Inspired by Joseph Mankiewicz’s film “Cleopatra”, it is only logical that, when writing Asterix and Cleopatra , René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo should include a real “bad guy”, someone worthy of the dastardly foes of James Bond.
Complete with terrifying grimaces and the sly pleasure he takes in dreaming up devious stratagems (with each underhanded scheme he exclaims “I’ve got it! It’s a piece of cake”, with a gruesome smile on his lips), Artifis fills the bill perfectly! He brims with ideas to make life difficult for his rival, the architect Edifis, to whom Cleopatra has entrusted the most prestigious building project ever - a sumptuous palace to be constructed in honour of Julius Caesar in just three months.
Enter Artifis, and the stage is set to thwart this ambitious project: he urges the workers to revolt, plots to delay the arrival of stone, locks our heroes in a pyramid, offers a poisoned cake to Cleopatra on behalf of the Gauls, to name just a few. It’s tough on Edifis, but what a treat for us readers! In fact, you have to wonder whether there isn’t material here for another great film…