After months of anticipation from die-hard fans, editors of the new adventures of Asterix and his faithful round friend Obelix on Wednesday finally unveiled the front cover and launch date.
"Asterix and the Picts" - which will see the two boisterous Gauls meet the people of ancient Scotland- comes out on October 24 in 15 countries and 23 languages, including Gaelic and Scots.
Editors have decided to print five million copies of this latest opus - the 35th in the Asterix comic book series. "We should be able to last 15 days with that," Isabelle Magnac of the Editions Albert Rene jokingly told reporters.
The Asterix series - created by illustrator Albert Uderzo and writer Rene Goscinny in 1959 - is a bestseller in the comic book world, with 352 million copies sold worldwide and translations in more than 110 languages and dialects. Over the years, the two characters from ancient Gaul have met Cleopatra, drunk tea with the English, taken part in the Olympic Games, eaten countless roasted boars and beaten up scores of Romans.
The front cover of their latest adventure depicts Obelix in full caber toss, a traditional Scottish event in which competitors throw a large pole made out of a tree trunk - no feat for the superhuman Gaul who fell in a pot of magic potion when he was a baby.
Asterix, meanwhile, sits on a rock, winking at the reader as he points to his friend, while a motley group of kilt-wearing Picts laugh in the background.
The storyline, however, remains a mystery. "It takes place in Scotland and it is obviously a Celtic tale," said Jean-Yves Ferri, the writer chosen to craft the new comic book.
He refused to reveal any more details. But he assured readers that Asterix and Obelix's weary Roman enemies would be present, as would epic battles and plenty of "bonks!" and "plafs!".
The comic book series has always been an intimate affair. Uderzo took over the writing when Goscinny died in 1977, and "Asterix and the Picts" is the first of the books to be written and illustrated by two entirely new people- Ferri and illustrator Didier Conrad.
Uderzo announced he quit drawing in 2011 but he told reporters Wednesday he had nevertheless closely supervised the comic book. The 85-year-old even drew the Obelix featured on the cover.
And for those impatient fans, a few more details were leaked at the briefing - there will be a love story, more women than before, whisky and Gauls kitted out with kilts. – AFP/Relaxnews, October 7, 2013.