Indomitable Gauls, Romans, magic potion…and Lapinot! But what is this improbable zoomorphic hero doing in the universe created by Goscinny and Uderzo? In fact, the funny rabbit seems to have been teleported to a series that is not his. Imagined by Lewis Trondheim, this quirky and irreverent scenario sticks to the constraints of the OuBaPo: a delightful mise en abyme that plays with all the usual Franco-Belgian codes… Including those of the derivative albums “Vu par…”!
Let’s take it all back. “Asterix” appears for the first time in the newspaper Pilot on October 29, 1959. The names of Bélénos (god of medicine and spring), Toutatis (god of war) or Belisama (goddess of metallurgy), all cited from the first adventure of “Asterix the Gaul”, popularized among young people a part of the Celtic pantheon. Over the albums, other Gallic gods will in turn be mentioned (for example Cernunnos – the god of the dead – and Taranis – the god of thunder – in 1972 in “Le Devin”) without reducing the popularity of the initial trio. Among these, Toutatis takes a special place, probably because its phonetic evocation recalls the Gaulish endings (and the puns of Goscinny…) associated with the “is” or to “ix”. Probably also because the name Toutatis (literally meaning “Father of the Nation”) refers to related terms and expressions: ” absolutely », “try everything”even “all risks”. In the rare Roman sources that mention it in the 1er century, Toutatis is no laughing matter, however: a possible Celtic equivalent of Mars, this warrior god only seems to be appeased by the blood of victims, shed on the battlefield or during sacrifices in his honor. He will therefore also be the one who judges the dead, deciding on the reincarnation they deserve…
In fact of incarnation and reincarnation, the Lapinot created by Trondheim arises there! Officially started in 1997 with “Slaloms”, the series of “Formidables Aventures de Lapinot” (nine titles published by Dargaud until 2003) will be relaunched in 2017 with an infernal pace (nine titles have already been published; see the chronicle of Henri Filippini ) under the title “Les Nouvelles Aventures de Lapinot”. Also counting derivative albums (where we will generally follow secondary characters, in particular the cat Richard Mammoth), this crazy universe owes everything to its initial challenge. In 1992, on a bet, the co-founder of L’Association indeed embarked on a risky exercise in style: drawing a 500-page adventure, without a script or prior sketching, and setting himself the constraint of a waffle iron format of three boxes on four. This is how the album “Lapinot et les carottes de Patagonie” was created, published in 1992 and reissued in 1995 and 2003. Launched on a folkloric mission and having to overcome all the obstacles, Lapinot therefore appears there, borrowing his name from a character by Jean-Christophe Menu: Lapot (Futuropolis, 1987). But this extraordinary album will remain as an essay, not included in the end in the chronology of the titles of the series. In each case, Lapinot crosses a known genre or environment: the western, Victorian England, Paris in the XXe century, the world of “Spirou and Fantasio” (see “The Atomic Accelerator” in 2003), the civilizational apocalypse, etc. In 2004, Trondheim even drew Lapinot’s death in “La Vie comme ellevient”, but nevertheless relaunched his character, as we said in 2017. From then on, supposed to take place in a parallel universe, “Les Nouvelles Aventures de Lapinot” were going to decline the themes of the double, the mask and the reincarnation.
Quirky spirit obliges, no one will be surprised to have seen the T7 pass (“Noon to fourteen hours”) in August 2021, while the present “By Toutatis! » is well… the T6 of « Nouvelles Aventures de Lapinot »! More seriously, Trondheim, who had started his Lapinot-Astérix before the next opus, stops after 12 pages when he realizes that the scheduled release date (2021) coincides with… the actual release of the new “Astérix” album. » ; here is the parody postponed to 2022, without changing anything however in the numbering, since, said the author: “the even albums of the series are out of the ordinary”. Consequently catapulted into the universe (and skin) of Asterix, Lapinot quite logically meets Obélix, Getafix or other well-known Gauls there, in the village or in the forest. Only problems, not only does an impostor pretend to be the god of war, but – above all – the effects of the magic potion leave traces: Romans reduced to mush, arms torn off and other minor consequences of a tenfold strength: ” It’s the war “ concludes Obélix in front of a mortified Lapinot-Asterix… Beyond the winks of this iconoclastic album “Seen by…”, Trondheim is no longer up to a challenge and graphic game ready: OuBapo obliges, the author is experienced in ‘exercise. A chase over 120 pages (“Mildew”, 1994)? A box made per day (“Les Herbes folles”, 2019)? Nothing can resist the creative madness of Trondheim: so why not an “Asterix” with Lapinot? The relatively old idea was first mentioned in 1998 in a fax and a sketch sent to Guy Vidal, editor at Dargaud. It will reappear in the luxury version of the T1, published by L’Association. In the end, and without revealing too much the various twists, misunderstandings and psychological reflections of this opus, let us dare to affirm that Trondheim has once again succeeded in its coup: to make people smile through an adventure as facetious as it is respectful of the original universe. Goscinny and Uderzo would no doubt have appreciated the second – do we remember? – having discreetly paid homage to his brilliant screenwriter friend by drawing, at the corner of the last box of “Asterix among the Belgians” (1979), a… little rabbit, leaving the banquet crying. This time, we bet that readers will keep smiling as they close the album.
“The New Adventures of Lapinot T6: By Toutatis! by Lewis Trondheim
Association Editions (€14.00) – EAN: 978-2-84414-896-4
Publication June 17, 2022
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Trondheim cooks its “Rabbit” the Gaulish way…
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