Albert Uderzo, co-creator of Astérix the Gaul died last night in his sleep, in his home in Neuilly, France, after suffering a heart attack, at the age of 92. His death was unrelated to the current coronavirus pandemic.
The character, one of the most popular comic book characters and franchises in the world, had just celebrated his sixtieth anniversary with a new book, The Chieftain's Daughter, which burned through its first print run of five million, as well as new films, theme park rides, currency and events across the world. A new American English translation was planned to begin in May (now delayed).
Albert Uderzo was born in France in 1927 to Italian Immigrants. After a number of years in children's illustration and co-launching a comics syndicate and agency (doing up to nine pages a week), he created Asterix with Goscinny in 1959, inspired by the works of Walt Disney since his early childhood starting with the 1st Journal de Mickey, they created a character who would rival Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck around the world, and in Europe, comfortably beat them. Uderzo also drew Jehan Pistolet, the corsair, Oumpah-Pah, the native American, Luc Junior, reporter and Benjamin and Benjamine, the story of a hectic couple. But nothing would rival Asterix.
Astérix is the main character in a village of holdout Gauls who were never vanquished by the occupying Roman army. One reason they've successfully held off the Roman forces is a magic potion that the village's druid Getafix knows how to concoct that makes all the village's citizens super-powerful, for short period of time. Though his companion Obelix was dropped in the potion as a baby and retains his strength at all times. The Astérix albums have been published in 111 languages and dialects and have sold over 400 million copies in total. Recently, original art pages of his from the series sold for around two million dollars each.
In 1959, Goscinny and Uderzo were founders as well as editor and artistic director respectively of Pilote magazine, debuting Asterix. By the late sixties, Pilote turned to an older audience pioneering an absolute revolution in comics styles, narration and sophisticatio, launching many famous and innovative comics authors, helping to raise comic art into a full-fledged art form. Goscinny died suddenly of cardiac arrest in 1977 at the age of 51, with twenty-four volumes of Asterix were complete. Uderzo continued to write and illustrate the Asterix books on his own, publishing ten further volumes, an the cover credits still read "Goscinny and Uderzo." He retired from writing and drawing in 2011 but still oversees Asterix and the current publications by prominent French comics artists, Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad.
- 1959: First appearance, October 29, in the magazine Pilote.
- 1961: Publication of the first Asterix album, Asterix the Gaul.
- 6,000: Copies for the initial printing of the first album.
- 38: Number of albums published through October 24, 2019.
- 111: Number of languages and dialects translated into (including Latin!).
- 380 million: Number of albums sold worldwide since 1959 until 2019.
- 50 million: Number of visitors at Astéerix Parc for 30 years
- 5 million: number of copies distributed to date of the 38th album The Chieftain's Daughter, October 24. An unparalleled success in the field of global publishing.
- Every volume began… 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.