French artist Albert Uderzo, who co-created the much-loved comic series Asterix, died on Tuesday. Mr. Uderzo, age 92, died of a heart attack, but his famous characters Asterix and Obelix will continue.
Mr. Uderzo was born in Reims, France in 1927. After World War II, he began to illustrate comics. In 1952, he met up with René Goscinny. The two worked on several projects – with Mr. Goscinny writing and Mr. Uderzo drawing – before coming up with Asterix in 1959.
Asterix had an unusual theme for a comic book. It focused on a small, but brave warrior defending his village from Roman invaders during the time of Julius Caesar, over 2,000 years ago. In the stories, Asterix’s village is the only part of an area called Gaul that the Romans have not yet taken over. Gaul was roughly where modern-day France is.
Asterix wasn’t exactly a superhero, but people in the village could gain incredible strength by drinking a magic potion, which gave them superpowers. But Asterix was very clever, and often wound up using his brain instead of his strength to solve problems.
Many of the Asterix stories focused on life in the village, and defending it from the Roman attackers. But in other stories, Asterix sets out for other lands looking for adventure with his trusty friend Obelix.
Even though the idea for Asterix was unusual, when the comic first appeared in a magazine, it was a hit right away.
When the first book came out in 1961, it sold 6,000 copies. Just four years later the fifth book sold 300,000 copies. When the ninth Asterix book came out in 1967, 1.2 million copies were sold in just two days.
The Asterix books were very popular in France, but they also saw huge success across Europe and around the world. The books have been translated into more than 100 languages. By 2017, 370 million Asterix books had been sold.
Many of the Asterix books have been turned into movies. There have also been 15 Asterix board games and 40 Asterix video games. There is even an amusement park called Parc Asterix in Paris. In 1965, when France sent its first satellite into space, it was named Astérix-1.
Mr. Uderzo’s partner, Mr. Goscinny, died in 1977. To keep up with the demands of fans, Mr. Uderzo took on the writing as well as the drawing, and kept creating new books.
Finally, in 2011, Mr. Uderzo gave up creating new Asterix books. Since then, the Asterix books are being produced by a new writer/artist team from France.
Mr. Uderzo has passed away, but his funny characters and exciting stories will live on.