Asterix and Obelix lost their father Albert Uderzo today. The nonagenarian Frenchman - who brought a smile to generations of kids through their growing years and adulthood for over six decades with the wickedly delightful adventures of Asterix, Obelix, Dogmatix, Getafix the village druid, Vitalstatistix (his wife Impedimenta and son Justforkix) and Cacofonix among others breathed his last in his sleep in his home in Neuilly west of Paris, his family has confirmed underlining that this was in no way linked to the current Corona virus pandemic sweeping through the large swathes of the world.
Incidentally, the 37th book in the Asterix series (the 3rd written by Jean-Yves Ferri and illustrated by Didier Conrad) has drawn renewed attention since its release three years ago in light of the current pandemic because the charioteer everyone feels will win the race is the virus' namesake: Coronavirus.
Actor writer and producer Vivek Vaswani said it was a blow to hear of Uderzo's passing on. “Uderzo and writer René Goscinny (who died in 1977) made the French comic series about this small village of Gauls who stand up to Roman occupiers so believable and enjoyable,” he said. According to him, he found shades of Asterix comics in Lagaan. “Just like the Gauls resist Romans here too a village is fighting off the mighty British Raj,” he said and added, “From the village elder, the bard, to the crazy ones with signature traits you find them all in the movie just like the comics. Aamir's character is also fashioned as Asterix right down to the feather in his headgear during the song Radha Kaise Na Jale.”
Revati Laul the well-known writer of The Anatomy Of Hate remembers how she became close to her cousin just because he owned the entire set of comics. “They were dog-eared and worn out but I kept re-reading them because the stories continued to delight,” she remembers and laughs recalling how her cousins used the characters' names to call each other. “My favourite character has always been Impedimenta. The sight of all that boar meat always made my mouth water. I think I picked up my love for all things pork from early childhood from there since boar meat couldn't be had.”
Others like well-known actor-educator Kaizaad Kotwal also remembered using his precious pocket money to get the latest Asterix comics from the nearest Shemaroo Library (They had still not become a films/video library) across their Warden Road home. “They were hard to come by and this library stocked them along with all the foreign magazines. The best days were when latest Asterix and Tintin comics would both be out on the same day,” he said and asked, “Did you know Uderzo made all his drawings with an actual brush?” Uderzo's success brought a fortune in its wake (a huge chunk of which went into funding his hobby to collect Ferrari cars) thanks to the 370 million albums sold worldwide (translated into over a 100 languages), about 15 films (both animated and cinema), a leisure park, and hundreds of merchandising products. Yet what he leaves behind is far richer - the Gaulian legacy of fun, frolic and adventure.