Each Asterix comic starts with the following introduction:
The year is 50 BC. Gaul is entirely occupied by the Romans. Well, not entirely… One small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the invaders. And life is not easy for the Roman legionaries who garrison the fortified camps of Totorum, Aquarium, Laudanum and Compendium…
The series follows the adventures of a village of Gauls as they resist Roman occupation in 50 BCE. They do so by means of a magic potion, brewed by their druid Getafix (Panoramix in the French version), which temporarily gives the recipient superhuman strength. The protagonists, the title character Asterix and his friend Obelix, have various adventures. The “-ix” ending of both names (as well as all the other pseudo-Gaulish “-ix” names in the series) alludes to the “-rix” suffix (meaning “king”) present in the names of many real Gaulish chieftains such as Vercingetorix, Orgetorix, and Dumnorix.
In many of the stories, they travel to foreign countries, though other tales are set in and around their village. For much of the history of the series (Volumes 4 through 29), settings in Gaul and abroad alternated, with even-numbered volumes set abroad and odd-numbered volumes set in Gaul, mostly in the village.
The Asterix series is one of the most popular Franco-Belgian comics in the world, with the series being translated into 111 languages and dialects as of 2009.
The success of the series has led to the adaptation of its books into 13 films: nine animated, and four live action (one of which, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, was a major box office success in France). There have also been a number of games based on the characters, and a theme park near Paris, Parc Astérix. The very first French satellite, Astérix, launched in 1965, was also named after the comics character. As of 2017, 370 million copies of Asterix books have been sold worldwide, with co-creators René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo being France’s best-selling authors abroad.