René Goscinny

René Goscinny (French: [ʁəne ɡosini], Polish: [ɡɔɕˈtɕinnɨ] (listen); 14 August 1926 – 5 November 1977) was a French comic editor and writer of Polish descent, who created the Astérix comic book series with illustrator Albert Uderzo. He also worked on the comic series Lucky Luke with Morris (considered the series' golden age) and Iznogoud with Jean Tabary. He also wrote a series of children's books known as "Le Petit Nicolas" series (Little Nicolas).

René Goscinny
Born(1926-08-14)14 August 1926
Paris, France
Died5 November 1977(1977-11-05) (aged 51)
Paris, France
Area(s)Cartoonist, Writer, Editor
Pseudonym(s)d'Agostini, Stanislas
Notable works
Le Petit Nicolas
Lucky Luke
CollaboratorsAlbert Uderzo
Jean-Jacques Sempé
Marcel Gotlib
Jean Tabary
Awardsfull list
Spouse(s)Gilberte Pollaro-Millo (1967–1977; his death; 1 child)

Early life

Goscinny was born in Paris in 1926, to a family of Jewish immigrants from Poland.[1] His parents were Stanisław Simkha Gościnny (the surname means hospitable in Polish; Simkha is his Jewish name meaning happiness), a chemical engineer from Warsaw, Poland, and Anna (Hanna) Bereśniak-Gościnna from Chodorków, a small village near Zhytomyr in the Second Polish Republic (now part of Ukraine).[2] Goscinny's grandfather, Abraham Lazare Berezniak, founded a printing company. [3] Claude, René's older brother, was born six years earlier, on 10 December 1920.

Stanisław and Anna had met in Paris and married in 1919. The Gościnnys moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, two years after René's birth, because of a chemical engineer post which Stanisław had obtained there. René spent a happy childhood in Buenos Aires, and studied in the French schools there. He had a habit of being the "class clown", probably to compensate for a natural shyness. He started drawing very early on, inspired by the illustrated stories which he enjoyed reading.

In December 1943, the year after he graduated from school, Goscinny's father died of a cerebral hemorrhage, forcing him to find a job. The next year, he got his first job, as an assistant accountant in a tire recovery factory. When he was laid off the following year, he became a junior illustrator in an advertising agency.[4]

Goscinny, along with his mother, left Argentina and went to New York in 1945, to join her brother Boris. To avoid service in the United States Armed Forces, he travelled to France to join the French Army in 1946. He served at Aubagne, in the 141st Alpine Infantry Battalion. Promoted to senior corporal, he became the appointed artist of the regiment and drew illustrations and posters for the army.

First works

The following year, he illustrated the book The Girl with The Eyes of Gold and returned to New York. On his arrival Goscinny went through the most difficult period of his life. For a while, he was jobless, alone and in poverty. By 1948, though, he recovered and started working in a small studio where he became friends with future MAD Magazine contributors Will Elder, Jack Davis and Harvey Kurtzman.[4] Goscinny then became art director at Kunen Publishers where he wrote four books for children. Around this time he met two Belgian comic artists, Joseph Gillain, better known as Jijé, and Maurice de Bevere, also known as Morris, the cartoonist and author of the series Lucky Luke (which Goscinny would write from 1955 until his death in 1977).[4]

Georges Troisfontaines, chief of the World Press agency, convinced Goscinny to return to Paris and work for his agency as the head of the Paris office in 1951. There he met Albert Uderzo, with whom he started a longtime collaboration.[4][5] They started out with some work for Bonnes Soirées, a women's magazine for which Goscinny wrote Sylvie. Goscinny and Uderzo also launched the series Jehan Pistolet and Luc Junior in La Libre Junior.

In 1955, Goscinny, together with Uderzo, Jean-Michel Charlier, and Jean Hébrad, founded the syndicate Edipress/Edifrance. The syndicate launched publications like Clairon for the factory union and Pistolin for a chocolate company. Goscinny and Uderzo cooperated on the series Bill Blanchart in Jeannot, Pistolet in Pistolin and Benjamin et Benjamine in the magazine of the same name. Under the pseudonym Agostini, Goscinny wrote Le Petit Nicolas for Jean-Jacques Sempé in Le Moustique and later Sud-Ouest and Pilote magazines.

