A couple of weeks ago, Albert Uderzo announced he was retiring from writing and drawing the Asterix series he created with Rene Goscinny in 1959. Uderzo created 24 complete albums with Goscinny and eight by himself. The bulk of their work run from the early 60’s to the mid 70’s. Uderzo commented during his announcement that he would be turning over the reigns to a new generation of creators. We’re not sure if that’s good or bad and what it means exactly. Most likely we will see at least some additional media works like television shorts or video games, but it remains to be seen if actual full-album stories will be released. Frankly, the stories have probably run their course.
Uderzo’s art, particularly during his collaboration with Goscinny was wonderful. It wasn’t just the characters that were comical and likable, Albert’s attention to other artistic detail transcended many comic stories that are now forgotten. His careful re-creation of the period were amazing from the buildings to the garb. His backgrounds showed he was actually a very good artist, not just a cartoonist. The lushness of forests, city streets, oceans, times of day … all of it was meticulous.
Having said that, it was clear that Uderzo diminished after Goscinny’s death. To be fair, Goscinny was a very talented storyteller. Uderzo clearly relied on Rene’s scripts and dialogue to illustrate the tales, so Albert had a lot to live up to. But it wasn’t just the storytelling, it was also the characters and the concepts that were poor. It’s unfortunate. We appreciate that Albert kept the popular series going and Asterix and Son wasn’t bad, but we cannot forgive him for Asterix and the Falling Sky. Horrible, just horrible.
Nonetheless, we are very sorrowful to see him go. We thank him and Goscinny for creating a lot of good memories growing up. We actually think we may have learned something about history from the escapades of Asterix and friends.
Given the news about Uderzo’s retirement, we plan to dedicate several additional blogs to the Asterix stories. Today we’ll start with a little exercise in fame. Goscinny and Uderzo had some fun with some of their characters by parodying famous contemporary people. There are probably a lot more in the story than we will most likely recognize but here are some of the more obvious ones.
By the way, there have been rumors circulating for years that J. Edgar Hoover, the iconic director of the FBI (The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation) was also a closet transvestite. Since there are many carefully studied elements of history in Asterix, we’d like to note that Uderzo accurately depicts Hoover in a dress. Behold.