Asterix the Gaul Lives

Posted by The Skibbereen Eagle | March 24, 2020 0

Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny’s illustrations and stories of Asterix the Gaul are just the best books ever written and illustrated, works of genius.

More than that they tell the real story of brave Celtic people resisting Julius Caesar and Roman Imperialism motivated by greed. The Gallic wars are estimated to have killed a quarter of the population and totally destroyed over 800 towns.

Caesar describes the battles and intrigues that took place in the nine years he spent fighting the Germanic peoples and Celtic peoples in Gaul that opposed Roman conquest first hand in his “Bellum Gallicum”

“Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres” He tells us that Gaul is divided into three parts, and that the Germans have no neighbours because their warlike nature has driven them out! “civitatibus maxima laus est quam latissime circum se vastatis finibus solitudines habere” – Gaius Julius Caesar 58 BC

Albert Uderzo, who drew the Asterix comic books, has died at the age of 92. He created the famous stories – about the adventures of Gaulish warriors fighting the Roman Empire – with his friend René Goscinny in 1959. As well as illustrating the series, Urderzo took over the writing following Goscinny’s death in 1977.

The books have sold 370 million copies worldwide, in dozens of languages, and several stories have been turned into cartoons and feature films. The series continues to this day under new ownership, with the most recent book, Asterix and the Chieftain’s Daughter, released last October.

“Albert Uderzo died in his sleep at his home in Neuilly, after a heart attack that was not linked to the coronavirus,” his son-in-law Bernard de Choisy told the AFP news agency. In an interview with The Connexion in 2008, the Frenchman joked that Asterix was born “at the best time of the day – aperitif time!” He and Goscinny were sitting on the balcony of his apartment trying to dream up a character for the new magazine aimed at children. “The brief was very precise – François Clauteaux, one of the magazine’s founders, wanted a character taken from French culture,” Uderzo recalled. “At the time it was important to try to set yourself apart from the American superheroes, or certain reporters one could mention [Tintin]. “So I looked back through history with René and reviewed all the different periods of French history. We needed something original which no-one else had worked on. When we got to the Gauls – eureka!”

A signed original illustration for an early Asterix comic book cover sold for more than 1.4m Euros (£1.25m) at a Paris auction in 2017. The son of Italian immigrants, Albert Uderzo is best known as the co-founder and illustrator of the Astérix series in collaboration with René Goscinny. He also drew other comics such as Oumpah-pah, again with Goscinny. Uderzo retired in September 2011.

How much history, geography, art and humour did we all learn from reading these fantastic books? And how to read Roman numerals, and an introduction to Latin and French. How we loved  and related to the characters translated into English with tongues firmly in cheeks: Getafix, Obelix, Asterix, Dogmatix, Vitalstatistix, Cacofonix, Impedimenta, Geriatrix, Fulliautomatix, Operatix, Photogenix,  Pacifix, Bucolix, Unhygeniex, etc; etc;! These were quietly subversive books that treated their young readers with respect – May Alberto eat together with René as much wild pork in heaven as he wants. RIP.

The author and talented illustrator whose pencil work was marvellous was typically modest about his achievements:

‘We first noticed its success when I was walking in the street with my wife Ada and we heard a man call his dog “Asterix”!’

Alberto Aleandro Uderzo  – 25 April 1927 – 24 March 2020), known as Albert Uderzo, French comic book artist and scriptwriter.


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