Asterix battles new Romans in publishing dispute

Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:47am EST
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By Estelle Shirbon

PARIS (Reuters) - Asterix may still be fighting Roman invaders in comic strip adventures that have sold millions of copies around the world, but the plucky Gaul's author stands accused of surrender -- to commercial interests.

The accuser is no Roman but Albert Uderzo's own daughter.

Uderzo, 81, the illustrator who created Asterix in 1959 with the late writer Rene Goscinny, sold his stake in the Asterix publishers in December. The new owners said last week he had authorized them to continue the series after his death.

His daughter, Sylvie Uderzo, said on Wednesday the decision betrayed the spirit of Asterix, a diminutive warrior who holds off hordes of hapless Romans with help from the druid Getafix's magic potion that gives superhuman strength.

"I am entering resistance against perhaps the worst enemies of Asterix, the men of finance and industry," Sylvie Uderzo wrote in a column published by Le Monde newspaper.

"It's as if the gates of the Gaulish village had been thrown open to the Roman Empire," she said.

In her view, the besieged village is Editions Albert Rene, the publishers of Asterix, of which she owns 40 percent. The empire is publishing giant Hachette Livre, which has bought the other 60 percent from her father and from Goscinny's daughter.

Albert Uderzo, who rarely speaks in public, could not be reached for comment. Spokeswomen for Editions Albert Rene and for Hachette Livre, a unit of publishing-to-aerospace group Lagardere, had no immediate comment.   Continued...

<p>Albert Uderzo, the artist of all thirty-three Asterix adventures and the story writer of the last nine books, sits next to a model of Asterix at a news conference in Brussels September 22, 2005. REUTERS/Yves Herman</p>