PARIS (AFP) - The co-creator of legendary comic strip character Asterix, Mr Albert Uderzo, has come out of retirement to pen cartoons in memory of the victims of the killings at French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
"Moi aussi je suis un Charlie (I'm Charlie too)," says Asterix in one of the cartoons released on Friday, in which he appears to have punched an adversary high into the air.
The sketch borrows from the slogan "Je suis Charlie", which has been adopted by protesters around the world horrified by an attack on freedom of expression - the magazine has a reputation for mocking Islam and other religions.
The second cartoon shows Asterix and his sidekick, Obelix, bowing their heads in grief, holding their hats. Asterix grasps a rose, and their pet, Dogmatix, has a sad look on its face.
"Charlie Hebdo and Asterix are very different, of course. I am not going to change my stripes," said 87-year-old Mr Uderzo.
"I simply wanted to show my friendship for these cartoonists who have paid with their lives," he told Europe 1 radio.
The Albert-Rene publishing house that holds the rights to the Asterix books said Mr Uderzo "was close to Cabu", or Mr Jean Cabut, one of the cartoonists shot dead by two Islamist gunmen who stormed Charlie Hebdo's Paris offices on Wednesday in an attack that claimed 12 lives.
Mr Uderzo has joined cartoonists around the world to pay tribute to some of France's best-known cartoonists slain in the attack, by producing special drawings in their memory.
The presumed killers of the Charlie Hebdo staff, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, were shot dead by French police after they had taken a hostage north of Paris on Friday in a dramatic end to the three-day manhunt for them.
Asterix is the highest-selling series of cartoon books in the world and has been translated into 111 languages.