Wednesday, May 4 2011

Happy Birthday Albert!


25 April was a day for great merriment in the Village as all the Indomitable Gauls came together to celebrate the 84th birthday of Albert Uderzo. And yet, not satisfied with spoiling us over decades past with albums that fill us with admiration, it is he who gave us a birthday present!

Us, or more specifically the European Comic Book Fair in Nîmes, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary on 21st and 22nd May this year.


Albert Uderzo, sponsor of the first show ten years ago, actually unveiled this year's poster, featuring Asterix, and especially Obelix as a magic potion-fuelled candle blower-outer!

As for Albert, well he was all the happier to participate in the event since Oumpah-Pah the Redskin, another of the heroes he created with René Goscinny, will be starring in a special exhibit just opposite the Nîmes Arena. An event that we will be sure to tell you more about in the near future.

Tuesday, January 27 2009

A great producer leaves us


Produce a live-action film based on the adventures of Asterix the Gaul: talk about a challenge! Whereas Claude Lelouch and Louis de Funès both dreamed of it, Claude Berri actually did it. And in style! With Gérard Depardieu as Obelix and Christian Clavier as Asterix, along with the most talented decorators and special effects specialists….

Magic potion was clearly part of the project as well-deserved success followed: Asterix and Obelix take on Caesar and Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra together accounted for more than 46 million viewers worldwide! Julius Caesar still hasn't gotten over it....

The Village therefore went into mourning on Monday, 12 January when it learned of the death of the man known as "the last Nawab" of the French film world. On the RTL radio station, Albert Uderzo spoke for everyone: "It's sad. We understood one another right away, and I especially understood that this man was first and foremost a man of his word. We continued working together on a second film, always in perfect harmony, smoothly, and without a hitch. He was a man who really knew his business."

Albert Uderzo also had a special thought for Thomas Langmann, Claude Berri's son and producer of the film Asterix at the Olympic Games. A particularly talented family to whom the Indomitable Gauls would like to extend their warmest respects.

Monday, November 5 2007

Tribute to René Goscinny


"There are certain dates during the course of a person's life which, more than any other, mark the passage between different eras, whether they are full of laughter and happiness or, quite the opposite, bear great sorrow.
Such was the case on 5 November 1977 as we were preparing, like every year, to celebrate the day of Saint Sylvie, since it is our daughter's name.
It was a terrible surprise for her as well as for the rest of us to learn on that Saturday morning that her "Uncle" René had suddenly died."

Albert Uderzo

It's already thirty years since René Goscinny left us. His sudden death provoked tremendous emotion among millions of his readers, who abruptly felt like orphans of a true comedy genius.

Albert Uderzo, his inseparable companion and chief fan, also lost a very dear friend that day: "I spent twenty-six years working extremely closely with him, and we understood each other perfectly, in spite of our great success. Apart from the sort of osmosis which united us throughout an unblemished professional career, the two of us forged an extraordinary, unshakeable friendship which included our wives and two daughters. René treated me as if he were my vigilant and most protective brother despite being only eight months older. I still consider him to be the greatest and most famous writer of his era in the world of comics, the 9th art. It goes without saying that I miss him even today. I am heartened to know that the large number of devotees who read his work throughout the world ensure him a place, both today and in the future, in the collective memories of his fans, and that is the most important thing."

Thirty years on, René Goscinny is today one of the most read French authors in the world, and his work is considered to be a classic in the comic world. As for the nigh-on 2000 characters born of his abundant imagination, they form a hilarious "Human Comedy" which rivals that of the great Balzac!

As a great admirer of his friend's talent for story writing, Albert Uderzo has never broken off the creative dialogue he shared with René, his closest collaborator. At every new joke and every new turn fashioned by his trusty crayons in the daily lives of the heroes that they created together, Albert wonders what René would have thought. The millions of readers of all ages and nationalities, who continue to show their approval of Asterix and Obelix, cannot be wrong. As such, Asterix's two creators have respected their promise to keep Asterix and Obelix together for our unalterated enjoyment. This promise was set out in the passage below, written by René Goscinny and read by Albert Uderzo at the public showing of the animated feature film The Twelve Tasks of Asterix. Its lines still resonate today as a kindly message left by René Goscinny and addressed to his readers:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The question we get asked most often is: "Which one are you then?" And we've become so similar that we've started to reply: "I'm the other one."
If I share this with you today, using the voice of the "other one", it is since we are inseparable in life as in work, we now share the fate of certain lift manufacturers or food producers whose two surnames have become one. And that's why it can appear strange to see us alone, without the "other one".
It would have given me great pleasure to come and see you tonight to present the 12 Tasks of Asterix. Unfortunately, the poor health of someone close to me has prevented me from doing so; please accept my apologies once again and allow the "other one" to greet you on my behalf.
But whichever one of us appears isn't all that important, because, for you, Asterix and Obelix are still together.
It only remains for us to hope, both me and the "other one", that we will continue to entertain you.

