Asterix et Obelix by Albert Uderzo
Astérix et Obélix

Albert Uderzo was born as the son of Italian immigrants in France. He made his first acquaintance with comics through the 'Mickey Mouse' strip in Le Pétit Parisien. In 1940, when he was only thirteen years old, Uderzo was employed by the Société Parisienne d'Édition, where he learned the basics of the trade: designing text and letters, and editing photographs. His first illustration, a parody on Aesop's fables, was published in magazine Junior, around the same time that he met the great comic artist Calvo.

from Bonnes Soirées, by Albert Uderzo (1953)
from Bonnes Soirées (1953)

Uderzo spent most of the war working as a farmer in Brittany, and helping his father with his furniture business. In 1945 and 1946, he worked on an animated film titled 'Clic-Clac', together with Renan de Vela. De Vela aslo assigned Uderzo to illustrate the book 'Flamberge, gentilhomme gascon', by Em-Ré-Vil. Uderzo made his first story, starring the character 'Clopinard', for Éditions du Chêne in Paris in the following year.

Watoki by Albert Uderzo

Signing his work Al Uderzo (which sounded more American), he created several comics for magazine O.K. shortly afterwards, including 'Arys Buck', 'Le Prince Rollin' and 'Belloy l'Invulnérable'. In 1949, Uderzo became reporter and illustrator for France Dimanche through Yves Chéron's International Press agency, and he was one of the illustrators of the vertical comic strip section 'Le Crime ne Paie pas' by Paul Gordeaux for France-Soir.

Captain Marvel Jr. (dutch version) by Albert Uderzo in Bravo 1950
Captain Marvel Jr. (dutch version, Bravo 1950)

By 1950, while Uderzo was drawing 'Captain Marvel Jr.' for magazine Bravo!, he met Georges Troisfontaines, the agent of the Brussels-based World's Press syndicate, who introduced him artists like Victor Hubinon, Eddy Paape and MiTacq, as well as writer Jean-Michel Charlier, with whom he relaunched 'Belloy' in magazine La Wallonie. Around the same time, he got in touch with René Goscinny, with whom he would start a fruitful collaboration.

Jehan Pistolet, by Albert Uderzo
Jehan Pistolet

In November 1951, the first joint work of Uderzo and Goscinny, a feature on savoir-vivre, was pulished in women's weekly Bonnes Soirées. Their next creations were 'Jehan Pistolet' and 'Luc Junior' for La Libre Junior. They also came up with a character for the aimed at American market, the Indian 'Oumpah-Pah'. The idea did not work out, and ended up in the drawer. For now.

Tom et Nelly, by Albert Uderzo (Risque-Tout #8, 1956)
Tom et Nelly (Risque-Tout #8, 1956)

By 1955, Uderzo, Charlier, Goscinny and Jean Hébrard founded their own syndicate, resulting in two agencies: Édifrance and Édipresse. At the same time, Uderzo and Goscinny created 'Bill Blanchart', a realistic series for La Libre Junior, and they also succeeded Christian Godard on 'Benjamin et Benjamine' . Uderzo drew 'Clairette', a feature written by Charlier, in 1957 before making his debut in magazine Tintin in the following year. It was here that 'Oumpah-Pah' was finally published, as well as the new series 'Poussin et Poussif', 'La Famillle Moutonet' and 'La Famille Cokalane'.

Oumpah-Pah, by Albert Uderzo

In 1959 the Edifrance team launched a new magazine, called Pilote. Uderzo was there from the start with no less than two series. The first was the realistic aviation series 'Tanguy et Laverdure', written by Charlier, the second 'Astérix', written by Goscinny. This last series, about a small Gaule from a well-known little Gaulish village which keeps resisting the Roman occupation, soon developed into the most popular comic in France.

Tanguy et Laverdure, by Albert Uderzo 1967
Tanguy et Laverdure

Over the years, Uderzo devoted himself more and more to 'Astérix', of which the first album of a long series was published by Dargaud in 1967. In 1974, Goscinny, Uderzo and Georges Dargaud founded the Idéfix Studios for the production of animated films starring their famous heroes. René Goscinny died in 1977 and Uderzo was to continue 'Astérix by himself.

Asterix by Albert Uderzo
First appearance of Asterix

He continues to oversee the production of new stories through his own production label Les Éditions Albert-René to the present day. It was announced in 2012 that Udezo would retire from the drawing board, and that Didier Conrad and Jean-Yves Ferri became his successors as artist and writer, respectively. In spite of the great artwork, the brilliant storytelling of Goscinny is sorely missed in the latest albums.

In 1996 both Asterix and Obelix had asteroids named after them. Albert Uderzo was named Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion in 2007. He was also invested with the French Légion d'Honneur in 2013.

Asterix & Obelix, by Albert Uderzo
Astérix et Obélix
(official site, en français)

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