'Pinocchio in de Ruimte' (Kuifje, 1965)

Willy Lateste was a Belgian animator and occasional comics artist. He created a couple of historical comics drawn in a realistic style for the comics magazine Ons Volkske. As an employee of Belvision he was animator and script supervisor for two 'Astérix' animated features, 'Asterix the Gaul' (1967) and 'Asterix and Cleopatra' (1968), as well as their box office flop 'Pinocchio en Espace' (Pinocchio In Space', 1965). He adapted the latter film into a comic strip too. 

Life and career
Willy Lateste was born in 1930 in Berchem. In the late 1950s his comics career took off when he created several historical comics for the Flemish magazine Ons Volkske. Among them were 'Vader des Vaderlands' (1957-1958) about William the Silent, aka the Prince of Orange, and 'Michiel de Ruyter' (1958), about the Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter. In the 1960s Lateste went into animation, working for Studio Belvision. Belvision was founded by Raymond Leblanc, publisher of the comics magazine Tintin and owner of publishing house Le Lombard. Up until 1965 the studio had mostly made animated shorts for television, but that same year they released their first full-blown animated feature, 'Pinocchio dans l'Espace'/'Pinocchio in de Ruimte' ('Pinocchio in Space', 1965), which was directed by Ray Goossens. Loosely based on Carlo Collodi's novel, 'Pinocchio' the little puppet now finds himself in a science fiction context, where he has to defend Earth from a whale travelling through space. To promote the picture Lateste drew a comic strip adaptation, which ran in Tintin magazine that same year. Nevertheless the film was a huge critical and commercial disaster. This also explains why the 'Pinocchio in Space' comic strip has never been made available in comic book format. 

Michiel de Ruyter, by Willy Lateste, 1958
'Michiel de Ruyter' (1958)

Belvision quickly embarked on another animated feature, 'Astérix le Gaulois' ('Astérix the Gaul', 1967), based on René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo's popular comics series 'Astérix'. This was consequently the first time the invincible Gaul was adapted to the big screen. The picture did well at the box office, though Goscinny and Uderzo took legal action since they weren't involved in the project. A settlement was reached and by the time the next 'Astérix' film, 'Astérix et Cléopâtre' ('Astérix and Cleopatra', 1968), came out they were directly involved. Vastly superior to its predecessor thanks to Goscinny's creative input, it went on to become a classic. Lateste animated and wrote the screenplay for both pictures, but never saw the release of 'Astérix and Cleopatra', as he passed away in 1967. 

Family connections
Lateste's brother, Eddie Lateste (1929) joined Belvision in 1960. He was a script writer and animation supervisor for 'Astérix and Cleopatra' and would later direct two other comics-based animated features for Belvision, namely 'Le Temple du Soleil' ('Prisoners of the Sun', 1969), based on Hergé's eponymous 'Tintin' album, 'Tintin et le Lac aux Requins' ('Tintin and the Lake of Sharks', 1972), which he also co-produced, and 'La Flûte à Six Schtroumpfs' ('The Flute with the Six Smurfs', 1976), based on the eponymous 'Smurfs' album by Peyo. In 1971 he co-animated Goscinny and Morris' 'Daisy Town' (1971), based on the series 'Lucky Luke'.  

Pinocchio in Outer Space, by Willy Lateste
'Pinocchio in de ruimte' (Kuifje #29. 1965)

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