ferrying menhirs though?

Asterix and Obelix

I grappled with these thoughts for a while as I discovered Asterix the Gaul in comics. Comic books were considered bad influence in my childhood, things that took you away from studies and didn’t let you be the doctor or engineer that you ought to be. It was frivolous to be reading comically drawn things with their dialogues in call outs. Literature was in the books that had closely spaced words, came as hardbacks and had archaic sounding words.

But once I got hold of these curious comics, there was no looking back. There was a snoot factor at work here. Most of my friends couldn’t figure out the storylines, let alone the puns, of which there were plenty. The hard hitting wit and the sarcasm is what I loved most about Asterix and characters.

At that time, I could have pointed out to my parents and my varied aunts and uncles who were so worried about my studies and ‘overall development’ that these books (not just comics) were educative. So many historical characters, so many places the superheroes traveled to. It was where I learnt about Cleopatra’s iconic nose. And chuckled when I read Caesar’s ‘Et Tu Brute’ in quite another scenario.

The names of the characters that told a story from their names – Cacofonix (the bard, sings badly), Geriatrix (oldish) Getafix (has a magical potion or a fix), Dogmatix (the dog, who else), the light-hearted way the conflict (bloody in reality) was presented where nothing more violent than tying up Cacofonix happened and the happy-go-lucky attitude of the occupants of the Gaulish village have been the hallmark of the series of Asterix comics.

The trio – Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix

Recently, the illustrator and creator of Asterix comics, Albert Uderzo passed away, bring an era to an end. Another creative team may take up the project to keep the comic books coming. I am sure, Asterix and friends would continue to enthrall young and old readers across countries and cultures.

This post is part of #BlogchatterA2Z where I would be talking about my favourite fictional characters through the month of April.

Read, Write, Live

Reading has been something as essential as breathing. Always. It started from comics at a young age. Comics were frowned upon in those times. They did not have the acceptance they have today; now, they are crucibles of creativity and it can be imagined that the kids reading them today would graduate to reading and perhaps writing the graphic novels so popular in this age.

Well, we were told not to read them too much. Pocket money was limited and there were only a small number that we could buy on a regular basis. But we were enterprising. We children believed in pooling our resources (a rather sought after skill these days). We read our comics and then exchanged them. When we had read all from our immediate friends, we tried getting introduced to friends of friends. Then, we transcended age groups. I remember clambering over the brick wall of my best friend to get to her neighbour’s house because she told me that he had a huge pile of comics that we had never read.

Well, my imagination was fertile. And soon I graduated to magazines for children. ‘Champak’ was my favourite. I was crazy about the ‘Amar Chitra Katha’ series. There were ‘Tinkle’ and Chandamama’. In Hindi. ‘Chacha Choudhary’, ‘Pinki’ were my friends in the comics. ‘Panchtantra’ tales fed my musings.

Then came the abridged classics. I read so many of them. My teacher in the fifth grade presented me with ‘Oliver Twist’ as a reward for a completed assignment. I am so grateful to Mrs. Virdi for introducing to the great works. I am still hooked.

Yin is balanced by Yang. Anybody who reads has to write some day. They are simply two sides of the same coin. So, my life has been governed by these two passions. This led to me choosing the title of ‘Read, Write, Live’ on my blog. As for the tagline, there is nothing as satisfying as expressing oneself be it through colours, camera, clay or words. I salute every single person who is engaged in self expression, whatever it may be.