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5 unusual character names from the Asterix comics

Antje Binder eg
October 17, 2017

Asterix and Obelix are well known names, but sometimes the main characters of the best-selling comic series were creatively renamed in translation. Who are Yali, Witblix and co? Find out here.

Asterix and Obelix
Image: picture alliance/SND/courtesy Everett Collection

When the first volume of the Asterix series, "Astérix le Gaulois," was initially published in 1961 with a print of 6,000 copies, French illustrator Albert Uderzo and author René Goscinny couldn't have predicted that it would become one of the best-selling comic series in the world.

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Star and starlet

They obviously hoped it would become successful, however. For instance, the authors strategically picked a name for the title character starting with "A," allowing their comics to land at the top of alphabetic lists.

"Asterix" is derived from the ancient Greek word "asteriskos," or little star. Asterisk is also the term used in many languages for the typographical symbol of the star. Asterix was therefore predestined to become a star, not only in the stories, but also in book stores.

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International bestseller

Some 350 million copies of the comics have since been published, with a third of them for the German-language market. The 36 volumes have been translated in 110 languages and dialects, including Ancient Greek, Latin, Esperanto, Palatine German, Frisian and even Low German.

Translators in different countries each had their own way of dealing with the puns of the names of Asterix and Obelix, the latter of which is a play on the French word "obélisque." Click through our High Five gallery to discover the unusual names given to the main characters of the famous series.