French comic book artist and scriptwriter Albert Uderzo, best known for co-creating Astérix comics with writer René Goscinny, passed away on March 24, 2020. He was 92 years old.
“Albert Uderzo died in his sleep at his home in Neuilly from a heart attack unrelated to the coronavirus. He had been very tired for several weeks.” his son-in-law, Bernard de Choisy, told Agence France-Presse news agency.
Born to Italian immigrants in 1927, Uderzo first came in contact with the arts when he was in kindergarten. He later discovered American comics, particularly the early works of Walt Disney. Although he enjoyed sketching and the arts, Uberzo did not yet aim to become a professional artist. After he finished his basic education at the age of 13, he decided to follow his brother into aircraft engineering. Eventually, he met Goscinny and the two quickly became good friends. They began working together at the Paris office of Word Press in 1952. Among their early creations were the characters Oumpah-pah, Jehan Pistolet and Luc Junior.
They later adapted Oumpah-pah for serial publication in the magazine Tintin, where it ran from 1958 to 1962. Goscinny and Uderzo went on to become editor and artistic director, respectively, of Pilote magazine. The Astérix series, which follows a warrior in 50 BC who is gifted super-strength after falling into a magic potion, debuted in October 1959 and quickly developed a cult following. Astérix became one of the best-loved characters in French popular culture, selling more than 370 million albums worldwide, spawning 11 films and even an Asterix theme park in Paris.
Following Goscinny’s death in 1977, Uderzo continued to write and illustrate the books on his own with the cover credits still reading “Goscinny and Uderzo.” Aside from Astérix, Uderzo also collaborated with Jean-Michel Charlier on the realistic series Michel Tanguy, later named Les Aventures de Tanguy et Laverdure. Uderzo officially retired in 2011, passing the Astérix series onto writer Jean-Yves Ferri and artist Didier Conrad. Throughout his career, Uderzo was awarded the Knight of the Legion of Honour, the Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion and was inducted into the Eisner Award Hall of Fame.