Tuesday, 13 August 2013


Shortly after the Smurfs had their own first adventure in a supplement of Spirou in 1959, they re-appeared in a new adventure of Johan and Pirlouit serialized in Spirou. The smurfs' appearance in 'Le Guerre des 7 fontaines [The War of 7 Seven Fountains]' is relatively brief, taking up four pages. Johan and Pirlouit are trying to lift an old witch's curse which had dried up the fountains in a once prosperous region and, by chance, they meet Papa Smurf who helps them by bringing forth a special forked stick which can locate underground water sources:
Like the other 'Johan et Pirlouit' adventures from those years, 'Le Guerre des 7 fontaines' was serialized in Turkey in the weekly Küçük Prens in a traced, black & white edition and the smurfs' appearance was not omitted for abridgement purposes this time, as it had been in the case of the Turkish edition of 'La flute a six trous' where the Smurfs had first debutted.
Next up in this blog will be the debut of Gargamel, so stay tuned..

Sunday, 11 August 2013


Shortly after debutting as side-characters in an adventure of 'Johan et Pirlouit' serialized in the Belgian comics magazine Spirou in 1958, the Smurfs had their own first adventure in a pocket-sized supplement (mini-récit) of Spirou no. 1107, dated July 2nd, 1959. Titled as Les Schtroumpfs noirs [The Black Smurfs], this adventure was scripted by Yvon Delporte who was Spirou's editor-in-chief at the time; over the years, Delporte would contribute more scripts to the Smurfs.
Les Schtroumpfs noirs start with a reminder that the Smurfs are "the small inhabitants of the Cursed Land'" which Johan and Pirlouit had met in the adventure 'La Flûte à six schtroumpfs' (note that the said adventure is already being referred as ".. six schtroumpfs" rather than ".. six trous" as it was originally titled). The visual depiction of the smurfs' village is in line with the depiction in the earlier 'Johan et Pirlouit' adventure, that is located in a bleak terrain:
 A smurf is bitten in his tail by a black fly and turns into a menacing black smurf:
We get to see the interior of Papa Smurf's cabin for the first time as he begins work to try to find an antidote:
 Meanwhile, the black plague spreads among the smurfs:
Just as Pape Smurf finds an antidote in the form of a powder, the growing band of the black smurfs attack the village and a battle ensues:
Papa Smurf himself is bitten by a black smurf who had painted himself blue as a disguise. Luckily, an accidental explosion in his cabin, which, by the way, enables the readers to see that he is bald under his hood!, disperses the antidote powder into the air... 
 ... eliminating the plague and hence bringing forth a happy end:
Note that the smurf village, seen from an aerial perspective for the first time, is rather small with less than a dozen mushroom houses as depicted in this early stage of the evolution of the smurfs comics. Also, it is still only the Papa Smurf who is presented with a distinct identity in the smurf community. However, the first smurf which was bitten by the black fly was portrayed as lazy as well as somewhat grumpy prior to being sent by Papa Smurf to the forest to cut down down some wood, so he can be seen as the first forerunner of the personalization of individal smurfs.
Overall, Les Schtroumpfs noirs is a great little comics. It is fast-paced, very dynamic. The black smurfs are an uncanny menace, not only by their outer look, but also by the fact that they bite their counterparts in their tails at the back. Freud might have seen some hint of homophopia at work here, in the faint resemblance of this violent act to anal rape.. On the other hand, in the post-war continental European consciousness, black was associated with fascism due to the Italian 'blackshirts', paramilitary fascist thugs, of the Mussolini era and a political connotation might also be seen.
In 1963, Peyo would redraw Les Schtroumpfs noirs for an album edition; a comparison of the mini-récit and the album versions will be posted in thisblog in due course.
'Les Schtroumpfs noirs' is also one of the episodes of a relatively obscure black & white Belgian television animated series from circa early 1960s. When the Smurfs were made into an American television series in 1981, the episode based on Les Schtroumpfs noirs would feature purple, rather than black, smurfs, apparently not to scare American kids too much...

Saturday, 10 August 2013


The above is a (slightly cropped, due to the size of my scanner) scan of the cover illustration of the no. 34, dated July 11, 1935, of the Turkish weekly children's magazine Afacan. These tiny dwarfs appear in several covers of Afacan between 1934-36. Most of the graphic material in these early issues of the magazine appear to originate from French sources, so there is a good chance that these illustrations might also be of French origin. If indeed so, perhaps Peyo (born in 1928) might have seen them in his early childhood?.. and the images making an impression on him in those tender ages, remaining in his memory consciously or unconsciously and partially contributing to his creation of the Smurfs? Of course, dwarves are a part of the European mythology/folklore and Peyo does not need to see these particular renditions to conceive of the smurfs, but if he had indeed seen them?

