Albert Uderzo, the celebrated French illustrator and writer who created the beloved “Asterix” franchise with René Goscinny more than 60 years ago, has died. He was 92. Uderzo’s family told the French newswire AFP that he died in his sleep of a heart attack at his home in Neuilly, near Paris.
Created in 1959, the “Asterix” comic strip series comprises 38 volumes that have been translated into more than 100 languages and sold around the world.
It has also inspired several TV series and some of France’s highest-budget and most successful live-action movies, notably Alain Chabat’s 2002 film “Asterix and Obelix: Meet Cleopatra.” A new movie, “Asterix & Obelix, the Silk Road,” set to be directed by Guillaume Canet, is currently being co-developed by Pathé and will be partly set in China. Asterix is also the mascot of the French amusement park Parc Astérix which is located in the outskirts of Paris.
“Asterix” follows the adventures of a small yet fearless Gallic warrior who battles against Julius Caesar and his Roman legion who are trying to invade his village. Although he has modest means compared to the Roman army, the titular hero relies on a magic potion prepared by the village’s druids that gives him superpowers, and the help of his kind-hearted best friend Obelix who fell into the druid’s cauldron when he was a child.
Uderzo, who was primarily an illustrator, formed a prolific duo with Goscinny until the latter died in 1977. Besides “Asterix,” they created “L’Indien” and “Benjamin et Benjamine,” among many other comic books.”
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After he retired in 2011, Uderzo tapped Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad to take over the franchise. The last “Asterix” album, “La Fille de Vercingétorix,” was published in 2019 to mark the 60th anniversary of “Asterix.”
Uderzo, who was born in Northern France in 1934 to a family of Italian immigrants, started his career working as an illustrator for a children’s magazine and was mentored by Edmond Calvo, the cartoonist and author of “The Beast is Dead — The World War of Animals.”