René Goscinny is born in Paris on the 14th of August, 1926, but
raised in Argentina. He does his military service in France, shortly
after the war, then leaves to try his luck in New York. He does all kinds
of odd jobs in the publishing business and art.
He meets the dynamic trio of Harvey Kurtzman, Bill Elder and Jack Davis (the future founders of MAD), but more particularly several Belgians: Jijé, Morris and Georges Troisfontaines. The latter, the boss of World Press in Brussels, promises him a job upon his return to Europe. Taking him at his word, Goscinny steps into his office one fine day with his first entirely self-made comic book, an adventure of the detective "Dick Dicks", which will appear in several Belgian newspapers.
Hired by World Press Paris as a general dogsbody, Goscinny strikes up a friendship with Albert Uderzo and starts to write "Lucky Luke" scripts for Morris. His career as an illustrator ends after his second work, "Le Capitaine Bibobu", published in RISQUE-TOUT in 1955.
He writes better than he draws, just like the literary manager of the agency, Jean-Michel Charlier who traded his brushes and pencil for a typewriter in the early fifties.
During his five years of apprenticeship, Goscinny proves himself as a versatile and gifted worker, taking in the work from his colleagues, participating in an unsuccessful attempt to launch a weekly on television in the United States (TV FAMILY), writing funny chronicles and life-style articles in LES BONNES SOIRÉES, bubbling with ideas for realistic short stories for LE MOUSTIQUE, inspired by a pile of American illustrations bought cheaply, and producing a huge number of scripts.
Uderzo illustrates his funny adventures of "Jehan Pistolet" and "Luc Junior" for LA LIBRE BELGIQUE. Martial asks him for gags for his "Sylvie" published by LES BONNES SOIRÉES. He encourages Sempé to give the comic strip a try in LE MOUSTIQUE, which results in his first recurring character, "Le Petit Nicolas". At Dupuis he writes a few scripts for "Lucky Luke" realised virtually anonymously-, a few stories of "Oncle Paul" and a short episode of "Jerry Spring" for Jijé ("L'Or du vieux Lender").
Having an exclusive rights contract with the agency makes him feel powerless, and together with Charlier and Uderzo he proposes to Belgian authors to adopt a professional "Charter" to limit the powers of publishing companies and their agents. As soon as the project is launched, the three "rebels" find themselves out on the Parisian streets.
Together with a fourth accomplice, Jean Hébrard, they then found the company Édipresse, which will illustrate several promotional magazines (PISTOLIN for Pupier chocolate, and CLAIRON for the company FABRIQUE-UNION).
With his regained independence Goscinny starts to write scripts for various illustrators of TINTIN in 1956: Jacques Angenot ("Mottie, la marmotte"), Dino Attanasio ("Signor Spaghetti"), Bob le Moor ("Le professeur Tric"), Maurice Maréchal ("Prudence Petitpas"), Tibet ("Globul le Martien"), André Franquin ("Modeste et Pompon"), Raymond Macherot ("Le père La Houle"), Berck ("Strapontin") and Uderzo ("Oumpapah-Pah").
With the support of Radio Luxembourg and a few sponsors, the Édipresse quartet launches the newspaper PILOTE on 29 October 1959, which will remain the weekly of Goscinny for a long time but no less the weekly of "Astérix et Obélix", the Gallic heroes created with his friend Uderzo who will conquer the whole world. The weekly is taken over by Georges Dargaud a year later, who retains his winning team, Goscinny for the humorous section and Charlier for the great realistic series.
Goscinny mainly works with illustrators whose company he enjoys: Godard ("Tromblon et Bottaclou"), Martial ("Les Divagations de Monsieur Sais-Tout"), Cabu ("La Potachologie"), Sempé ("Le Petit Nicolas", this time in the form of illustrated short stories), Marcel Gotlib ("Les Dingodossiers"), Tabary ("L'abominable Iznogoud", initially launched in the monthly RECORD), Morris ("Lucky Luke").
Always on the look-out, he discovers and accepts many new talents who overthrow the traditional rules of the classic comic strip. When publication is reduced to monthly editions in order to avoid a crisis, he devotes his time increasingly to his personal work. He dies on the 5th of November 1977 in the saddest gag he could have imagined: during a cardiac endurance test under medical supervision.
The work of Goscinny is not limited to comic strips: he has also written delicious short stories and chronicles, film scripts and short funny television programs. It is a pity that they were overshadowed by the triumphs of Astérix. The clarity of his style and his humour full of detailed observation place him between Giovanni Guareschi and Pierre Daninos.