The popular comic book series, Asterix, is moving to a new home with the Little, Brown Book Group’s imprint, Sphere following a deal that will see the team take over the publishing of all Asterix titles from Hachette Children’s Group from this July.
The deal will include all 38 albums and 12 omnibus editions of the Asterix comics. Sphere will also publish the newest book in the series, Asterix and the Griffin, in both hardback and ebook form on October 21st 2021. The move to Sphere, says the group, is in recognition of the brand’s ‘broad and loyal family readership, including Asterix’s dedicated adult fanbase.’
Since the first Asterix album was published in 1961, the comic series has been translated into more than 100 languages and dialects, and sold more than 385 million copies worldwide. The series is focused on the adventures of the Gaulish warrior Asterix and his friend Obelix, a duo that have spawned animated cartoons, 15 feature films and its own theme park, Parc Asterix.
The last album, Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter, sold more than five million copies worldwide. Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad took over the Asterix series in 2013. The series’ original illustrator Albert Uderzo had been overseeing the series until his death in March 2020, and the books’ original author, René Goscinny, died in 1977.
The latest story will see Asterix and Obelix set out on their 39th adventure, and travel to a new destination in search of a strange and terrifying creature both idolised and feared by ancient peoples, the griffin.
Jean-Yves Ferri said: “For me, it all started with a sculpture of the Tarasque, a terrifying creature from Celtic legends … Did our ancestors really believe that these peculiar monsters actually existed? It’s worth mentioning that in Roman times there weren’t many explorers so the terra was mostly incognita.
“Even so, extraordinary animals such as elephants and rhinoceroses had already been exhibited in Rome. Having seen them, why would Romans have any reason to doubt the existence of equally improbable creatures? And hadn’t some of them (medusas, centaurs, gorgons …) been described very seriously before their time by the ancient Greeks?
“Now it was time look at this bestiary and choose the animal that would be at the centre of the intrigue. Half-eagle, half-lion, with horse’s ears and appropriately enigmatic – I opted for a Griffin. The Romans were bound to go for it. But what about the Gauls? How would Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix, along with the Druid Getafix, get drawn into the epic, perilous quest to find this fantastical animal?”
Asterix is also due to star in a 3D Netflix animated series, directed by Alain Chabat, the writer and director of 2002’s Mission Cléopâtre – the most successful of Asterix’s numerous appearances on screen and the third highest-grossing feature film in French history.
The series will be adapted from one of the classic volumes, Asterix and the Big Fight, where the Romans, after being constantly embarrassed by Asterix and his village cohorts, organize a brawl between rival Gaulish chiefs. The series will debut in 2023, and will be screened around the world.