René Goscinny (August 14, 1926 – November 5, 1977) was a French writer who was the co-creator of Asterix, along with Albert Uderzo. Goscinny was born in Paris is Polish/Ukrainian/Jewish parents and grew up in Argentina.
Goscinny was born in Paris in 1926, to a family of Polish and Jewish descent; his parents were Stanisław "Simkha" Gościnny (the surname means hospitable in Polish), a chemical engineer from Warsaw, Poland, and Anna Bereśniak-Gościnna from Chodorków, a small village in the Second Polish Republic, now Ukraine. Claude, René's older brother was born 6 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 Stanisław had obtained there. He spent a happy childhood in Buenos Aires, and studied in the French schools there. He had a habit of making everyone laugh in class, 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, 17 year old Goscinny lost his father to 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, and when he was laid off the following year, he became a junior illustrator in an advertising agency.
Goscinny, along with his mother, left Argentina and went to New York in 1945, to join their uncle, Boris, there. To avoid service in the US military, 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 illustrator of the regiment and drew illustrations and posters for the army.
Work prior to the creation of Asterix
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 totally broke. By 1948, though, he recovered and started working in a small studio where he met and became friends with future Mad alumni Will Elder, Jack Davis and Harvey Kurtzman. Goscinny then became art director at Kunen Publishers where he wrote four books for children. Around this time he met Joseph Gillain, better known as Jijé, and Maurice de Bevere aka Morris, the cartoonist and author of the series Lucky Luke (which Goscinny would write from 1955 to his death in 1977).
Also, he met Georges Troisfontaines, chief of the World Press agency, who convinced Goscinny to return to Paris and work for his agency as the head of Paris office in 1951. Here, he met Albert Uderzo, with whom he started a longtime cooperation. They started out with some work for Bonnes Soirées, a female 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, accompanied by Jean-Michel Charlier, Albert Uderzo 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.
In 1956, Goscinny began a collaboration with the magazine Tintin. 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. In addition, Goscinny appeared in the magazines Paris-Flirt (Lili Manequin with Will) and Vaillant (Boniface et Anatole with Jordom, Pipsi with Godard).
Collaboration with Uderzo and other artists
In 1959, the Édifrance/Édipresse syndicate started the comics magazine Pilote. Goscinny became one of the most productive writers for the magazine. In the magazine's first issue, he launched his most famous creation, Astérix, with Uderzo. This series was an instant hit and is now known 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 died in Paris from a heart attack on 5 November 1977, at the age of 51.
Goscinny married Gilberte Pollaro-Millo in 1967. In 1968 their daughter Anne Goscinny was born, who also became an author.