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Asterix and the Picts strikes chord in Scottish independence campaign

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Asterix is back and he’s surrounded by whisky drinking, bagpipe playing, kilt sporting Scotsmen. In between encounters with the Loch Ness Monster and the culinary delights of haggis, he has unwittingly stumbled into the heated debate over Scottish independence. The pint sized Gaul and his big boned friend Obelix head to the Highlands in the newest comic, Asterix and the Picts, which gleefully trades on gentle stereotypes in its own inimitable style while Scottish nationalists seize on his latest adventure as an allegory for their own political narrative.

After a red haired Scot turns up in their village frozen in ice and in need of help, the two indomitable Gauls charge north for comedy and Roman bashing, as they seek to protect the Picts from the incoming legions.

Asterix and the Picts is the 35th book in the classic series of comics created by illustrator Albert Uderzo and writer Rene Goscinny in 1959 that have sold 352 million copies worldwide. The Asterix phenomenon has continued apace despite the death in 1977 of René Goscinny , but this is the first Asterix comic that did not have one of the original pair at the helm. Instead, writer Jean-Yves Ferri and artist Didier Conrad have taken up the mantle, and with queues forming around Paris bookshops, anticipation is running high.

"There are characters in kilts, of course. And whisky. We tried to find a Celtic tone," said writer Ferri.

But the modern descendants of the Picts have seized on this story of rugged independence for the referendum campaign

"(We are) animated by an endorsement from such a prestigious character, but, as ever, we would have to check that he is registered to vote," the "Yes Scotland" campaign said in a statement.

But Ferri, back in Paris after visiting Scotland to promote the book, denied any such parallels

"I went to Scotland to show the idea to the Scots. They were happy we thought about them and asked me 'Why Scotland?' And in particular they thought it was because of this referendum, when in fact not at all," he told Reuters TV.

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