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Happy 50th, Asterix and Obelix

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This month, comic book heroes Asterix and Obelix turn 50 years old. The celebration of the odd couple's 50 years of adventures in Gaul begins today in Paris where L’Anniversaire d’Astérix et Obélix – Le Livre d’or, or Asterix and Obelix's Birthday - The Golden Book hits bookstore shelves.

The comic first appeared October 29, 1959 in the French comics magazine Pilote, according to the BBC. The comic's illustrator was Albert Uderzo. René Goscinny wrote the text. Goscinny died in 1977, but Uderzo is still at it, writing and illustrating the series.

Over time, the series characters have remained largely unchanged. All of the books feature Asterix, who is the tiny defender of his village against marauding Romans. The books also star his friend, Obelix, a portly Gaul with a penchant for wild boar. Obelix always has his pet canine Dogmatix in tow.

Since 1959 when it was first published, the comic has developed a large following. Asterix and Obelix books have sold 325 million copies that have been translated into 107 languages, according to the BBC.

The Golden Book is the thirty fourth in the series. It contains twelve stories in 56 pages. Orion releases the English version of the book January 5, 2010.

In Paris, the publisher, Les Éditions Albert René, has organized other events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the comic book heroes, including an Asterix and Obelix musical, a talk at the Sorbonne about the series, and a costume pageant on October 29, the BBC reported.