But I am a die-hard fan of the Asterix series. The kind who can quote call-outs verbatim; Many of the issues I do not even need to read; I can play it like a slide-show in my mind.
Which is why it never ceases to amaze me how wonderfully Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge have translated an essentially French series (in language, but more importantly, in character as well) into full-blooded Queen's (Dictator's?) English, while preserving the spirit of the original.
The first thing that strikes me are the names. The Bard, a torture for the auditory senses, is named Cacofonix, while the old gentleman with a pretty & young wife is named Geriatrix (incidentally his wife is the only major village character which is never named in the entire series, apart from the village itself - YES, the village is NEVER named in the entire series!) Dogmatix is one of the best-named characters - He's actually a very dogmatic character (witness his howling whenever a tree is cut)
The names of one-time characters are even more mirth-inducing. Many of the British characters are named after esoteric taxes - Getafix's British druid friend is called Valueaddetax (in Asterix & The Goths), while a trainee legionary is called Selectiveemploymentax (in Asterix the Legionary). Another favourite name is Courtingdisastus (in Asterix in Corsica); The pun on his name when one of the Corsicans warns his sister about flirting with Romans is too funny!
The beauty lies in revealing something about the character through his name and always ending it appropriately - ix for the Gauls, ic for the Goths, us for the Romans & a for the Ladies. So you have a scheming Gaulish traitor named Uptotrix (in Asterix & The Banquet), a tough Briton chief (in Asterix in Britain) named a after a line from Hamlet (Mykingdomforanos) & a decadent Roman Governor named Varius Flavus (in Asterix in Switzerland).
And now. the repartee, the conversations, the lines. One can go on and on and on, but to pick out a few: (Warning: Read the original, to get the full drift of the remarks!)
Asterix in Switzerland: The entire sequence in the beginning, when Vitalstatistix sacks his shield-bearers, is a sublime classic; Some sample lines:
"The Chief will lose his standing in the tribe if he throws his weight around like that" (In a reference to Vitalstatistix falling off his shield)
"The Chief is bent on getting a good angle on things. Proves what you can do if you have got the inclination" (Asterix & Obelix are carrying him on the shield; He is in an inclined position because of their height difference)
"He's just serving half a pint of mild & bitter" (Obelix alone is carrying Vitalstatistix like a waiter, Vitalstatistix complains of feeling like a half-pint chief & being a mild man who is now feeling very bitter)Asterix in Britain:
"He's been removed once, but you mustn't shake him too hard even if he asks you to" (Obelix says this for Anticlimax, Asterix's first cousin once removed, who had previously asked Obelix to shake him by the hand)
Asterix & The Big Fight:
Cassius Ceramix, the Roman stooge chief after challenging Vitalstatistix to the Big Fight, says "Gloria Victus! I turn my back on you" & turns around on his shield, after which his shield-bearers turn & he is facing Vitalstatistix again.
"No, not you! If you also turn back, then I get back where I started!"
Asterix & the Banquet:
Obelix is interrogating the traitor Unpatriotix; He ask's him which place the Romans have captured & taken Asterix to;
"I don't care whether you have ordered rum or not! You don't soften me up like that!"
Asterix & The Secret Weapon:
One of the village ladies argues with Cacofonix:
"Oh, so a woman can't be a bard"
"No Ma'am, shes barred from being a bard"
He gets bashed left right & centre.
Asterix observes his black eye and remarks:
"No holds barred, eh?"
Genius. Pure genius.