WHO IS SMURFS?
The Smurfs (French: Les Schtroumpfs; Dutch: De Smurfen) is a Belgian comic franchise centered on a fictional colony of small, blue, human-like creatures who live in mushroom-shaped houses in the forest. The Smurfs was first created and introduced as a series of comic characters by the Belgian comics artist Peyo (the pen name of Pierre Culliford) in 1958, wherein they were known as Les Schtroumpfs. There are more than 100 Smurf characters, and their names are based on adjectives that emphasise their characteristics, such as "Jokey Smurf", who likes to play practical jokes on his fellow smurfs. "Smurfette" was the first female Smurf to be introduced in the series. The Smurfs wear Phrygian caps, which came to represent freedom during the modern era.
The word “smurf” is the original Dutch translation of the French "schtroumpf", which, according to Peyo, is a word he invented during a meal with fellow cartoonist André Franquin when he could not remember the word salt.
The Smurfs franchise began as a comic and expanded into advertising, films, TV series, ice capades, video games, theme parks, and dolls.
At the time he came up with the idea for the Smurfs, Peyo was the creator, artist, and writer of the Franco-Belgian comics series titled Johan et Pirlouit (translated to English as Johan and Peewit), set in Europe during the Middle Ages and including elements of sword-and-sorcery. Johan serves as a brave young page to the king, and Pirlouit (pronounced Peer-loo-ee) functions as his faithful, if boastful and cheating, midget sidekick. In 1958, Spirou magazine started to publish the Johan et Pirlouit story La Flûte à six trous ("The Flute with Six Holes"). The adventure involved them recovering a magic flute, which required some sorcery by the wizard Homnibus. In this manner, they met a tiny, blue-skinned humanoid in white clothing called a "Schtroumpf", followed by his numerous peers who looked just like him, with an elderly leader who wore red clothing and had a white beard. Their first full appearance was published in Spirou on October 23, 1958. The characters proved to be a huge success, and the first independent Smurf stories appeared in Spirou in 1959, together with the first merchandising. The Smurfs shared more adventures with Johan and Pirlouit, got their own series and all subsequent publications of the original story were retitled La Flûte à six Schtroumpfs (also the title of the movie version of the story).
With the commercial success of the Smurfs came the merchandising empire of Smurf miniatures, models, games, and toys. Entire collecting clubs have devoted themselves to collecting PVC Smurfs and Smurf merchandise.
Schtroumpf is pronounced like the German word "Strumpf" meaning "sock". However, according to Peyo, the original author of the Smurfs comic strip, the term and the accompanying language of the Smurfs came during a meal he had with his colleague and friend André Franquin at the Belgian Coast. Having momentarily forgotten the word "salt", Peyo asked him (in French) to pass the schtroumpf. Franquin jokingly replied, "Here's the Schtroumpf—when you are done schtroumpfing, schtroumpf it back..." and the two spent the rest of that weekend speaking in "schtroumpf language". The name was later translated into Dutch as Smurf, which was adopted in English.
Both the comics and cartoons have been translated in many languages. In most cases, the original name "Schtroumpf" is replaced by a new term. The most common are variations on the Dutch translation "Smurf", while other names are indicative of their gnome-like appearance.
In Spanish, they are called "Pitufos", a term invented by Miguel Agustí who was the head of the Spanish magazine Strong which first published the cartoon in Spanish. According to Agustí, he was walking around Barcelona while trying to come up a name for the cartoon. He came across a sculpture of the Ox of Patufet and was inspired by the word Patufet. From Patufet he derived the non-existent word Pitufo. The name later spread to most Spanish-language versions of the cartoon.
The storylines tend to be simple tales of bold adventure. The cast has a simple structure as well: almost all the characters look essentially alike—mostly male (a few female Smurfs have appeared: Smurfette, Sassette, and Nanny Smurf), short (three apples high), with blue skin, white trousers with a hole for their short tails, white hat in the style of a Phrygian cap, and sometimes some additional accessory that identifies a personality (for example, "Handy Smurf" wears overalls instead of the standard trousers, a brimmed hat, and a pencil above his ear). Smurfs can walk and run, but often move by skipping on both feet. They love to eat sarsaparilla (a species of Smilax) leaves, whose berries the Smurfs naturally call "smurfberries" (the smurfberries appear only in the cartoon; in the original comics, the Smurfs only eat the leaves from the sarsaparilla).
The Smurfs fulfill simple archetypes of everyday people: "Lazy Smurf", "Grouchy Smurf", "Brainy Smurf", and so on. All Smurfs, with the exception of Papa, Baby, Smurfette, Nanny and Grandpa, are said to be 100 years old. There were originally 99 Smurfs, but this number increased as new Smurf characters appeared, such as Sassette and Nanny. All of the original Smurfs were male; later female additions are Smurfette and Sassette—Smurfette being Gargamel's creation, while Sassette was created by the Smurflings.
A characteristic of the Smurf language is the frequent use of the undefinable word "smurf" and its derivatives in a variety of meanings. The Smurfs frequently replace both nouns and verbs in everyday speech with the word "smurf": "We're going smurfing on the River Smurf today." When used as a verb, the word "Smurf" typically means "to make", "to be", "to like", or "to do".
Humans have found that replacing ordinary words with the term "smurf" at random is not enough: in one adventure, Peewit explains to some other humans that the statement "I'm smurfing to the smurf" means "I'm going to the wood", but a Smurf corrects him by saying that the proper statement would be "I'm smurfing to the smurf"; whereas what Peewit said was "I'm warbling to the dawn". So "I'm smurfing to the smurf" is not the same as "I'm smurfing to the smurf".
