RIP To A True European Comics Original
Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows writes about the loss of Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo, who died just over a week ago…
I first started reading American comics around 1980 when I was seven years old. It was the DC books like DC Comics Presents, Action Comics, Superman and Green Lantern I was drawn to. But it wasn’t long after that that I was introduced to Asterix. This graphic album series by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo starring Asterix The Gaul and his friend Obelix, bent on confounding the Romans and their plans, hooked me instantly. As a kid I always loved history, and I loved Greco Roman history especially. I remember seeing Clash Of The Titans at the cinema when I was eight years old and Asterix fed into my love of Greco-Roman history.
I don’t remember the first Asterix book I read but it offered something different from the American comics I read. Translated by Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge for British publisher Hodder and Stoughton, the stories introduced me to all kinds of new concepts for my young brain. Goscinny and Uderzo worked so brilliantly together, bringing satire and parody to their stories. I found out more about Roman society and its mores and how the Romans intersected with other countries at the time like Britain and France. It was a fertile source material which stimulated my young brain to find out more about history and Roman history in particular. Asterix in Britain took a gentle swipe at British culture while The Mansions Of The Gods parodied the concepts of Kafkaesque government bureaucracy gone insane. Even Asterix and The Black Gold, a solo effort by Uderzo, taught me about the stupidity of greed and it took a pop at the avarice of the petroleum industry. Its characters were wonderful caricatures of national stereotypes, brilliantly realised and expertly executed.
Looking at them now, as an adult, obviously they used Asterix to parallel France under Nazi occupation but they did it with subtlety and intelligence.
I have not read any of the Asterix books in many years and in fact I have no idea where my set of them are. I think they got lost during one of my house moves. So I admit I have thought recently about rebuying them. The death of Albert Uderzo, coming 43 years after the passing of his partner René Goscinny, is the end of an era. They may continue to publish Asterix adventures but the creators who have replaced them can’t capture their erudition and their intelligence.
The Asterix library, or at least the books created by Goscinny and Uderzo, leave a huge legacy that is unlikely to be matched by anyone soon as Asterix crossed international borders and engaged readers around the world.
So let’s raise a glass to Albert Uderzo, now that he is reunited with his creative partner Rene Goscinny.
Visit the home of Asterix on the web