Sunday, January 13, 2013
Asterix, Obelix, Muselix (AKA Getafix, AKA Panoramix), and a nameless Roman Soldier: PEZ dispensers produced in 1998.
If there’s anything worse than developing a minor fixation on limited edition PEZ dispensers featuring characters from various movies and television series, it’s getting fixated on characters nobody has ever heard of.
Meet Asterix and friends, a 50+ year old comic book creation of French artists René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. Never heard of ’em? That’s not surprising, since despite their immense popularity - their 34 some-odd books have been translated into 100 languages and have sold over 325 million copies worldwide - their fan base is primarily a European one. The Franco-Belgian corner of the pop culture world, alas, does not always fit with the American mainstream.
Well, you may not know him, but he was popular enough to merit a Google Doodle on his fiftieth birthday back in 2009.
That’s too bad, because Asterix the Gaul (Astérix le Gaulois in the French original) is quite the entertaining fellow. He and his menhir-schlepping buddy Obelix reside in the one village in Gaul that has managed to resist the Roman conquest, owing to the super-strength-inducing properties of a potion concocted by the resident Druid, Muselix (AKA Getafix). The humor contains elements of David versus Goliath (canny, outnumbered Gauls against the might of the Roman Empire) as well as Mutt and Jeff (little Asterix and big, not-so-bright Obelix), coupled with a lot of wordplay around the Gaulish and Roman character and place names. It works well enough in English translation, but in the French original it’s positively brilliant.
There are a number of Asterix movies out there, both live-action and animated... alas, none of them have ever caught fire here in the States. But no matter... because thanks to the brilliant character licensing experts at PEZ, I can at least have a set of completely useless - yet decorative - vintage 1998 Asterix PEZ dispensers occupying shelf space in my office.
If nothing else, these bad boys are conversation pieces... said conversations generally beginning with “Who the fuck are those things supposed to be?” And now you know, Esteemed Reader!