PARIS (Reuters) - Asterix, the pint-sized Gaul forever outfoxing the Romans, returns for his 37th comic adventure on Thursday, this time battling his way across Italy in a chariot race.
The hero, who has been entertaining readers with his magic-potion exploits alongside Obelix since 1959, has become a mainstay in the publishing industry.
As well as being translated into more than 100 languages, the books have inspired a dozen movies and cartoon series.
The original books, written by Rene Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo, built up a mass following in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
After Goscinny's death in 1977, Uderzo wrote and illustrated the series until he retired in 2009. The last three editions have been written by Jean-Yves Ferri and drawn by Didier Conrad, sticking closely to the original format.
With the Asterix movies proving box-office successes, the books have attracted a new, younger generation of followers.
That is reflected in the print run for Asterix And The Chariot Race, with five million copies planned.