By Toutatis! France unveils statue to Asterix creator

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By Toutatis! France unveils statue to Asterix creator
(From L) Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Anne Goscinny, French cartoonist and illustrator Jean-Jacques Sempe, French cartoonist Julien Berjeaut aka Jul and Paris mayor in charge of culture Christophe Girard attend a ceremony for the unveiling of a commemorative statue dedicated to late French cartoonist Rene Goscinny on January 23, 2020 in Paris. STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP.

PARIS (AFP).- A statue of French comic book legend Rene Goscinny, the creator of Asterix and the cowboy Lucky Luke, was unveiled in Paris Thursday.

The life-sized bronze of the writer close to his former home features him holding some of his most famous creations, including Asterix, the plucky Gaul who refused to bend the knee to Julius Caesar and his legions.

Goscinny, who died of a brain haemorrhage at 51 in 1977, stands on a bookcase plinth that contains some of his best-loved works.

The statue is the first ever in the French capital to a comics creator.

Graphic novels both for adults and children have a massive readership in France and neighbouring Belgium, with Goscinny and his illustrator Alberto Uderzo -- now 92 -- regarded as gods of the genre.

Their catchphrases like Asterix's "By Toutatis!" -- an expression of surprise which references a real Gallic deity -- have gone down in comic book history.

The "Asterix" and "Lucky Luke" books are still huge bestseller across Europe, with new writers and illustrators taking up the stories.

The latest "Asterix" adventure, "The Daughter of Vercingetorix", has sold more than 1.5 million copies in France alone in two months.

Goscinny, who grew up in poverty before falling into the magic potion of comics after serving in the French army at the end of World War II, already has a street named after him in Paris close to France's National Library.

The French Ministry of Culture has declared 2020 the "Year of the Graphic Novel".

© Agence France-Presse

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