In the Days of Good Queen Cleo

Call him Beric

An article in the Guardian stopped me in my tracks today, and for once in a good way.

I didn’t know the bit about the Valiant (which contained many great strips of those giddy days of Sixties yore) and Little Fred, but I sure as shooting remember Asterix in his very early guise as Beric, an Ancient Briton, in the pages of Ranger, though I read it in our School Library when I started at Burnage Grammar School, by when it had merged with the purely educational Look & Learn (though Ranger and its host studiously ignored each other, the comic being a pull-out supplement).

Yes, Asterix was Beric and Getafix was Doric, and Obelix was the wonderfully titled Son of Boadecia, and they were presented as Ancient Britons, not French, in stories titled ‘In the Days of Good Queen Cleo’ (Asterix and Cleopatra) and ‘No, Britons will never be Slaves’ (Asterix and the Good Fight) and this isn’t mere memory at work, but through the Stockport Freecycle web-site, in the mid-2000s, I once got a near complete collection of ‘Look and Learn’, and all the subsequent ‘Ranger’ supplements (whose comics section was, Beric and Doric aside, pretty naff.)

The translations were simpler and more straightforward, as befitted the fact that the stories were being aimed solely at children, and on account of the fact those early translators were not the sublime Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge, but of course the stories were the same and the captions and dialogue strove to impart the same ideas, and it was all great fun, and I loved the idea of Son of Boadicea as a name.

And it’s nice to be reminded and to not be the only one who remembers ‘In the Days of Good Queen Cleo’.

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