Asterix and Obelix's birthdays
Ever since Albert Uderzo treated us to a high-spirited family reunion to celebrate the joint birthday of our two heroes in the first pages of Asterix and the Actress, some guardians of the Gaulish temple have been sending him incendiary missives arguing that, sacrilege, Obelix's birthday had already been celebrated in Obelix and Co. And that there was no mention of a gift for his famous accomplice. Had Albert Uderzo been caught showing a flagrant lack of general knowledge about Asterix? Of course not! The proof can be found in an interview given by the author to our virtual Village during preparations for Asterix and the Actress. After revealing that Asterix's birthday would play an important role in the new story, Albert responded to the question "This isn't the first birthday that you've celebrated, is it?": "That's right, we've already celebrated Obelix's birthday! Asterix's has never been celebrated, except for during the commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the series when I had fun imagining his birth in the Journal Exceptionnel, a special edition newspaper published in France, Italy, Germany and Spain. At the time, I said that he was born on the same day and at the same time as Obelix, and ever since I've kind of been a prisoner of that!"
Proof, if proof was needed, that this was no error but was in fact a conscious choice made by the author. Moreover, any attentive reader of Asterix and the Actress can read direct allusions to the precedent of Obelix and Co. On plate 2, panels 5 and 6, Obelix imagines himself receiving a Roman legion as a present and lets slip a "Hee! Hee! Hee!" which bears a certain resemblance to the Gauls'mysterious replies in "Obelix and Co." (plate 3, panel 6 for example). All of which goes to show that Albert Uderzo knows his Asterix like the back of his hand and treats his more attentive readers to some died-in-the-wool Gaulish private jokes!
Any remaining grumblers may be still wondering why Asterix doesn't get a present in Obelix and Co. Albert Uderzo may not have answered that question, but it's not hard to see that it must have been Asterix, his most loyal friend, who organised the made-to-measure festivities for Obelix (just think: an entire Roman legion as a birthday present!). His role as a driving force behind the party preparations is made apparent in plate 4, panel 9 of the album, when he asks Getafix's advice before putting his plan into operation. Given the context, you'll admit that Asterix could hardly lead the whole Village in preparing his own present! Such an undertaking required getting everyone involved and could only lead Asterix to brush aside his own birthday. But no doubt giving Obelix such a great surprise was the best way for Asterix to celebrate their joint birthday.
We leave the last word to Albert Uderzo, who explains that this birthday serves above all as a unifying symbol in this utopian Armorican Village, "In fact, it's a bit like the birth of the whole Asterix family, of the Village itself. The real birth is the one that took seed in our minds, René Goscinny and myself, in 1959, when we created Asterix over numerous glasses of pastis." Zigackly!