Asterix creator Albert Uderzo quits drawing at 84

Albert Uderzo and Anne Goscinny Uderzo and Goscinny's daughter, Anne, received trophies to mark the 350 millionth Asterix book sale

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Asterix creator Albert Uderzo is handing over the reins to a younger artist after 52 years drawing the famous comic book hero.

The Italian-born illustrator invented the warrior Gaul with his scriptwriter friend, Rene Goscinny, in 1959.

Uderzo, 84, took over the writing for the comic book after the death of Goscinny in 1977, although many fans felt his scripts were lacking.

Publishers Hachette recently celebrated the sale of 350 million Asterix books.

"I've decided there should be some continuity, and I want it to carry on for generations and generations," Uderzo told RTL radio.

A new book is planned for "the end of 2012" under a new, as yet unnamed artist, "who has been following us for a long time inside a studio I set up," Uderzo said.

The adventures of Asterix and his sidekick Obelix have been translated into more than 100 languages.

There was some controversy in France last year after publishers allowed Asterix to be used in a McDonald's campaign, with some accusing Uderzo of selling out, although the character had already featured in an advertisement for the fast food chain in 2002.

Asterix's adventures have been turned into several live action and animation films, including the recent series starring Gerard Depardieu as Obelix.

The next film to be released will be Asterix and Obelix: On Her Majesty's Service (God Save Britannia), in 2012.

It will feature Edouard Baer as Asterix, who crosses the channel to help second-cousin Anticlimax fight Julius Caesar and the invading Roman army.

Depardieu will reprise his role as Obelix

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