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Goscinny and Uderzo

Goscinny and Uderzo
Goscinny and Uderzo are the creators of the hugely popular comic series 'Asterix and Obelix'. This article gives a brief biography about the artist-writer duo.
Penlighten Staff
The popular comic series 'Asterix and Obelix' was created by the artist-writer duo Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny.

Albert Uderzo

Albert Uderzo, a Frenchman of Italian origin, was born on 25 April 1927, in Normandy. As a child, he was fascinated by Mickey Mouse and showed such an aptitude for drawing caricatures that he was hired as a Junior Artist by the Paris Publishing Society in 1940. Calvo, the famous comic artist, also worked here around about this time, and he greatly encouraged the new, thirteen-year-old artist.

Uderzo had become quite experienced in calligraphy and photo editing by the time his apprenticeship was interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War. He spent the war period in Bretagne, working first on a farm and then helping his father in his furniture business. He returned to Paris to resume his art career in 1945, and his first comic strips 'Flamberge' and 'Les aventures de Clopinard' were published. He did some work on the animated cartoon film 'Clic-Clac', and joined the artistic staff of O.K. Magazine. Here, between 1947 and 1948, he created some successful characters like 'Arys Buck', 'Le Prince Rollin', and 'Belloy l'Invulnerable'. He joined France Dimanche in 1949 as a reporter and illustrator, and drew the comics 'Le crime ne paie pas' for France-Soir.

The 1950s saw him working on 'Captain Marvel Jr.' for Bravo Magazine and traveling to Brussels to work on 'Belloy' with the writer Jean-Michel Charlier for La Wallonie Magazine. In Brussels, he also met many other talented and well-known artists like Mitacg, Victor Hubinon, and Eddy Paape, all of whom had a profound influence on his work. More importantly, he met Rene Goscinny with whom he quickly struck up a long-lasting friendship. Their first creation together was 'Jehan Pistolet', the Pirate, and 'Luc Junior', both showcased in La Libre Junior until 1957.

From 1958 to 1962, they worked on the series concerning the Red Indian, 'Oumpah Pah', for Tintin Magazine, and from 1962 to 1967, on the realistically rendered Aviator heroes 'Tanguy et Laverdure' with writer Jean Michel Charlier. 'Der Rote Korsar' series followed after this, and then came 'Asterix the Gaul'. He got his own separate album in 1961, and soon proved to be so popular that after 1967 Goscinny and Uderzo began concentrating wholly on this new series. After the death of Goscinny, Uderzo continued with the Asterix series on his own. Uderzo's work was honored by his home country in 1985, when he was awarded with the Knight of the Legion of Honor. This was followed by the honor of the Grand Prix des Arts Graphiques 1986 from the French culture minister Jack Lang.

Rene Goscinny

Rene Goscinny was born in Paris, on 14 August 1926, to a Polish father and a Ukrainian mother. He moved with his parents to Argentina in 1928 at the age of two, and spent his formative years in Buenos Aires. His father was a mathematics teacher at the French School there, and Goscinny attended the same, showing a remarkable proficiency in the arts. Many of his early works were published in the school magazines, Notre Voix and Quartier Latin.

Only a month after he graduated in Fine Arts, in 1942, Goscinny's father unexpectedly died and financial issues made it imperative that he take a job as a bookkeeper at a Tire Factory. Later, after he was laid off, he attempted to get back in the art stream by taking a job as a junior illustrator at an advertising agency. He wasn't very successful there, and when his uncle issued an invitation to join him in New York in 1945, he gladly moved to Brooklyn with his mother. For a while, he worked as a translator and then was drafted into the Army. However, he saw no battle action although he served in France during the end of the Second World War.

Returning to Brooklyn after his discharge, he attempted to find work as an artist once more and was unsuccessful again―this time as a result of his poor command overthe English language. His luck changed in 1948. This was the year he found employment as an assistant in a small studio, and here he came in contact with the artists Maurice de Bevere (who signed his work as Morris and with whom Goscinny was to collaborate for twenty years on the comic strip 'Lucky Luke') and Harvey Kurtzman, who both encouraged and aided him work-wise. It was through Harvey Kurtzman that he came to know the American artists and soon-to-be founders of MAD Magazine, Willy Elder, Jack Davis, and John Severin.

About a year later, his work had improved to such an extent that it caught the attention of Georges Troisfontaines, the Director of the World Press Agency in Brussels, Belgium. Goscinny went to Belgium to meet him and also met the Art Director of the Dupuis Agency, Jean-Michel Charlier. The meetings went well, and Goscinny settled in Paris where he did some assignments for Dupuis and later took over the management of the Paris Office of the World Press Agency in 1951. It was here that he met Albert Uderzo. Their first assignments came from Dupuis, but at the same time they also worked on developing their own characters, notably 'Oumpah Pah'. Unfortunately this comic strip didn't interest the creative people at Dupuis, and took a long time to get published.

In 1955, the extremely successful 'Lucky Luke' was launched with Goscinny providing the storyline for Morris's clever drawings. In the same year, Goscinny left the World Press Agency after a disagreement, and set up the independent syndicates Edipress and Edifrance with Charlier and Uderzo, who resigned in support of Goscinny and Jean Hebrard. They started the comic magazine 'Pilote' in 1955, which began to showcase the works of various new and talented artists, since the big publishers boycotted them and the established artists wouldn't work for them. Goscinny also created children's books featuring 'Le Petit Nicolas', with Jean-Jacques Sempe in 1956, and wrote editorials and stories for Pilote as well as scripts for films.

In 1962, he worked on 'Le Grand Vizier Iznogoud' with the young artist Jean Tabary. But it was really 'Asterix', created for the first issue of 'Pilote', that propelled him into the limelight. Around 1968, disagreements at the Agency made Goscinny withdraw from the business, and he began concentrating almost exclusively on 'Asterix'. Together with Uderzo, he founded the Idefix Studios in 1974 to make animated versions of the comics, the first production being 'The Twelve Tasks of Asterix'. It was a great success. Later, a film version of 'Lucky Luke' followed. Like Uderzo, Goscinny too was the recipient of numerous awards and was considered a national hero in France. Unfortunately, hard work and stress had taken their toll. He died of a cardiac arrest on 5 November 1977, at the age of 51.