By Toutatis! Asterix still has the old magic

Under the title Le Ciel lui Tombe sur la Tête, or Asterix and the Falling Sky, the latest book will go on sale on 14 October in 27 countries.

The announcement of the title and unveiling of the front cover was made this week in Brussels, the city where the surviving illustrator, 78-year-old Albert Uderzo, met the author René Goscinny in the 1950s. Goscinny died in 1977 and this is the eighth book to be released since. Little detail has emerged of what new humiliations the wily Asterix and rotund Obelix will inflict on the Roman Empire.

But the illustrator did hint that the new cover would have echoes of his first, Asterix the Gaul, published in 1961. The series has since sold 300 million.

Uderzo said he believes he is "the only one who could keep this up because it doesn't work out very well when other people take over". Anyone else would "inevitably change characters". "I don't want readers to be disappointed," he said, adding that this book would not be the last.

"I enjoy what I'm doing despite my age and as long as I can find a good idea I will make another album," he said. Little wonder. The last title, Asterix and the Actress, sold 10 million copies.

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