Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Albert Uderzo


It must have been in spring of 1995 when I met the legendary Uderzo in Paris. I was working at the time at the French Disney Animation Studio on the Mickey short Runaway Brain. My friend Didier Ghez was able to arrange a visit to Uderzo’s office near the Arc de Triomphe. He seemed to be pleased to meet a Disney animator from a new generation, and I was practically besides myself to come face to face with the artist, whose work had enriched my life in profound ways. 
I remember a few of his rough design drawings framed on a wall of his office. My thoughts were…this is the work of a genius, on par with masters from the Renaissance. I was stunned. We talked for a little while before his daughter and a business associate joined us. (My French was good enough as to not embarrass myself, since I had just spent six months in Paris.) We all walked to a restaurant nearby for lunch, where my French got even better after Uderzo ordered champagne for everybody. He told me how much he enjoyed the movie Aladdin, he especially liked the Genie…”completement fou”!
One of his dreams had always been that Disney would animate an Asterix film. I passed the idea on to Roy Disney, but as you all know, the studio has always come up with its own ideas for animated films. There was one significant thing that came out of this lunch, though. Uderzo had never visited Disneyland Paris (Parc Asterix had been in competition with the American rival), so an official visit was arranged.
I LOVE Uderzo’s work. I grew up with Asterix and Obelix comics long before I saw my my first Disney movie. His drawings are masterful, rich with personality. He is a stickler for detail and historical accuracy. This man drew MY childhood!


A line-up of Uderzo’s characters from the second half of the last century.



Uderzo and his writing partner Rene Goscinny, who passed away in 1977.

Another one of his great strips, Oumpah-Pah. At its core is the friendship of an American Indian and a French officer, called Brussels Sprout, during the eighteenth century.
The master during a drawing demonstration.
All artwork © 2014 LES ÉDITIONS ALBERT RENÉ

10 comments:

  1. Here some funny "Tac au tac" show from 1971, Where are Uderzo, Goscinny, Dany & Greg.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-VxT2xS-IY

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  3. Completely agree, I'm from Spain and I also have grown up reading these wonderful comics (it shows you're European).
    It's a real shame that we can not see that Disney movie based on gauls characters. Especially now that the new Axteris film will be in CGI animation and in my opinion loses some of its essence.

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  4. I love Asterix. I use to read it in the school library at lunchtimes.

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  5. Thanks for the post!
    Albert Uderzo is a "hero" for me too. The Asterix books are still some kind of treasure for me. I grew up in east germany, therefore it was quite difficult to get a book.

    In case you don´t have it, there is a book about the life and works of Uderzo, quite old but you might get it second hand:

    "UDERZO - Der weite Weg zu Asterix"
    Albert Uderzo
    272 Seiten, ca 29,5 x 23,5 cm
    Originaltitel: "UDERZO - de Flamberge á Astérix"
    Französische Originalausgabe: © 1985 Philippsen
    © 1986 Egmont Ehapa Verlag
    ISBN 3-7704-0700-8

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ClVs06wFCqs/Upns_9Bl9OI/AAAAAAAAA18/SM46a3ZcaY0/s1600/U+-+Der+weite+Weg+zu+A_1000.jpg

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    1. Hallo Tobias, Danke fuer den Buch Tip. Ich habe das Buch schon seit vielen Jahren. Gruss aus LA.

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  6. I'm quite excited about this post, I LOVE Uderzo, he also drew my childhood :)

    I can proudly say I worked on the last 2D Asterix movie (as an inbetweener & clean up artist)

    Man those lines!! we had to draw the thickness in a comic-like style, quite a hard work.

    Nice post,
    Long live Uderzo!

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  7. I like to admit I'm probably the ONLY American who ever cared about Uderzo's work at all, yet the best I ever saw was simply Asterix anyway (not sure if anything else he did got an English edition or not). I was impressed to find out there had been a US publisher in the early 70's that took a gamble at bringing over Asterix at all. William Murrow & Co. published three albums (Asterix The Gaul, Asterix & Cleopatra and Asterix the Legionary), though I suppose sales weren't so good so no more were done until other publishers who came and went picked up the tab in North America.

    And while it's true Disney didn't follow Uderzo's wishes, they had otherwise managed to release the earlier Asterix movies in the US, both on home video and on The Disney Channel, where I use to watch them in the 80's!
    http://www.amazon.com/Tasks-Asterix-VHS-Rene-Goscinny/dp/630175803X

    In some way, a nice consolation if any, at least it exposed me to this series firsthand. I doubt we'll ever see the latest 3D CG movie they're working on currently.

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  8. I would love to see some more of Albert Uderzo's work. I've read some of the Asterix graphic novels and I friggin' love them. Such wonderful cartoon drawings so full of energy that you can practically picture them being animated.

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