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Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 09:00 GMT
Asterix punches his way back
Asterix: about to conquer Gaul for the 31st time
One little village in Gaul is still holding out against the Roman invaders as France's most famous cartoon character Asterix returns for his 31st adventure.

From Wednesday, eight million copies of the new Asterix comic book, Asterix and Latraviata are on sale across Europe.

It has been five years since writer and illustrator Albert Uderzo released the last Asterix adventure and there have been many rumours about his return.

Unusually, the new story contains a love interest - the beautiful Roman actress Latraviata - but it also contains plenty of battles with Romans and begins and ends with the traditional roast boar banquet.

So French

It was reported that at one busy bookshop opposite the Saint Lazaire railway station in Paris buyers were sitting down in the shop to read the new story.

"They're so well drawn," reader Virginie Marion told a reporter as she bought a copy of the book.

"And the characters are so French, not like the Japanese and American comics."

A survey in February revealed that the pugnacious little Gaul was the favourite cartoon character of 53 per cent of French people.

Forty years on

The first Asterix book, Asterix the Gaul, was published in 1961, two years after the character appeared as a strip in the weekly comic Pilote.

One of the cartoon's creators, René Goscinny, died in 1977, but is still credited on the book covers.

The 30 volumes of Asterix adventures so far published have sold 31 million copies in 41 languages.

The first Asterix story in English was published in 1969.

There is also a huge Asterix theme park on the outskirts of Paris.

See also:

04 Feb 99 | Entertainment
The magic runs out for Asterix
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