René Goscinny, the ingenious story writer and one of the fathers of Asterix, Lucky Luke, Le Petit Nicolas, Umpahpah, Iznogoud and many others was born on August 14th, 1926 in Paris. During his childhood and youth he lived in Argentina, where his family emmigrated in 1928. Soon after he finished school in 1943, his father died and he had to give up his plans to study.
After a short intermezzo as bookkeeper in a rubber factory and as illustrator of advertisments he went to New York in 1945, invited by his uncle. Just having arrived there he was sent to war to Europe, but before he finally came there the war was already over. After he had finished his service in the army he flew from the misery in post-war Europe back to New York. Due to his bad English he had to survive with occasional jobs during the next two years. But in 1949 the situation turned to good account. Goscinny got to know Maurice de Bévère (Morris) and Harvey Kurtzman.
The latter arranged for Goscinny various jobs as illustrator and presented him to Davis, Elder and Wood, who should later found the well-known MAD-magazine.
This run of good luck continued not even one year, so Goscinny decided to respond to an invitation by George Troisfontaines, director of the press agency World Press based in Brussels, and to introduce himself to Dupuis in Belgium. Supported by Jean-Michel Charlier, artistic director at Dupuis, Goscinny was given a chance and it was tried to find a producer for his series Dick Dicks. Satisfied he settled down in Paris.
A year passed by with few jobs for Goscinny and first doubts came up. Only when Troisfontaines offered him a position as artistic director in an agency to be founded in Paris in 1951, he gathered fresh hope. At about that time it also happened that he met a young drawer from the Normandy: Albert Uderzo!
René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo at Asterix' anniversary in 1967
In 1952 World Press eventually opened an agency at Champs Elysées and Goscinny and Uderzo started with their first common productions. The first few years they were depending on orders from Belgium, whereas own projects (e.g. Oumpah-Pah) didn't raise interest at Dupuis. Some years later, in 1955, Morris offered Goscinny to join him for the production of Lucky Luke. Goscinny contributed to this extremely successful series with scenarios and texts until 1977. In the same year comic artists working for the Belgian publishers Dupuis, Casterman and Lombard passed a charta which formulated their claims concerning artistic freedom. Wrongly Goscinny was taken for being the initiator and was fired in consequence. Only Uderzo und Charlier declared their solidarity and gave notice.
Driven by the need for money the three joined with Jean Hébrard to found their own advertising and press agency: Edifrance and Edipress.
Together with Jean-Jaques Sempé, Goscinny created the illustrated story of Le Petit Nicolas in 1956, which was published for the first time in Le Mystique und from 1958 in Sud Ouest Dimanche. Finally in 1959 the first edition of the comic magazine Pilote was published - but again not without problems: Goscinny, Uderzo and Charlier were boycotted by the big publishers and so well-established authors didn't dare to work for Pilote being afraid of loosing their contracts. Thus they had to engage so far unknown junior drawers and scenarists to fill the pages. Soon it showed that this was a lucky move and Pilote gained ground on Tintin and Spirou more and more.
Now Goscinny hardly could save himself from work. He had not only to care for the Asterix series - newly created for the start of Pilote together with Uderzo - but also for Lucky Luke and Le Petit Nicolas. Besides that he wrote glosses, editorials and small stories for Pilote.
And from 1962 another story came along: Le Grand Vizir Iznogoud, a parody of the Arabian Nights, which he created in cooperation with the young Jean Tabary for the Record magazine (published as albums by Dargaud from 1966).
The great success of Asterix made Goscinny as well as Uderzo almost over night national heroes. The publication of the new adventure "Le combat des chefs" (engl.: Asterix and the Big Fight) became a social event. The creators of the little gallic warrior helped comics to public recognition as art, especially in France.
In 1968 disagreements came up concerning the way of leadership as practised by Goscinny, Uderzo and Charlier. Even though the three bosses and their employees managed to set up a mutual agreement the gap became to big, and Goscinny and his friends withdrew more and more from the business. Charlier even quit completely in 1974.
From now Goscinny concentrated on his major three works as well as on animated cartoon films based on his classics. But neither he nor Uderzo were satisfied with the realization of their ideas. Because of that they founded their own Studio Idefix, which produced "Les douze travaux d'Astérix" (engl: The Twelve Tasks of Asterix) in 1974. Lead by Goscinnys another production was the Lucky Luke film "La Ballade des Daltons" which had its start in the cinemas in 1978.
Too late for René Goscinny who died of a cardiac infarctus on November 5th, 1977 at the age of 51.
During his lifetime he was decorated many times for his works (among others "Prix Gaulois", "Prix Alphonse Allais" and "Prix Loisirs-Jeunes") and became a member of the Academy of Humour.