Ferri and Conrad saw the beginnings of their tale, the second Asterix they have produced for the series, in Julius Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War, the narrative the emperor wrote about his battles with local armies in Gaul that resisted Roman domination.
"The great thing about the Adventures of Asterix is that they start from historical fact, like so many historical comics. We started with the books of Julius Caesar, and then we needed to think of a way that that story could be connected to the Gauls," Ferri explained to Sputnik.
The Asterix series follows the adventures of villagers in Gaul who valiantly resist the Romans, led by main characters Asterix and Obelix. The plucky inhabitants of the village, located somewhere in present-day Brittany, are able to withstand the Romans thanks to a magic potion which gives the recipient superhuman powers.
"Let's not forget, that they were not the most literate. That forced us to find some tricks, to find a kind of 'first' Gallic journalist, who would bring that document, an excerpt from Caesar's commentaries, to the Gallic village."
That conundrum led the authors to create the character of 'Confoundtheirpolitix,' an investigative journalist resembling Julian Assange who proves a thorn in the side of Julius Caesar.
"For our character, we only took his physical characteristics. The story of Assange was not a model for us, we wanted to show exactly that type of journalist, an enthusiastic one, so to speak. It was fun to imagine a Gallic journalist, perhaps even the first Gallic reporter."
"The character is called 'Doublepolemix' ['Confoundtheirpolitix' in the English version], we almost called him Wikilix but 'Doublepolemix' sounded better. You know, in France at the moment you can only hear polemic, counterpolemic, doublepolemic … that is its own kind of caricature."
Assange was not the only public figure to inspire a character in the latest issue, which in English is called 'Asterix and the Missing Scroll,' and is the 35th of the Adventures of Asterix series. The character of 'Bonuspromoplus,' an advisor to Caesar, was inspired by French advertising consultant Jacques Segal.
"In our comics we are not directly interested in hot topics, we don't discuss the latest news. We are only interested in society, information and control over information, and Assange was really an inspirational character for us here. The same happened with Bonuspromoplus," explained Ferri.
"Today communication is so important, that it is absolutely possible that this character will reappear in the next edition," said Ferri, explaining that the next issue will also seek to blend contemporary social commentary with historical fiction.
"In the 'great epoch' of Asterix' existence, in the 1960s and 1970s, that kind of topic was important, that's what the authors wrote about, they were talking about their time. Now years have passed, new themes have appeared, which allow us to illustrate the continuation of Asterix, and make it relevant for the new epoch."