Born on the 25th of April 1927, Albert Uderzo was a French comic book artist and writer. He was the illustrator and co-creator of the Asterix comic book series. Uderzo worked on this series in collaboration with Rene Goscinny. Initially, he worked solely on illustrations while creating the Asterix series. However, the sudden death of Goscinny in 1977 led him to take over the writing part as well.
Uderzo is among the most translated authors in the French language according to UNESCO’s Index Translationum. He is also the third most often translated author of comics in the French language. This puts him just behind the author Rene Goscinny and Herge.
He was born Alberto Aleandro Uderzo. His parents Silvio and Iria were immigrants from Italy. His name comes from a village located in Italy called Oderzo. Despite having immense talents in art at an early age, his aim was to become an aircraft mechanic. He officially became a French citizen in 1934. Those were the times of the Second World War. Uderzo was a teenager during those times.
Career as an artist
After the Second World War, Uderzo began pursuing comic art as a career in Paris. He started off with the creation of some interesting comic characters such as Flamberge and Clopinard. By the mid-20th century, he had created a few other comic characters. Among them were Belloy and Arys Buck. In 1951, he met Rene Goscinny and the duo soon became good friends.
The very next year, they decided to work together at the Paris office of World Press. This was a new office of the Belgian company. While working together at this office, they came up with their first creations. They were Jehan Pistolet, Oumpah-pah, and Luc Junior. In the comic magazine Tintin, they adapted Oumpah-pah for serial publication.
In 1959, Goscinny and Uderzo were working on Pilote, which was a new magazine for older kids. With the first issue of this magazine, Asterix was introduced to the French world. It was an instant success.
The Asterix series
Asterix le Gaulois was first published as an individual volume in 1961 after serializing it in Pilote. By the year 1967, the comic was already enjoying massive popularity. During this period, Uderzo and Goscinny decided to dedicate themselves completely to the Asterix series. After the early death of Goscinny in the late 1970s, Uderzo took up additional responsibility of writing.
In the years that followed, he continued writing and illustrating the Asterix comic books. The pace was significantly slower. The books averaged one volume every three to five years. When he was working with Goscinny, the average was two volumes every year. The cover credits of these books still read ‘Goscinny and Uderzo’.
In 1985, Albert Uderzo got the Knight of the Legion of Honor. He was inducted into the Eisner Award Hall of Fame, United States, in 2005. Two years later, he was awarded the Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion.
After suffering a heart attack, Uderzo died in his sleep on the 24th of March 2020 at his home. Bernard de Choisy, his son-in-law, said that he felt very tired for several weeks before he died. He also said that COVID-19 had nothing to do with his death.