“If all this had happened to me when I was 20, I would have thought I was’ Mr. Asterix ””

Griffon Café, of course! Jean-Yves Ferri may have never set foot in this bar-restaurant at 4e arrondissement of Paris, it was there, a born entertainer, that he made an appointment to talk about the aptly named Asterix and the Griffin (Albert-René / Hachette, 44 pages, 9.99 euros), the new album of the adventures of the famous Gaul.

No eagle-headed lion, however, hangs on the wall. But a whole bric-a-brac of zebra in fake, Gainsbourg in plaster and period vinyls – the archetype, in short, of the bobo bistro, leagues from the rural South-West dear to the screenwriter, native Tarnais and Ariégeois of residence. In the absence of ale, go for two glasses of Pineau des Charentes, even if there is no question of Angoulême and its comic book festival during the aperitif.

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Jean-Yves Ferri can not help it but, like every two years, since he inherited the destinies of Asterix, alongside the designer Didier Conrad, he is in “promotion”, and the exercise makes him “Grumbler”. “When we finish the album, we say to ourselves that we did the job and that there is no need to do more, he half-grumbled. But hey, we’re not gonna spit in the soup either. “

The soup, it is true, is not bad: with an average of five million copies sold – two million in France, as many in Germany and a million in the rest of the world – the hero with the mustache and winged helmet is the champion in all categories of the French edition. The recipe for success is known: it is based on the regular release, every other year, of albums as similar as possible to those published at the time of the creators, René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo (who died in 1977 and 2020).

Art of nonsense

If the Gauls feared that the sky would fall on their heads, it was Asterix, born the same year as him (1959), who somehow “fell”, without warning, on Jean-Yves Ferri’s bald head. . Before taking part, in 2010, in a sort of scriptwriters’ competition organized on the sly by Hachette, he was already living comfortably from comics.

Written for Manu Larcenet, the series Return to Earth (Dargaud) had earned him the recognition of a large audience. A hilarious album drawn by his hand, De Gaulle at the beach (Dargaud, 2007), featuring the General during his paid vacation, had devoted his art of nonsense and quirky humor, in the tradition of his first hero, Aimé Lacapelle, a policeman driving a tractor.

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Fascinating trajectory that his when we think that it is to put “Sheltered from the outside world” that he had decided, as a child, to embrace the career of a designer. “When you’re young and start drawing, you know you’re not risking anything, confides the former student of the Beaux-Arts in Toulouse. We gain access to worlds from which we do not suffer either the consequences or the constraints. “ Asterix is ​​quite the opposite: maximum media exposure, commercial pressure from the same barrel, a culture of industrial secrecy which requires authors to share documents on an encrypted server. Not to mention the inherent risk of taking the “big head”: “If all of this had happened to me when I was 20, I would have definitely been eaten up by the stuff. I would have taken myself for “Mr. Asterix ”, which I am not, any more than I am René Goscinny. “

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