René Goscinny (1926 – 1977) was born in Paris, but his family, of Polish origin, had to move to Argentina when he was two years old. He studied at the French Lycée in Buenos Aires and graduated in Fine Arts in 1942. After his father passed away, he had to work as an illustrator at an advertising agency. In 1945 he moved to the United States, with his uncle Boris. He settled in New York, where he met the founders of MAD magazine, and the cartoonists Jijé and Morris.

In 1949 he moved back to Paris to head World Press’s office and in 1951 he met the illustrator Albert Uderzo. Together they created Sylvie (1951), for the magazine Bonnes Soirées, Jehan Pistolet (for La Libre Belgique) and Luc Junior (1952, for La Libre Junior).  They also created the news and advertising agencies Edipresse and Edifrance in 1955. With the editor François  Clauteaux, they founded the magazine Pilote. The first issue, published in October 1959, features Astérix le Gaulois for the first time. Goscinny became chief editor of Pilote in 1963.

During the fifties and sixties he embarked in numerous series that would reflect his brilliant storytelling techniques and fertile imagination. He developed the series Lucky Luke (with Morris, who created the main character); Le Petit Nicolas (with Jean-Jacques Sempé for the magazine Le Moustique);  Jacquot le Mousse and Tromblon et Bottaclou with Godard; Les Divagations de Monsieur Sait-Tout (with Martial); La Potachologie Illustrée (with Cabu); Les Dingodossiers (with Marcel Gotlib, from 1965 to 1967); La Forêt de Chênebeau (with Mic Delonx); and Calife Haroun El Poussah (with Tabary) in 1962, first in Record, and later in Pilote under the name Iznogoud. He also helped numerous young creators, including Greg (Achille Talon) or Fred (Philémon).

Goscinny was awarded the Alphonse-Allaise prize in 1966 and in 1967 he was named Chevalier of Arts and Letters. After a crisis period in Pilote, he wrote for film, television and radio, and adapted several Astérix and Lucky Luke stories for the screen: Astérix le Gaulois (1967), Astérix et Cléopâtre (1968) and Daisy Town (1971). In 1974 he launched with Uderzo the film studio Idéfix, producing Les Douze Travaux d’Astérix (1976) and La Ballade des Dalton (1978).

Réne Goscinny died of cardiac arrest at the untimely age of 51. He was posthumously awarded a César by the French film industry, to honor his entire body of work. Global success continued for Astérix, which has been translated into more than 100 languages and has sold more than 600 million copies worldwide. Goscinny’s influence in French and European comics also continues to date,  due to the wit and creativity of his plots, and his ability to create a wide variety of main and supporting characters, each one perfectly individualized and full of life.

–Javier Gutiérrez-Rexach

Further reading

  • Andrieu, Olivier. Goscinny. Tours:  Éditions du Chêne, 2005. Print.
  • Guillaume, Marie-Anne. Goscinny: Biographie. Arles: Actes Sud, 1997. Print.
  • Vidal, Guy. René Goscinny: profession, humoriste. Paris: Dargaud, 1997. Print.