The artist's comic work was translated into over 100 languages and sold over 370 million copies worldwide

By Peter Mikelbank
March 24, 2020 01:21 PM
Chesnot/Getty

Asterix is in mourning.

Albert Uderzo, the artist who co-created France’s most celebrated cartoon character, Asterix, with the writer René Goscinny, has died at 92.

“Albert Uderzo died in his sleep at his home in Neuilly, after a heart attack that was not linked to the coronavirus. He had been extremely tired for the past several weeks,” his son-in-law Bernard de Choisy told Agence France-Presse news agency on Tuesday, according to CNN.

Often called “the Disney of France,” the artist’s comic work was translated into over 100 languages and sold over 370 million copies worldwide.

In addition to six decades of sales and a large and successful theme park outside Paris dedicated to the characters, Uderzo’s works have generated over two dozen full-length adaptions in both animated and live-action forms, including a series of four films starring Gerard Depardieu. A fifth live-action effort Asterix and the Silk Road, starring Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel and Guillaume Canet, is currently in the works.

Along with writer Rene Goscinny, who died in 1977, Uderzo debuted the combative Gaul warrior Asterix and his larger partner Obelix in 1959 for the first issue of French comic magazine, Pilot. The characters were conceived over a dining room table in Uderzo’s Bobigny apartment as a Laurel and Hardy-type team battling Roman invaders away from their villagers.

Containing an underlying adult humor, stealthy caricatures and inexplicable puns, the storyline of two warriors often strengthened by a wizard’s potion, has worked its magic for six decades in 38 different adventures.

Born in 1937 to a family Italian immigrants in the Marne, Uderzo was a self-taught artist who discovered comics, particularly Mickey Mouse, while he apprenticed to the illustrator Edmond Calvo. Goscinny and Uderzo later collaborated on a series of successful children’s strips for French and Belgian papers until approached to create something for Pilot’s launch .

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In 2011, Uderzo handed over the reins to a younger artist after drawing the beloved comic hero for 52 years, according to BBC News.

The Asterix series continues to this day under new ownership, with the most recent book, Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter, published last October.

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