1959: Astérix hits the presses
Writer René Goscinny and illustrator Albert Uderzo became friends when working together in Paris. They collaborated to create a series called Oumpah-pah which first appeared in 1958 in the Belgian comic journal, Tintin. A year later Astérix made its debut in a new magazine, Pilote. The two characters, Astérix and Obelix, were created following a disagreement between Goscinny and Uderzo; though Uderzo's early sketches depicted Astérix as a sizable Gaulish warrior, Goscinny had envisaged him to be small and shrewd. So his partner, Obelix, was drawn up.
1961: The Gaul goes forth
Following the success of the Pilote version, Goscinny and Uderzo decided to publish a book. In 1961, Astérix the Gaul – the first of what was to become an enduring series – was published. The books have been phenomenally popular and translated into 100 languages.
1977: Going solo
In 1977, Goscinny died leaving Uderzo to continue the series on his own. He created his own publishing company, Les Editions Albert-René, which published every subsequent album. These days, critics tend to concur that Goscinny's earlier albums were superior.
1990: Rights and wrongs
Following the collapse of Pilote's financial backing, publisher Georges Dargaud had taken control of the rights to the joint efforts of Uderzo and Goscinny. In 1990, however, the illustrators' families decided to sue the publisher for ownership. The subsequent trial took eight years to resolve but eventually found in the families' favour.
2008: Family feud
Though Uderzo had announced he didn't want anyone to continue the series after his retirement, he changed his mind in December 2008 when he sold his stake in the comics. His family remain opposed to the idea; Uderzo's daughter, Sylvie, has attacked her father's decision in print. Uderzo has also attracted criticism for allowing Astérix and Obelix to appear in a McDonald's adverts.
2011: Passing the baton
On Tuesday, Uderzo, 84, announced he was hanging up his pen for good. He has worked with three illustrators in order to ensure continuity. His successor remains unknown, but will be responsible for the publication of a new book, slated for late 2012.
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