HAVANA, Cuba.- On March 24, 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, cartoonist Albert Uderzo died of a heart attack unrelated to COVID-19, leaving two endearing characters for French and universal culture orphaned: Asterix and his inseparable friend Obelix.
Born and raised on the outskirts of Paris, Uderzo grew up with Mickey Mouse and Popeye. Years later, the brave sailor who got his strength from spinach would serve as inspiration to invent the magic potion that made the Gauls invincible.
Everything indicated that Uderzo would be a mechanic, but his brother Bruno, seeing how much he liked to draw and write stories, convinced him to study at the Société Parisienne d’Édition, where he spent a year and learned the fundamentals of the trade.
In 1951 he met fellow cartoonist René Gosciny and together they created the irreverent Frenchman who, in a short time, would become a symbol of freedom for all French people. The character of Asterix was inspired by Bruno, who, in order to escape the Mandatory Labor Service in Nazi-occupied France, had gone into hiding in Brittany.
Perhaps Albert Uderzo died without having a real notion of the extent to which these two heroes, who personified the resistance to the occupation of Gaul by the Roman Empire, permeated in the hearts of children and adults; because between comics, cartoons, video games and film adaptations, Asterix and Obelix, together with the druid Panorámix and the friendly Ideafix, reached every corner of the planet.
Asterix was born on October 29, 1959, in the first issue of the weekly magazine Pile. Until 1977, when Gosciny died, the two produced 24 comics, followed by a period of silence, as Uberzo refused to create new adventures.
Some time later, he returned to work as a scriptwriter and cartoonist for eight new albums that sold 380 million copies and were translated into 111 languages, including Latin. In 1999, the film Asterix and Obelix against Caesar, Directed by Claude Zidi, it became the first film adaptation with live actors, achieving considerable public and critical success, especially due to the cast of actors that included Gérard Depardieu, Christian Clavier and Roberto Benigni.
Three years later, the second film appearedAsterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, by director Alain Chabat, which included new and well-known performers such as the Italian Mónica Bellucci and the Franco-Moroccan Jamel Debbouze. This second part of the saga exceeded the success of the previous one, earning it a César Award for best costumes.
In 2011, Albert Uderzo announced that he would not be able to continue drawing due to articular rheumatism in his right hand. Thus, he gave way to the creators Didier Conrad and the screenwriter Jean-Yves Ferri, who, under his supervision, took charge of the famous Gauls and their adventures.