Asterix creator depressed by family dispute

Tue Feb 3, 2009 8:41am EST
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By James Mackenzie

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Julius Caesar tried in vain to break the spirit of Asterix and his fellow Gaulish villagers, but a bitter family dispute has left the indomitable warrior's creator increasingly depressed.

"These moments have been painful. I've spent sleepless nights. It was horrible," Albert Uderzo told Le Figaro of a dispute in which his own daughter accuses him of selling out the legacy of the hero he made with partner Rene Goscinny in 1959.

The dispute broke into the open last month when Uderzo's daughter Sylvie published an open letter in the Le Monde daily attacking her 81 year-old father's decision to sell his stake in the Asterix publishing company to the giant Hachette group.

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

In reply, Albert Uderzo said his daughter had been "blinded" by her husband, Bernard Boyer de Choisy, who was formerly in charge of public relations for Albert Rene, the publishers of the hugely successful Asterix series.

"I think Sylvie is no longer in charge of her own decisions. We don't speak anymore and I'm extremely sad about it," he said.

Sylvie Uderzo, who holds 40 percent in Albert Rene, said her open letter was motivated by concern for the series' quality.

But behind the dispute are also the lucrative rights to one of the most successful series of "Bandes dessinees" ever with 33 comic strip albums selling 325 million copies around the world in 107 languages and dialects.   Continued...

<p>A man reads a copy of "Asterix and Latraviata," the 31st in the Asterix series, in a file photo. REUTERS/File</p>