Albert Uderzo dies aged 92 at home from a heart attack.
Asterix illustrator Albert Uderzo has died at the age of 92, his family has announced.
The French comic book artist, who created the beloved Asterix comics in 1959 with the writer René Goscinny, died on Tuesday. He “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 AFP.
One of the best-loved characters in French popular culture, with more than 370 million albums sold worldwide, 11 films and an Asterix theme park, the small-statured Asterix is a warrior from Roman-occupied ancient Gaul, who together with his best friend Obelix and dog Dogmatix – Idéfix in the French original – takes pleasure in outwitting Roman legionnaires. Fortunately for Asterix, his friend Obelix fell into a cauldron of magic potion as a child, making him invincibly strong.
Each comic starts in the same way, before Asterix and his friends go on increasingly farflung adventures – in Asterix in Britain, he introduces tea to the ancient Britons. “The year is 50 BC. Gaul is entirely occupied by the Romans. Well, not entirely… One small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the invaders. And life is not easy for the Roman legionaries who garrison the fortified camps of Totorum, Aquarium, Laudanum and Compendium.”
Uderzo met Goscinny in 1951, and the pair began creating characters together, including Oompah-Pah, seen as a precursor to Asterix. In 1959, they were asked to create a magazine called Pilote, which would feature a “typically French hero”. They agreed to set their story in ancient Gaul, with the first issue published on 29 October 1959, featuring The Adventures of Asterix the Gaul on page 20. More than 300,000 copies were sold.
Goscinny died in 1977, during an exercise stress test for a medical check-up. Uderzo continued the adventures of Asterix alone. The Great Divide, the 25th Asterix album, was published in 1980 and was the first to be written and drawn by Uderzo alone. In 2009, Uderzo retired, selling the rights to the character to Hachette.