Friday Fun: Asterix books contain 704 victims of brain injury, study finds

Sep 02 2011 Published by under friday fun

I have fond memories of reading the Asterix graphic novels as a kid, both in the original French and especially in the absolutely brilliant English translations -- I'm told quite reliably by my wife, who's a translator, that they are the best she's ever seen. My own kids also really loved them and they were among their favourites for bedtime reading.

Basically, the books are about a bunch of crazy ancient Gaul's who are resisting the Roman occupation, with the help of a bit of magic potion. Let's just say there's a lot of shenanigans and Roman-bashing.

I like this take on the series, from The Guardian's review of a recent study: Asterix books contain 704 victims of brain injury, study finds.

By Toutatis! A group of academics have analysed the traumatic brain injuries in the Asterix comics, identifying 704 head injury victims in the 34 books.

A paper published in the European Journal of Neurosurgery, Acta Neurochirurgica, examines the much-loved books in detail, discovering that of the 704 victims, 698 were male and 63.9% were Roman. One hundred and twenty were Gauls, 59 were bandits or pirates, 20 were Goths, 14 were Normans, eight were Vikings, five were Britons and four were extraterrestrials.


The paper concludes, in admirably deadpan fashion, that "the favourable outcome ... is astonishing, since outcome of traumatic brain injuries in the ancient world is believed to have been worse than today and also since no diagnostic or therapeutic procedures were performed".

The study is Traumatic brain injuries in illustrated literature: experience from a series of over 700 head injuries in the Asterix comic books by Marcel A. Kamp, Philipp Slotty, Sevgi Sarikaya-Seiwert, Hans-Jakob Steiger and Daniel Hänggi and is in Acta Neurochirurgica: The European Journal of Neurosurgery, volume 153, number 6, 1351-1355. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be an OA version.

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