Albert Uderzo, co-creator of one of France's greatest comic book heroes, Asterix the Gaul, said on Monday he was hanging up his pen at the age of 84 but had found several successors to carry on his legacy.
The Italian-born artist, who dreamt up the indomitable warrior with his scriptwriter friend Rene Goscinny in 1959, said he was "a bit tired" after 52 years of drawing and that it was time to hand over his creation to younger talent.
The announcement came on the day publishing house Hachette celebrated the sale of 350 million Asterix books around the world, making the diminutive hero one of France's biggest-selling exports.
"I've decided that there should be some continuity, and I want it to carry on for generations and generations," Uderzo told RTL radio.
Asterix and his jovial sidekick Obelix first appeared in print in October 1959, and their adventures fighting the Roman invaders have since been translated into over 100 languages.
Following the death of Goscinny in 1977, Uderzo took over both the writing and artwork for the comic book, drawing criticism from die-hard fans who felt his scripts lacked Goscinny's humour and irony.
The recent appearance of Asterix and his friends in a billboard advertising campaign for McDonald's also sparked outcry, with some accusing Uderzo of selling out the diminutive Gaul to capitalist invaders. (Reporting By Vicky Buffery)