In Memoriam: Albert Uderzo, co-creator of Asterix and Obelix

Albert Uderzo

Albert Uderzo. Image: asterix.com

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.

One of Albert Uderzo's last published pictures, when he came out of retirement for the Charlie Hebdo memorials

One of Albert Uderzo’s last published pictures, when he came out of retirement for the Charlie Hebdo memorials

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.

Comix #2 - Germany - cover credited to Albert Uderzo

Comix #2 – Germany – cover credited to Albert Uderzo

Comix #9 - Germany - cover credited to Albert Uderzo

Comix #9 – Germany – cover credited to Albert Uderzo

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.

Jehan Pistolet Integrale

Oumpah-Pah, created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo

Oumpah-Pah, created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo

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 TanguyTanguy 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.

"Tanguy et Laverdure" was published across Europe

“Tanguy et Laverdure” was published across Europe

Germany's Zack #7 featuring "Tanguy et Laverdure"

Germany’s Zack #7 featuring “Tanguy et Laverdure”

A page from "The Fighting Furies" from an issue of Lion cover dated 11th June 1966, re-publishing the first Tanguy and Laverdure story "L'Ecole des Aigles" in English. Storu by Jean-Michel Charlier, art by Albert Uderzo

A page from “The Fighting Furies” from an issue of Lion cover dated 11th June 1966, re-publishing the first Tanguy and Laverdure story “L’Ecole des Aigles” in English. Storu by Jean-Michel Charlier, art by Albert Uderzo

A Small Selection of Tributes to Albert Uderzo

Artist Bill Sienkiewicz mashup painting of Uderzo and Frazetta "because of course" he commented

Artist Bill Sienkiewicz mashup painting of Uderzo and Frazetta “because of course” he commented

“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.

Uderzo donated this original artwork to London’s Cartoon Museum in 1994

Uderzo donated this original artwork to London’s Cartoon Museum in 1994

“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.

Pilote 347 featuring Asterix, cover by Albert Uderzo

Pilote 347 featuring Asterix, cover by Albert Uderzo

“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.”

Paul has previously written an article about how Asterix crossed the channel and was published in the UK.

“Very sad,” noted screenwriter Peter Briggs. “I devoured every single one of his books as a kid. The pure raw fuel of our childhoods.”

A tribute to Albert Uderzo by David Gilson, author of the comic strip "Bichon" at Tchô / Glénat

A tribute to Albert Uderzo by David Gilson, author of the comic strip “Bichon” at Tchô / Glénat

“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.

John Freeman

René Goscinny as Asterix and Albert Uderzo as Obelix. Art by Uderzo

René Goscinny as Asterix and Albert Uderzo as Obelix. Art by Uderzo

WEB LINKS

Asterix and Obelix – Official Site

Buy Asterix books on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

• There are some fantastic art tributes to Albert Uderzo here and here on Twitter

Draw Asterix by James Howard

Draw Asterix by James Howard

• 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

Paul Gravett’s article about how Asterix crossed the channel and was published in the UK

Albert Uderzo on Wikipedia

Albert Uderzo on Lambiek

• In 2005 Uderzo spent a few days in Brussels. Stripspeciaalzaak’s exclusive, complete photo report from then can be found here

OBITUARIES

The Guardian: Asterix creator Albert Uderzo dies at 92

The Guardian: The art of Asterix: illustrator Albert Uderzo at work – in pictures

The Guardian: Illustrator Albert Uderzo drew me in to Asterix’s world with deftness and care – article by Nicholas Lezard

The Guardian: Asterix: a world of joyful innocence born in the aftermath of war – by Tom Holland

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

Belgium’s Strip Facts – News item and Links

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Obituaries

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