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October 23, 2014

The Smurfs are Born

On October 23, 1958, the Smurfs were born, created by Belgian cartoonist Peyo

Entertainment History

On October 23, 1958, the Smurfs were born. Belgian cartoonist Peyo, the pen name of Pierre Cuilliford, published the first Smurf as part of his comic strip Johan and Peewit (the English translation) for Spirou magazine. The strip was set during Medieval times, and Johan, a page to the king, and Peewit, Johan’s small but boastful companion, traveled throughout Europe having adventures. While trying to find a magic flute, they encountered blue human-like creatures called “Schtroumpfs” (later translated as “Smurfs”).

A certain uniformity among the Smurfs prevails.Indeed, there seems to be a philosophy of equality that runs throughout. (There have been articles that try to read between the lines and eek out meaning, such as the effects of socialism on Europe as seen in the stories of the Smurfs. Peyo maintains that they are just stories and not a cultural theory or critique.) But, back to discussing their uniformity, each Smurf is blue and each one contributes something to the society. They seem to have the necessities of life without the need for money. In their language, “Smurf” can be a noun or a verb and mean a variety of things – although not always the same thing to each Smurf. They lived in a village of mushroom-shaped houses in a forest. Their enemies include Gargamel, the sorcerer, who wants their essence to turn base metals into gold. There’s also Bigmouth, the ogre, who wants to eat soup made of Smurfs. The Howlibird wants to destroy the Smurf village.

The Smurfs are popular in America and internationally and have inspired many others. Hanna-Barbera adapted them for their cartoon series The Smurfs in 1981. There have been animated films, a 3D film, music, DVDs, rides, theme parks, games, video games, dolls, drinks, cereals, and all other sorts of merchandise. It’s quite a franchise.

So let us Smurf that in our Smurfs and Smurf it.

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