The children’s graphic novel publisher Papercutz has launched a new American edition of Asterix, one of the bestselling comics in the world. But there’s a problem. This long-lived and popular French classic makes use of stereotypical caricatures of African characters that have long been considered offensive to many people.
Asterix, a slapstick comedy/satire about feisty Gauls outsmarting Roman soldiers in the occupied France of 50 BC, was created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo for the Franco-Belgian children’s magazine Pilote in 1959. Goscinny died in 1977, and Uderzo wrote and drew the series until 2013, when the new team of writer Jean-Yves Ferri and artist Didier Conrad took over. The series has been a bestseller for decades, not just in France but in the rest of the world as well. And while the humorous series was aimed at children, its sly political satire also appealed to adults.