Focus on Asterix the Gaul

Posted by John on

I was brought up with Asterix – it was one of the few comic books i was even encouraged to read. It was the cultural option, mixing real history, foreign culture and witty language (thanks to Anthea Bell’s brilliant translations) with gripping story lines. I and my schoolmates were drawn to the funny tales of the underdog of long ago, even if he was French.
So I’m delighted to work with Editions Albert Rene, the French publishers of the series, on the first hand-made sceenprints of the character. That’s right, these characters have never been turned into screenprints before, not in the UK, not in France or Germany, the heartlands of Asterix afficionados.
(Je suis le premier et seul sérigraphe britannique à avoir l’autorisation des Editions de l’éditeur français Albert René à utiliser leurs archives d’images pour faire des sérigraphies.)
I had the decision early on to splash colour around each screenprint – to pick an emblematic colour for each colour, spot colour that character and then to spead that colour liberally around the rest of the paper.
So Asterix himself has a yellow moustache, Obelix has blue stripey trousers and Getafix has a red cape. As a result, their screenprints are yellow, blue and red respectively.
Sometimes the ink clots a little in the deckled edges of my cotton, mould-made paper, but this I feel accentuates the hand-made nature of my screenprints. It’s how you can tell they are real screenprints, not injet prints.
They speak of the human hand, rather than the computer and machine.
Asterix first appeared in 1959 and 35 books drawn by Albert Uderzo and written by Rene Goscinny were published until 2010, although new titles are now being issued with Jean-Yves Ferri writing the story and Frédéric Mébarki drawing it. I attended an evening last week with the two of them and Anthea Bell in Picadilly to mark the publication of the latest story – Asterix and the Missing Scroll.
I was charmed by the both of them, and by Anthea, who was the star of the show even though she’s in her late seventies. Anthea was full of anecdotes about how writers and draughtsmen combine and clash and it was fascinating to see how the two responsible for Asterix sparked off each other.
Anyway, this is my current favourite – probably because it’s my most recent – more to come in the new year.
John Patrick Reynolds November 2015

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