Many tributes from across the globe have paid to artist Albert Uderzo this week, illustrator and co-creator of famous comic series Asterix, who died on Tuesday, aged 92.
His son-in-law Bernard de Choisy told Agence France Presse Uderzo “died in his sleep at his home in Neuilly, in western Paris, after a heart attack that was not linked to the coronavirus.
“He had been extremely tired for the past several weeks,” he said.
“It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of Albert Uderzo, the co-creator of Asterix with René Goscinny,” a tribute stated on the official Asterix web site.
“For more than 60 years, Asterix has aroused in millions of readers around the world, page after page, and with each re-reading, a pleasure and a deep joy. Becoming a real myth, the little Gaul is today part of the universal literary and artistic heritage, and will continue for a long time to carry its values of tolerance and resistance in its adventures.
“Beyond the immense artist that he was, we lose an exceptional man, whom all those who had the chance to meet him cherished.
“We send our sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Albert Uderzo”.
Albert Uderzo and author René Goscinny co-created the French comic series about a small village of ancient Gauls in 1959, who successfully resist a Roman occupation of their country, aided in their battles by both a strength-giving magic potion and, simply, being far cleverer than most of the invaders!
Uderzo was initially the illustrator of the comic strip that first appeared in the magazine, Piloté, written by Goscinny, who died in 1977, and continued to write and illustrate the series until retiring in 2009.
From humble beginnings, Asterix has gone on to become a mainstay in the publishing industry across the globe with more than 380 million albums sold, in over 100 different languages, the early stories most successfully translated into English by Derek Hockridge and Anthea Bell.
In addition to Asterix, Uderzo also created other long-running series, including the humorous pirate series Jehan Pistolet (1952-1956) and the brawny Native American Oumpah-Pah (1958-1962), both scripted by Goscinny. Uderzo was also one of the founding fathers of the comics magazine, Pilote.
He also drew the comic series Tanguy et Laverdure created by the prolific author Jean-Michel Charlier. Uderzo had previously tried to seek publication for test pilot-inspired strip, “Marc Laurent“.
Initially titled Michel Tanguy, Tanguy et Laverdure debuted in the first issue of the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Pilote in October 1959, providing the anthology with a competitor to the similar series,”Buck Danny”, serialised in Spirou, and “Dan Cooper”, which appeared in Tintin magazine.
Uderzo leaves behind his wife of more than 70 years, Ada, and a daughter, Sylvie.
A Small Selection of Tributes to Albert Uderzo
“So sad to hear of Albert Uderzo’s passing,” commented artist Francesco Francavilla. “I grew up reading Asterix, which first appeared in print 61 years ago in the French mag Pilote … Au revoir, Albert, merci for all the entertaining stories.”
“I remember a brief period in the mid 70s when there was a syndicated newspaper strip version,” noted writer and performer David J. Loehr. “My mother cut them out and saved them because she remembered Asterix from her time in Paris. And ‘it’s funnier in French,’ which is why I took that in school.”
“I have many fond memories of sitting in the kid’s library as a small child, reading Asterix books while Mum looked for something new to read outside,” wrote writer Tony Lee. “They’re one of the books that got me into reading. Still love them even now.
“I’ve still got the Asterix books I had when I was a kid and remember trying (and failing) to copy those drawings,” commented artist Dan Berry. “Wouldn’t be where I am without Asterix.”
“A true giant of comics whose work was formative for many, leaving an indelible mark on the field of illustration,” commented the team at Foyles Bookshop.
“We have lost one of the truly great creators of comics in this world,” commented Paul Gravett, who recalled on Facebook that, “Back in 1994, when I was Project Director at the Cartoon Art Trust and running their first big gallery space in Carriage Row, Eversholt Street north of Euston, Albert Uderzo was invited to London and we organised a reception in his honour.
“Completely charming, he generously donated a stunning piece of original Asterix artwork to the Trust’s collection, a front cover of this 1966 summer special of Pilote magazine, showing Asterix, Obelix and Dogmatix heading off on holiday in their chariot, the sign ‘G’ for Gaul on the rear.
“I had also found out that Uderzo was a big fan of motor racing, so a highlight of the reception was introducing him to Stirling Moss.”
“Very sad,” noted screenwriter Peter Briggs. “I devoured every single one of his books as a kid. The pure raw fuel of our childhoods.”
“Uderzo was one of my earliest and most important influences in drawing,” said artist Jo Lott. “Thanks for everything!”
“Young and old, here and there, we thank you for having made us laugh, dream, learn,” commented the team from London’s French Institute. “Rest in peace, par Toutatis!”
Thank you, Albert Uderzo, and René Goscinny, for making me laugh so much as both child and adult with your wonderful Asterix stories. Condolences to family and friends. Your wit, wisdom and undoubted talent will be missed.
• The passing of Albert Uderzo passing prompted James Howard to bring back the #Draw project for #DrawAsterix on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #DrawAsterix – it can be any aspect of Asterix. His revival tweet is here
• In 2005 Uderzo spent a few days in Brussels. Stripspeciaalzaak’s exclusive, complete photo report from then can be found here
• The Guardian: Illustrator Albert Uderzo drew me in to Asterix’s world with deftness and care – article by Nicholas Lezard
Goscinny and Uderzo’s cheery comic-book parodies reflected none of the real horror of Roman imperialism – and painted an irresistible portrait of postwar Europe