New Asterix author Jean-Yves Ferri inspired by Pictish adventure

Asterix and the Picts
Image caption Asterix and Obelix don kilts for their new adventure in the land of the Picts

The author of the new Asterix comic book has said the Scottish landscape inspired the latest epic adventure Asterix and the Picts.

Jean-Yves Ferri and illustrator Didier Conrad are the first people, other than the original creators, to produce an Asterix story.

Illustrator Albert Uderzo invented the warrior Gaul with his scriptwriter friend, Rene Goscinny, in 1959.

Uderzo announced his retirement two years ago.

He had written the books himself since the death of Goscinny in 1977.

A lecture at the Alliance Francaise in Glasgow is the first time that Mr Ferri has spoken publicly about the new book, which will be published in October.

It tells the story of Asterix and Obelix's journey from ancient Gaul to Iron Age Scotland and the fearsome Pictish clans living there.

The book is being published in English, Scots and Scots Gaelic, along with many other world languages - several for the first time.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Ferri said: "I love the landscapes of Scotland, especially at the north, up in the Highlands. And it's the landscape for a story of Asterix - an ideal landscape.

"In my story, politics are the background. But the story - the principal story - is a kind of love story between a Pict character and a girl. And Asterix and Obelix went to Scotland to help him."

The author said Asterix and the Picts was, in true tradition, an epic journey into a land of rich traditions and history.

Image caption Jean-Yves Ferri's new Asterix will be available in Gaelic and Scots editions

It takes the Gauls into the heart of Scotland, where they meet warriors and ancient clans, discover whisky, bagpipes, the origins of Hadrian's Wall and the location of the Loch Ness Monster.

Mr Ferri said there was an allusion to the independence referendum debate, showing all the clans divided and uniting.

"And it's a symbol, for Scotland united and free," he added.

The pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign said: "We are animated by an endorsement from such a prestigious character, but, as ever, we would have to check that he is registered to vote."

Meanwhile, a pro-Union Better Together spokesman said: "This is obviously the boost the Yes campaign have been desperately waiting for."

'Savoir faire'

The Asterix books are said to be the world's most popular comic series, with 350 million copies sold. They have also inspired 12 films.

The lecture is part of a conference on comics and graphic novels being held at the University of Glasgow.

Organiser Dr Laurence Grove said: "Asterix changed world comics, but also changed world culture.

"He has had the first European rocket named after him, he has been on the front cover of Time magazine, and he has come to represent the embodiment of French 'savoir faire'.

"This year sees the launch of one of the most highly anticipated comic books of all time and it is a great honour for the University of Glasgow to welcome Jean-Yves Ferri to Glasgow to talk about the new book for the first time."

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