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New Asterix adventure takes small Gaul to Scotland

media An advertisement for Astérix chez les Pictes on the Paris metro Isabelle Martinetti

French comic-book hero Asterix and his sidekick Obelix embarks on their first adventure in eight years on Thursday with the publication of five million copies of Asterix and the Picts, the 35th album in a series that started in 1959. They story takes them to Scotland for the first time.

Asterix and the Picts, released in 15 countries and 23 languages, including Scots and Gaelic, is the first not written and illustrated by at least one of the series' creators, Alberto Uderzo and René Goscinny.

It is the work of writer Jean-Yves Ferri and artist Didier Conrad.

Goscinny died in 1977 and Uderzo, who is now 86, took over the writing after his death.

He supervised the production of this edition, drawing the Obelix who features on the cover tossing the caber.

Ferri and Conrad were both born in the year that Goscinny and Uderzo created the plucky Gauls Asterix and Obelix and their village in Brittany that is the last bastion of resistance to the Roman invasion, thanks to a magic potion brewed by Druid Panoramix.

Since then 352 copies have been sold, 130 million in France, and the series has been published in 110 languages and dialects.

It has spawned four live-action films and a theme park just outside Paris.

Asterix and the Picts opens on a typically French gastronomic note.

The heroes are searching for oysters on the beach when they find a tattooed, red-headed hulk frozen in a block of ice.

He turns out to be Mac Oloch, a pict who has floated from "far-away" Scotland, the French being convinced that traditional Scottish surnames are split into two.

The two accompany him up north to win back his loved one, Camomilla, from the wicked Mac Abbeh and fight off the inevitable Roman invasion.

They are impressed by the Scottish sport of tossing the caber and by the Picts' fondness for fighting but less so by the kilt.

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