Albert Uderzo, the co-creator of the Asterix comics series, has died. He was 92-years-old. The artist's family announced that the French artist died at home from a heart attack. "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 French news agency AFP. Uderzo's creation, the stout Gaulish warrior Asterix, is an icon in French popular culture. In addition to the more than 370 million comic book volumes sold worldwide, Asterix has starred in 11 films and headlines his own theme park, along with his invincible friend Obelix and dog Dogmatix.
Asterix debuted in the French magazine Pilote in 1959. Uderzo co-created the series with writer René Goscinny. Two years later, they launched the first standalone adventure of Asterix, Asterix the Gaul. They continued to collaborate on the series, seeing it translated into more than 100 languages until Goscinny's death in 1977. Uderzo then became the sole writer and artist of Asterix until he retired in 2009 and sold the rights to the series to publisher Hachette.
Parc Asterix, the theme park based on series located outside of Paris, opened in 1989. It has seen 50 million visitors since then.
Asterix stories focus on the titular hero, who is living Roman-occupied Gaul in 50 BC. With the help of a magic potion that gives him superhuman strength, Asterix harasses the Roman guards and protects his home — the one holdout against the Roman occupation — from the efforts of the Roman occupying force.
The series celebrated 60 years of adventures last year. Publisher Papercutz announced that it would take over the franchise's publishing rights in the United States, with plans to reprint Asterix's adventures in new collections and to release new non-fiction works examining the series' history.1comments
As a pillar of Franco-Belgian comics, also known as bande dessinée, Uderzo earned the respect and admiration of comic book writers and artists around the world. Mark Millar, the Scottish writer of Marvel's Civil War and creator of Kingsman, Wanted, and Kick-Ass, tweeted about Uderzo after learning of the artist's death. He writes, "RIP Albert Uderzo, my gateway drug to beautiful European comics... The Master!
Brazillian artist Rafael Albuquerque, co-creator of American Vampire, also tweeted about Uderzo, saying "Sad to hear about the passing of master Albert Uderzo. Believe it or not, one of my biggest influences in comics. Asterix was the first comic i’ve read, from my aunt’s bookshelf. With him I learnt about expression more than anyone. Merci maître!"
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