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Albert Uderzo, the artist behind French cartoon icon Asterix, dies aged 92

"Asterix really showed me that history could be fun and daft,” says the Irish archaeologist Neil Jackman as tributes are paid to the artist

Albert Uderzo (left), the man who co-created the celebrated cartoon character, Asterix (right), has died, aged 92 Uderzo: Georges Seguin; Asterix: Ferran Cornellà

Albert Uderzo, the man who co-created the celebrated cartoon character, Asterix, has died, aged 92. Uderzo produced the famous comic strip, which also features Asterix’s sidekick Obelix, in collaboration with the writer René Goscinny. "Albert Uderzo died in his sleep at his home in Neuilly, after a heart attack that was not linked to the coronavirus. He had been extremely tired for the past several weeks," his son-in-law Bernard de Choisy told Agence France-Presse.

The Dutch art historian Maaike Dirkx tweeted: “Rest in peace and thank you for the fun,” while the Irish archaeologist Neil Jackman said on social media that “if it wasn’t for Asterix, I wouldn’t have ended up in archaeology, it really me showed that history could be fun and daft.”

Uderzo was born in 1927 in Fismes, a village in northeast France. He met Goscinny in the early 1950s when they began creating cartoons together. The pair published their first Asterix the Gaul story on 29 October 1959 in the magazine Pilote.

The series chronicles the mischief-making adventures of Asterix, a warrior from Roman-occupied ancient Gaul, who fights back against the Roman empire, aided by a magical potion giving him superhuman powers. Uderzo both drew the illustrations and provided the text after Goscinny died in 1977.

According to the website France 24, “the pun-filled series is brimming with fist-fights, drunken arguments, heroic rescues and romantic interludes, and the stories often include not-so-subtle references to politicians or popular figures of the day.”

In 2015, Uderzo drew a special Asterix cartoon honouring the illustrators killed in the terrorist attack at the headquarters of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. In 2017, an early Asterix book cover signed by Uderzo and Goscinny (Asterix and the Banquet; Le Tour de Gaule) sold for €1.4m at Drouot in Paris.