Friday, 9 August 2013


In the post-World War 2 era and well into late the 1980s, a not-so-seldom means of publication in comics business in Turkey, especially with regards to low budget publishers, was printing the Turkish editions from black & white copies traced by Turkish illustrators on to transparent sheets from the pages of color comics bought from stores selling imported publications. In 1960, Bilgi Yayınları [Bilgi Publications] began publishing the weekly Küçük Prens comics featuring traced editions of 'Johan et Pirlouit'. Over the decades, ownership of Küçük Prens passed into several different publishers reprinting the same old traced editions from the early 1960s. 'La Flûte à six trous/schtroumpfs' where the Smurfs had originally debutted as side-characters was one of the 12 'Johan et Pirlouit' adventures which were presented to Turkish readers in traced editions in Küçük Prens. However, the Smurfs are almost entirely missing from 'Sihirli Flüt [the Enchanted Flute], the Turkish traced edition of this adventure!...
The first-ever pseudo-appearance of a smurf as a pair of mysterious eyes has made it into the traced Turkish edition allright, but that's all:

The second half-hidden appearance of smurfs in pages 20-21 of the original version has been omitted, as are all subsequent appearances, totaling more than 16 pages of the total 60 pages of the original edition. The plot -and one panel- has been revised so that Hamuryutan [Homnibus] himself provides an enchanted flute to Küçük Prens and Afacan [Johan and Pirlouit] rather than sending them away to the Smurfs to get one from them:
Hence, Johan and Pirlouit's all encounters with the Smurfs are entirely omitted and one panel, from page 49 of the original edition, where the smurfs make a slight appearance has been revised to remove them:
Since the smurfs are not available, does Afacan get to keep the flute at the end of this version? No such luck for him as the adventure ends with Küçük Prens saying they should throw it to the sea...

Thursday, 1 August 2013


Whereas the Smurfs owe their global popularity and being a household name to the animated American television series of the 1980s, they had actually debuted in the comics medium in continental Europe in the late 1950s.
The Smurfs were created by the Belgian comics artist Pierre Culliford (1928-1992) who signed his works as "Peyo". In 1946, Peyo had created a strip for the Belgian newspaper La Derniére Heure chronicling the adventures of a medieval page named Johan. In 1952, he began working for the comics magazine Spirou and continued writing and drawing Johan there, soon to be re-titled as 'Johan et Pirlouit' as the lead character was joined by a side-kick. Peyo introduced the Smurfs (Les Schtroumpfs) in the 9nth 'Johan et Pirlouit' adventure serialized in Spirou. Originally titled as 'La Flûte à six trous [The flute with six holes]', this adventure, which began in Spirou no. 1047 dated May 8th, 1958 and ended in no. 1086 dated February 5th, 1959, revolves around an enchanted flute which compels everyone around to go dancing involuntarily when played. Accidentaly left behind from a street seller, Pirlouit gets hold of it.
On page 18, the readers are given a glimpse a pair of mysterious eyes spying on Johan and Pirlouit:
On pages 20-21, when this mysterious creature unsuccessfully attempts to pilfer the flute, we see that s/he has blue hands!, and that's when the word "schtroumpf" is first uttered:
Eventually, a villainous human character steals the flute from Pirlouit and begans to utilize it in a series of robberies as a means to incapacitate everyone around by compelling them to dance! Realizing that the only way to defeat this villain is to have another enchanted flute, Johan and Pirlouit go to their old acquaintance, Homnibus the enchanter.
Homnibus tells them that the enchanted flutes are manufactured by Les Schtroumpfs who live in the "cursed land!" where no road leads to. To go there, "one must cross raging streams, marshes that emit deadly vapours, forests infested with snakes and quicksands"... However, Homnibus manages to somehow transport Johan and Pirlouit to the land of the Smurfs by "hypnokinésie" and our heroes finally meet a smurf in full person on page 37:
Note that the pyhsical apperance of the smurfs as first drawn by Peyo way back in 1958 is slightly different than we are now used to, with respect to their hats especially. The smurf village seen for the first time in the same page is also located in a rather bleak terrain, much different than the green landscape we are used to:
Papa Smurf or Grand Schtroumpf, as he is named in the original French-language editions, is introduced to Johan and Pirlouit in the next page:
In this adventure, only Papa Smurf is differentiated from the rest of the smurfs none of whom are given individual identities.
The rest of the adventure has the smurfs making an enchanted flute for Johan and Pirlouit who use it to overpower the villain. In the end, the smurfs take back the enchanted flutes so that they won't fall into wrong hands again.
The Smurfs would soon have their own adventures in pocket-sized supplements of Spirou and when 'La Flûte à six trous' would eventually be reprinted in album format in 1960, it would be re-titled as La Flûte à six schtroumpfs to acknowledge the newly rising popularity of the Smurfs. It would also be adapted to the screen as a feature-length animated movie in 1975, which I will cover in this blog in the future.
The next post in this blog will be on the rather unbeliavable Turkish edition of 'La Flûte à six trous/schtroumpfs'.


I myself had first met the Smurfs (Les Schtroumpfs) at the age of 7, in 1975, when my parents had bought and brought home for me to read an issue of the Turkish children's weekly magazine Doğan Kardeş; the Smurfs was one of the several color comics being serialized there. I was immediately fascinated by it and have remained so to this day, now having a sizeable Smurfs collection of both the Turkish and the original French editions. The idea of reading back them in chronological order of their original publication dates and making an online blog out of this was in my mind for some time, but, naturally, life had been intervening. Now, I take the worldwide release of the movie The Smurfs 2 during this summer vacation as a trigger to finally start this blog. Hope you'll enjoy it...