In the animated series, only some words (or a portion of the word) are replaced with the word "smurf". Context offers a reliable understanding of this speech pattern, but common vocabulary includes remarking that something is "just smurfy" or in some cases, "smurftastic".
In Schtroumpf vert et vert Schtroumpf (see Smurf Versus Smurf), published in Belgium in 1972, it was revealed that the smurf village was divided between North and South, and that the Smurfs on either side had different ideas as to how the term "smurf" should be used: for instance, the Northern Smurfs called a certain object a "bottle smurfer", while the Southern Smurfs called it a "smurf opener". This story is considered a parody on the still ongoing taalstrijd (language war) between French- and Dutch-speaking communities in Belgium.
When they first appeared in 1958, the Smurfs lived in a part of the world called "Le Pays Maudit" (French for "the Cursed Land"). To reach it required magic or travelling through dense forests, deep marshes, a scorching desert and a high mountain range. The Smurfs themselves use storks in order to travel long distances, such as to the kingdom where Johan and Pirlouit live, and keep up-to-date with events in the outside world.
In the Johan et Pirlouit stories, the Smurf village is made up of mushroom-like houses of different shapes and sizes in a desolate and rocky land with just a few trees. However, in the Smurf series itself, the mushroom-like houses are more similar to one another and are located in a clearing in the middle of a deep forest with grass, a river, and vegetation. Humans such as Gargamel are shown to live nearby, though it is almost impossible for an outsider to find the Smurf village except when led by a Smurf.
The Smurfs' community generally takes the form of a cooperative, sharing, and kind environment based on the principle that each Smurf has something they are good at, and thus contributes it to Smurf society as they can. In return, each Smurf appears to be given their necessities of life, from housing and clothes to food without using any money in exchange.
Papa Smurf is the leader of the community. Other Smurfs are generally named after their personality disposition, much like Disney's Seven Dwarfs; for example, Brainy, Greedy, Vanity, Lazy, Clumsy, Hefty, Jokey, Dreamy, Grouchy, or their profession, for example, Poet, Actor, Handy, Harmony, Farmer, Clockwork, Painter, Tailor, Miner, Architect, Reporter, Timber, Barber and Doctor Smurf. The first female Smurf, Smurfette, was created by Gargamel to lure the other Smurfs. Papa Smurf then changed her into what we see today. The non-Smurf characters who would appear later would include their enemies the wizard Gargamel, his cat Azrael, an ugly witch, Hogatha and Gargamel's godfather Balthazar; and their friends the page Johan and his young friend Peewit and the wizard Homnibus. There are 105 Smurfs.
Since the first appearance of the Smurfs in Johan et Pirlouit in 1958, 31 Smurf comics volumes have been created, 16 of them by Peyo, the others by his studio. Originally, the Smurf stories appeared in Spiroumagazine with reprints in many different magazines, but after Peyo left the publisher Dupuis, many comics were first published in dedicated Smurf magazines, which existed in French, Dutch, German and Turkish. A number of short stories and one page gags have been collected into comic books next to the regular series of 30 including a newly released Smurfs comics enitiled Les Schtroumpfs de L'ordre (The Order Law of the Smurfs). English translations have been published in the U.S. by the graphic novel publisher Papercutz as well as a mini series published by Marvel Comics in the mid-1980s.
In 1965, a black-and-white 87-minute animated film called Les Aventures des Schtroumpfs was released in theatres in Belgium. It consisted of five short cartoons made in the previous years for broadcasting on Walloon TV. German copies and copies with Dutch subtitles are known to exist. The stories were based on existing Smurf stories like The Black Smurfs and The Smurfs and the Egg, and were created by writer Maurice Rosy and artist Eddy Ryssack from the small Dupuis animation studios. In total, ten animated shorts were created between 1961 and 1967, the first series in black and white and the later ones in colour.
In 1976, La Flûte à six schtroumpfs (an adaptation of the original "Johan et Pirlouit" story) was released. Michel Legrand provided the musical score to the film. The film would be released in the United States in 1983 (after the animated series became popular there) in an English language dubbed version titled The Smurfs and the Magic Flute. A few more full-length Smurf films were made, most notably The Baby Smurf and Here are the Smurfs, created from episodes of the Hanna-Barbera television cartoon series.
Sony Pictures has announced plans to begin a trilogy of live-action/computer-animated Smurf films, with the first film released on July 29, 2011. The project had been in various stages of development since 2003. In June 2008, it was announced that Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation had acquired film rights from Lafig Belgium. Jordan Kerner produced the film, with the screenwriters including Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third screenwriters J. David Stem and David N. Weiss. The film stars Jonathan Winters as Papa Smurf, Katy Perry as Smurfette, George Lopez as Grouchy Smurf, Gary Basarabaas Hefty Smurf, John Oliver as Vanity Smurf, Alan Cumming as Gutsy Smurf, Paul Reubens as Jokey Smurf, Hank Azaria as Gargamel, Neil Patrick Harris as Patrick Winslow and Jayma Mays as Grace Winslow, a couple in New York who help the Smurfs get back to their village. It was suggested that Quentin Tarantino would play Brainy Smurf, but this "didn't work out" so Fred Armisen voices Brainy instead. A CGI/traditionally animated mini-film, titled The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol, was released on December 2, 2011, on The Smurfs DVD and Blu-ray. A sequel to The Smurfs, titled The Smurfs 2, was released on July 31, 2013. A fully animated Smurfs reboot film, Smurfs: The Lost Village, was released in April 7, 2017, with Demi Lovato starring as Smurfette.[