Alberto Aleandro "Albert" Uderzo (April 25, 1927 - March 24, 2020) was a French comic book artist, comic book writer, animation director and entrepreneur.
The son of Italian immigrants, he is best known for co-creating perhaps the most popular French comic book character and series of all time, Asterix, with writer René Goscinny. He only drew the albums until Goscinny's death in 1977, and assumed both drawing and writing duties from 1977 to 2009.
Uderzo also co-directed two animated films based on the series along with Goscinny, the second one through a short lived animation studio they created, Studios Idéfix, which operated from 1974 to 1978. It only managed to produce two films and was shut down after Goscinny's death. He also created a theme park, the Parc Asterix, in 1989.
Uderzo retired from illustrating in the early 2010s due to growing pains in his hands, and passed the torch of helming Asterix to Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad. He passed away on March 24, 2020 from a heart attack, one month short of his 93rd birthday.
Comics he co-created or contributed to include:
- Asterix with René Goscinny.
- Oumpah-pah, also with Goscinny, the comical adventures of a Native American. It started one year before Asterix, and has not been continued since 1995.
- Belloy, with Jean-Michel Charlier, about the (often comical) adventures of a medieval Superman expy.
- Tanguy et Laverdure, with Charlier again, about the adventures of two French army pilots.
- He also got to illustrate some pages of Captain Marvel Jr. in 1950.
Animated films he co-directed:
Tropes in his works:
- Affectionate Parody: The man was fond of Walt Disney and superheroes from The Golden Age of Comic Books (Superman above all), it is no coincidence if both a Superman and a Mickey Mouse expies show up in Asterix and the Falling Sky.
- Art Imitates Art: Recreations of various famous paintings or sculptures are scattered throughout the Asterix books.
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Basing some character designs on famous people (actors, politicians and so on) is a trademark of his in the Asterix series, from Charles Laughton in The Golden Sickle all the way to Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Falling Sky.
- Depending on the Writer: When Goscinny was writing Asterix, he kept the hero himself as a fairly bland Standardized Leader Ideal Hero character who was almost never wrong about anything, and gave the Character Development to Obelix, who was a sweet, profound and adorably frightening take on a Manchild. When Uderzo took over, Asterix got a lot of Character Development and became more complicated and sympathetic, developed weaknesses and was no longer infallible, but at the same time Obelix was severely flanderized into being significantly more stupid and selfish, and usually The Millstone to boot. This is most noticeable in The Magic Carpet, where Asterix almost fails on multiple occasions because he has to constantly babysit Obelix. On the bright side, Uderzo introduced a lot more memorable female characters than Goscinny managed to do (Bravura, Melodrama, Orinjade, Latraviata...) and fleshed out some of Goscinny's Spear Carrier and Satellite Love Interest female characters (like Fulliautomatix's wife and daughter, and Obelix's perennial love interest Panacea) into more well-rounded human beings.
- Gag Nose: Many of the characters he drew in Asterix have a big nose, unless they have to stand out. Uderzo would also frequently give himself a prominent nose in his self-portraits.
- Scenery Porn: His unique style blended cartoonish character designs and famously detailed realistic landscapes and backgrounds.