Thursday, 26 March 2020


This is going to be hard to write. I’m not really sure how or where to begin.

Yes, I do. This is a tale of three brothers.

I guess I was about six or seven years old when I first got my hands on an Asterix album. They were called albums, not comics or comic books or graphic novels. Of course in France they were known as bande dessinée, and while I’d never heard that term, I knew they were French because the book I held was written in French. Our grandfather had managed to pick up some copies from a local library that was selling off old stock and he gifted them to us. Sadly he didn’t live long enough to realise the vast impact this small gesture would have on our lives.

I have never had such an instantaneous response to a book. It was love, pure and simple. I couldn’t understand a word and yet the world spoke to me with such clarity. It was there to entertain from the first panel to the last. I couldn’t read a thing but I never skipped a picture because each frame was a vital part of the story. I could piece it together, infer my own sense and emerge from the book feeling every bit as victorious as those plucky Gauls. I recall working out that FIN had to mean END. That miniscule achievement cemented my connection with the series. It is no exaggeration to say that my storytelling impulses were crucially shaped and defined by the Asterix books and their magical interplay between word and picture. 

Of course, the English versions arrived soon enough and our older brother, William, became equally enamoured. No, he loved them even more, and for good reason. Being dyslexic at school in the early 1980’s was not fun. Children were not treated equally. They were streamed downwards, regardless of ability. The resources were not in place to encourage anyone who was having trouble processing language. But Asterix, that pint-sized hero, came to the rescue once more. My brother devoured the series, micro-analysed the synergy between the art and the script, filling in the blanks as he went thanks to Albert Uderzo’s remarkable visual language. Gradually he began to revel in the word play and the linguistic gymnastics that Rene Goscinny, the Asterix co-creator, brought to the page. William forged those albums into a suit of armour and brought the fight to dyslexia’s front door. Looking back, I now recognise this as the first time I became aware of the true power of sequential storytelling as an educational tool.

And then there was Lorenzo. Some influences on an artist’s life are subtle. The way someone utilises and balances black on the page, for instance. Others are profoundly personal, the work feeding the roots of an artist, defining WHY they create. Then there are those that shape style and form. Even as a young boy, Lorenzo was absorbing art from all over the place, but always, ever present, nesting at the heart of his anima, was the craft of Albert Uderzo. My younger brother loved the stories, sure, but the pictures. Oh, the pictures.

I don’t remember him spending all that much time actually copying from the books, but he stared at them with an intensity and focus that, quite frankly, made me a little envious. It felt like he was heeding a call to arms. The work became a part of him, and many years later when we began to find our place in the world of comics, an intrinsic essence of that Uderzo alchemy emerged unforced from my brother’s hand.

Our longest running comic series, Long Gone Don, owes a huge debt of gratitude to both Uderzo and Goscinny. Don was always intended to be OUR Asterix. We wanted to build a new universe we could return to again and again, somewhere we could craft our wild and wonderful tales; a place inhabited by a cast of memorable heroes, fools and rogues. 

We wanted to combine our love of visual spectacle with heart and humour, all shot through with pure kinetic energy. That, after all, is the Asterix way.

We are so pleased that our books have finally reached the shores of France under the new series title, Tom Skelette. It’s fantastic to know that our work sits on the same shelves as the material that helped inspired its very creation.

But our world is a poorer place for Uderzo’s passing.

There have been many visual imitators since Asterix began way back in 1959, but none have surpassed the very best of Uderzo. He is still giving a master class in comic art, in much the same way that Goscinny remains one of the greatest teachers of the comic script. Together they taught millions and millions of children and adults to read, to dream, to draw. I take comfort from imagining all the future generations, our young boys included, that are just discovering, or will discover, these remarkable books.

From three brothers whose lives were changed forever by the work of two big-hearted, visionary Frenchmen; we hope you are sitting together, with wine in hand under a warm sun, amusing each other with your boundless imaginations.

Thank you for everything.


- Robin