When Uderzo and Goscinny parodied Asterix in science fiction style

It is a very nice meeting with Albert Uderzo that the Maillol museum in Paris * is currently offering. The co-creator of Asterix, with his friend René Goscinny on the screenplay, died on March 24, 2020. A little over a year later, this museum exhibition highlights the entirety of his work. Impossible to say that we discover all the virtuosity of Uderzo – it was already known! On the other hand, the exhibition retraces with elegance, and a form of modesty, the career of the artist, of his childhood influences – he had the Disney passion! – to his management of the phenomenal success ofAsterix. A delicate question, since we know that René Goscinny died prematurely, at only 51 years old, in 1977, and that Uderzo continued the adventure alone. With the blessing of the public, but without that of the critics.

Uderzo EC Comics style

If the Maillol museum obviously shows a number of original plates fromAsterix, it also reveals sacred nuggets. Like an auto-parody by Uderzo and Goscinny published in 1969 in the journal Pilote (a magazine created ten years earlier, and presenting to the public Asterix from its first issue; this review, almost miraculous, was that of Blueberry, lucky Luke, Achille Talon, The Rubrique-à-Brac or The genius of the mountain pastures…). The principle of the exercise? Uderzo and Goscinny took over the “suggestions” made by the commentators, who reproached the irreducible Gallic series for not being this enough, or that enough, and consequently imagined alternative versions of their heroes. So, the first part of the board below sees the Gaulish duo as space adventurers. Beyond the joke, the drawing is a luminous reference to the American artists of the EC Comics school, named after this late publishing house where Wallace Wood or Bernard Krigstein shone, and which specialized in horror. and science fiction.

One of the self-parody boards of Asterix made by Goscinny and Uderzo themselves. In the upper part, the authors imagine Asterix and Obelix hero of space. The second plays on the cliché of literary poverty in comics.

The SF of Asterix’s ultimate adventure “Heaven is falling on his head”

In the same sequence, Uderzo also used the codes of comics comics from the American magazine Mad, famous for his parodies. The illustration is delusional and full of anachronisms.

But the reference dear to the heart of Uderzo, above all, it is obviously Walt Disney, or more precisely the army of illustrators who populated his studio: the Maillol museum shows the decisive influence that the Mickey school had on the French designer, born April 25, 1977 in an Italian family fleeing fascism in his country of origin. In this regard, it is interesting to reconsider the work of Uderzo in the last Asterix drawn and scripted by him, Heaven falls on her head. With 8 million copies worldwide when it was released in 2005, the opus triggered critical hallali. It is also SF, the Gauls being visited by extraterrestrials. Certain characters from the album, with Disney features, can today be considered as the wink made by Uderzo to his American “friend”. No, not a wink, nor a tribute … a thank you.

* Uderzo, like a magic potion, at the Maillol museum (59-61 rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris), from September 27 to 30, 2021.

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