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Asterix returns - with a feisty female character in tow

The writer and illustrator say they set out to create a female character who would go beyond being a young and attractive temptress

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Author Jean-Yves Ferri (right) and illustrator Didier Conrad with a copy of Asterix and the Chieftain's Daughter and a figure of Adrenaline, the first female heroine in the Asterix series.

Paris

ASTERIX, the indomitable, pint-sized Gaul forever outfoxing the Romans, returns this week for his 38th comic book adventure, Asterix and the Chieftain's Daughter, featuring for the first time in its 60-year history a female heroine.

In a move to update the books, which have been entertaining readers since 1959 and have spawned multiple movie spinoffs and cartoon series, the writer and artist have created a character called Adrenaline, the teenage daughter of famous Gaulish king Vercingetorix.

With her long, red, braid and black trousers, gold headphones and grumpy teenage disposition, Adrenaline keeps Asterix and his oversized sidekick Obelix chasing after her to ensure her safety as she explores adolescent rebellion.

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The last three editions of Asterix have been written by Jean-Yves Ferri and drawn by Didier Conrad, sticking closely to the original format.

Mr Conrad said: "We didn't want to develop a character who would be based on her seductive side, as we usually do with female characters in Asterix; most of the time, they are young attractive women who seduce Obelix and their role stops there."

In the latest edition, Asterix and Obelix must protect Adrenaline, who is being hunted down by the Romans, while also being confronted by the intergenerational gap between them and her.

"In terms of the vocabulary, it was quite amusing because I had to create a sort of teenage language for the time. We don't have a lot of documentation about that. So the idea was to use certain expressions like teenagers do," said Mr Ferri.

This adventure story, for which five million copies have been printed, is to be released on Thursday.

The Asterix books have become a mainstay in the publishing industry, with more than 370 million copies sold worldwide. The stories have been translated into more than 100 languages. REUTERS