René Goscinny

Thirty years later, Albert Uderzo ensures that both surnames continue to appear side by side on all Asterix albums. Why not conduct a little test: ask an Asterix reader today which one is the artist and which one is the storywriter - and often you'll discover… it's the "other one"!

René Goscinny was right: the duo that he formed with Albert will never be split up, and the memory of René Goscinny will forever remain in the hearts of our readers.

Tuesday, April 10 2007

Asterix's emotion


Occasionally there are times when the real and virtual worlds collide, passages of time where the unbelievable occurs, during which we want to change reality so badly, but the inevitable finally brings us to our senses.
Such was the case recently, when I came across a message from a quite overcome Obiwankenobix, which you can read below... In life, as in death, we will always be with him.

François Clauteaux - Profession: creator of Pilote!


As Asterix fans you already know the extraordinary tale behind the creation of Gaul's most famous hero. On the balcony of an apartment in the Parisian suburbs during the heatwave of 1959, two inseparable friends, René and Albert, racked their brains as they struggled with their doodlings… until the moment when they were suddenly inspired! A new series, full of humour, set in the time of the ancient Gauls was born, and the Asterix myth was set in motion.

  Photo: Donatien Clauteaux
But on this occasion we will go back a little further in time, to the very beginnings of what was to become Pilote magazine. Since childhood, one man, François Clauteaux, had harboured a very innovative project: a unique, revolutionary magazine for the younger generation. Quite simply, he wanted to create the magazine that he had always wanted to read first as a child and later as a teenager: this magazine would address all sorts of topics, just like "grown-up" publications did, and would pique the curiosity and creativity of younger people. It would offer them material that would open their minds to new horizons and would allow young readers to become actors in their own lives, lives which they would be able to make extraordinary.

Let us go back then to the Liberation of France after World War II. The country was coming back to life, and François, having already gained solid experience as a journalist, despite his tender age, started to lay the groundwork for his project: "I could picture the magazine of my dreams, inspired by the substantial experience I had already gained. The content would include surveys, reports, and interviews, whilst the format would be a bit like Paris-Match. I imagined an educative double-page made up of cartoons or photographs: cutaway views of machines, portrayals of historic events, or unique landscapes. All the usual school subjects would be presented in a fun way, which, if possible, would encourage interaction from readers. And finally, the magazine would focus heavily on activities for them."

This yet-to-exist magazine already had a title: Pilote, and the way in which the young François Clauteaux (25 years old!) described the content of this magazine is impressive. Almost 15 years before the creation of one of the most famous magazines amongst the French Press in the 20th century, the Pilotorama and most of the ideas that gave Pilote his unique spirit were already there.

Although it was initially unrealised, the project would be reborn at the end of the 1950s, when François Clauteaux's career as an Advertising Head for the French brands Monsavon and Dop was drawing to a close. On this occasion, luck was on François's side: through his friend Jean Hébrard, he got to know three young talented men who, unbeknown to all at the time, would become three legendary figures in the comic strip world: Jean-Michel Charlier, René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo.

The magazine launch was skilfully orchestrated by François Clauteaux no less, who had become a key figure in what was just starting to be called "marketing". It quickly led to fame and recognition for the wonderful creations of his crack trio, who were delighted to have been given total freedom to display their talent exactly as they saw fit. Asterix, in particular, would quickly prove to be such a unique phenomenon in comic strip history that it was not long before Pilote became known as "the Asterix and Obelix magazine". At that point, François Clauteaux's attention had already been drawn to new projects, and Pilote would enjoy its greatest years with our three comrades at the helm, whose never-ending creativity and inimitable humour would continue to make so many generations of children and teenagers happy, just as they still do today.

An intimate moment between Albert Uderzo, Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres,
and his friend François Clauteaux, to whom he had just bestowed his decoration of
Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

For all those who were lucky enough to know any of the men responsible for this extraordinary magazine, the ingredients of the magic potion are easy to spot: none of the four - Jean-Michel Charlier, François Clauteaux, René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo - ever abandoned their childhood dreams and put heart and soul into their hard work and talent, creating and sharing them for the greater happiness of all those who are still a child at heart. Their shared work is truly timeless and instructs us to be unfailingly faithful to the values and aspirations of our childhood.

All of which leads me to share this story with you today and to pass on the sad news about a man who, throughout his life, proved incapable of sadness, and made all those who rubbed shoulders with him happy: François Clauteaux passed away on Sunday 25 March 2007 to rejoin Toutatis in the sky, which felt to us, on that sad day, as if it had fallen on our heads.

The unceasing faithfulness and loyalty of Albert Uderzo towards François Clauteaux never failed to draw admiration from the latter. It is thanks to these very admirable qualities of the Asterix co-creator that I am able to tell you this small event in history today. Because, alongside the great story of François Clauteaux and Pilote is a story that, in all modesty, is just as beautiful: if Jean-Michel Charlier, François Clauteaux, René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo became ideal father figures for generations of their readers, François Clauteaux was, for me in particular, Denis Clauteaux, an extraordinary father.

François Clauteaux, the child: already a real "pilot"!

May Toutatis take good care of him, and grant him a special place in the Gaulish skies!