Birth of René Goscinny in Paris.
After the birth of little René, the Goscinny family leaves for Argentina for professional reasons. René quietly spends his childhood there and goes to the French Lycée in Buenos Aires, where he already begins to stand out (according to him, he has a reputation for clowning about).
That doesn’t stop him later from getting a BA and studying fine art.
From their remote position in South America the family experience the Second World War, which sees many of their relations die. René Goscinny is to keep the scars from this painful period all his life.
René is still a teenager when his father dies and he has to find a job quickly.
After a few short-term experiences, he becomes an assistant illustrator in an advertising agency and then leaves for New York at the invitation of an uncle who has settled there.
This is the beginning of a tough time that is to last 5 years.
With no money and little work, he decides to return to Europe to do his military service in the French Army. He then goes back to the States where he meets the team from the humour publication MAD Magazine (Willy Elder, Harvey Kurtzman …), who give him enough work to survive.
In New York he meets the cartoonists Jijé and Morris.
The latter introduces him to Georges Troisfontaines, boss of World Press, and Yvan Chéron, head of International Press. They reach a deal and a few weeks later René arrives in Paris to work with them …
One fine morning in 1951, Albert Uderzo, who is working for World Press/International Press, is told that someone new, called ‘Gossini’ is coming to join them. When Albert hears this name, his Italian roots get all excited. But he learns that “No, his name is spelt G.o.s.c.i.n.n.y. He’s French and he’s moving here from the United States.”
The two hit it off immediately, and are to work on numerous joint projects. The partnership results in many heroes, including Oompah-Pah, whom many see as a precursor to Asterix.
Uderzo and Goscinny then play an active part alongside Jean-Michel Charlier and Jean Hébrard to create the companies called Edipresse (news agency) and Edifrance (advertising agency), which at last give them the opportunity to express themselves independently. There follow several difficult years when the two try out various jobs, but this period is nonetheless extremely fertile in terms of projects and ideas.
At the time, to earn a living, Albert Uderzo goes so far as to produce nine plates in a week, a colossal amount of work. Sometimes, for lack of time, he skips the sketches and does his drawings directly in ink.
Then an important project monopolises our two friends’ time: to create a magazine called Pilote, in conjunction with François Clauteaux, who will be the editor, Albert and René look for a typically French hero. The decision is made and they choose the Romance of Renart.
However, they are quickly told that the project is already under way, initiated by Jean Trubert. So their idea won’t work and they have to find another one. After exploring the historical ages of France, Albert and René agree on Gaul and the Gauls.
And so, on 29 October 1959, the FIRST issue of Pilote presents its captivated readers with the first plate of the Adventures of Asterix the Gaul, on page 20. The magazine is an immediate success: more than 300,000 copies sold!
Pilote (with its slogan, ‘wow, what a magazine!’) has its hour of glory. Many a young reader grows up with it.
Then it experiences a few ups and downs and our two friends hand over in 1960, only to come back in 1963. At the time René Goscinny works on numerous comic strips – Asterix, of course, as well as Iznogoud (Tabary), Little Nicholas (Sempé), Lucky Luke (Morris), Valentin (Tabary), The Dingodossiers (Gotlib), and more.
The two authors continue some of the series for a while, either working together or on their own. However, from the “Asterix and the Chieftain’s Shield” album onwards, Albert Uderzo decides to devote himself exclusively to the little Gaulish hero and abandons his other characters.
Asterix becomes a major French comic strip hero, with his popularity increasing album by album.
He brings great happiness to Albert and René, who by now have also founded a cartoon film studio, called Studio Idéfix. However, misfortune is just around the corner.
The awful news comes on 5 November 1977: René Goscinny dies during an exercise stress test for a medical check-up. He was 51. The shock is terrible.
“Asterix in Belgium” is up to plate 37.
His tremendous talent allowed his heroes to survive him, and René Goscinny continues today to make millions of readers around the world laugh, both big and small.