In 1956, Goscinny began a collaboration with Tintin magazine. He wrote some short stories for Jo Angenot and Albert Weinberg, and worked on Signor Spaghetti with Dino Attanasio, Monsieur Tric with Bob de Moor, Prudence Petitpas with Maurice Maréchal, Globul le Martien and Alphonse with Tibet, Strapontin with Berck and Modeste et Pompon with André Franquin. An early creation with Uderzo, Oumpah-pah, was also adapted for serial publication in Tintin from 1958-1962.[6] In addition, Goscinny appeared in the magazines Paris-Flirt (Lili Manequin with Will) and Vaillant (Boniface et Anatole with Jordom, Pipsi with Godard).

Pilote and Astérix

In 1959, the Édifrance/Édipresse syndicate started the Franco-Belgian comics magazine Pilote.[7] Goscinny became one of the most productive writers for the magazine. In the magazine's first issue, he launched Astérix, with Uderzo. The series was an instant hit and remains popular worldwide. Goscinny also restarted the series Le Petit Nicolas and Jehan Pistolet, now called Jehan Soupolet. Goscinny also began Jacquot le Mousse and Tromblon et Bottaclou with Godard.

The magazine was bought by Georges Dargaud in 1960, and Goscinny became editor-in-chief. He also began new series like Les Divagations de Monsieur Sait-Tout (with Martial), La Potachologie Illustrée (with Cabu), Les Dingodossiers (with Gotlib) and La Forêt de Chênebeau (with Mic Delinx). With Tabary, he launched Calife Haroun El Poussah in Record, a series that was later continued in Pilote as Iznogoud. With Raymond Macherot he created Pantoufle for Spirou.


Goscinny married Gilberte Pollaro-Millo in 1967. In 1968 their daughter Anne Goscinny, who also became an author, was born.


Goscinny died at 51, in Paris of cardiac arrest on 5 November 1977, during a routine stress test at his doctor's office.[8] He was buried in the Jewish Cemetery of Nice. In accordance with his will, most of his money was transferred to the chief rabbinate of France.

After Goscinny's death, Uderzo began to write Asterix himself and continued the series, although at a much slower pace, until passing the series over in 2011 to writer Jean-Yves Ferri and illustrator Didier Conrad.[9] Tabary similarly began to write Iznogoud himself, whereas Morris continued Lucky Luke with various other writers.

In a tribute to Goscinny, Uderzo gave his likeness to one of the characters in L'Odyssée d'Astérix ("Asterix and the Black Gold").


Since 1996, the René Goscinny Award is presented at the yearly Angoulême International Comics Festival in France as an encouragement for young comic writers.

According to UNESCO's Index Translationum, Goscinny, as of August 2017, was the 20th most-translated author, with 2,200 translations of his work.[10]


Series Years Magazine Albums Editor Artist
Lucky Luke[b] 1955–19770 Spirou and Pilote 38 Dupuis and Dargaud0 Morris
Modeste et Pompon0[a][b] 1955–1958 Tintin 02 Lombard André Franquin
Prudence Petitpas 1957–1959 Tintin Lombard Maurice Maréchal0
Signor Spaghetti 1957–1965 Tintin 15 Lombard Dino Attanasio
Oumpah-pah 1958–1962 Tintin 03 Lombard Albert Uderzo
Strapontin 1958–1964 Tintin 04 Lombard Berck
Astérix[b] 1959–1977 Pilote 24 Dargaud Albert Uderzo
Le Petit Nicolas 1959–1965 Pilote 05 Denoël Sempé
Iznogoud[b] 1962–1977 Record and Pilote0 14 Dargaud Jean Tabary
Les Dingodossiers 1965–1967 Pilote 03 Dargaud Gotlib
  • a.   ^ As part of a writers' team coming up with gags.
  • b.   ^ The series Lucky Luke, Modeste et Pompon, Asterix and Iznogoud were continued by other writers after Goscinny's death.


  1. Garcia, Laure. "Uderzo, le dernier Gaulois". Le Nouvel Observateur (in French).
  2. According to Yeruham Eniss the village had a soap factory that supplied the large Jewish community of nearby Chortkow with jobs selling and trading in soap. A census made in the late 1930s counted 3670 Jewish families in Khodorkov before World War II (ShtetLinks website)
  4. Lambiek Comiclopedia. "René Goscinny".
  5. Lagardère. "Release of the 33rd Asterix volume".
  6. Asterix International!. "Albert Uderzo".
  7. BDoubliées. "Pilote année 1959" (in French).
  8. "Le gag raté de Goscinny : mourir d'un arrêt du cœur chez son cardiologue". Sciences et Avenir (in French). Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-08-21.
  9. Iovene, Franck. "Italy beckons for Gaul comic heros Asterix and Obelix".
  10. UNESCO Statistics. "Index Translationum - "TOP 50" Author". Official website of UNESCO. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Retrieved 12 August 2017.


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