There are not that many people in the world today who don’t know who the Smurfs are. Some of us may have grown up with them when they first came out in the 80’s or some of us might be more familiar with them due to the Smurf movies that were released in 2011 and 2013. Either way, most of us know who the Smurfs are regardless of how we learned about them but how many of us know how the Smurfs were created? Well, it all happened many years ago and many, many miles away…..
The Smurfs were created by a man named Pierre Culliford, otherwise known as Peyo. Peyo was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1928 to an English father and a Belgian mother. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels but at the age of 17 he dropped out to try and work in advertising. While giving advertising a try, he met another cartoonist named Maurice de Bevere, Maurice went on to create the comic Lucky Luke in 1946.
In 1954, Maurice went to work for the comic company Dupuis which published the comic Spirou and Peyo followed him there. Peyo had created a comic called “Johan” which was about a medieval pageboy. When Peyo arrived to draw for Spirou, he changed up Johan’s look and gave him a sidekick named Pirlouit which also meant Peewee. His comic then became Johan and Pirlouit.
It was 1958, that in an issue of Johan and Peewee, Peyo first introduced the Smurfs. The story was called La Flute a Six Trous(The Flute with Six Holes). In the story, Johan and Peewee come across Les Schtroumpfs or as we know them The Smurfs. The word “smurf” is the original Dutch translation of the French “schtroumpf”, which, according to Peyo, is a word invented during a meal with fellow cartoonist André Franquin, when he could not remember the word salt.
So how did the Smurfs make their way over to North America? Thanks to a little girl named Melissa Silverman is how. Melissa took notice of the Smurfs when a song called “Smurf Song” was released in English by Father Abraham. The song became a big hit in the UK, Australia and North America. Melissa wanted a television show made about the Smurfs and it just so happened that her father was NBC Television executive Fred Silverman. Fred contacted Hanna Barbera and just like that the Smurfs had a TV show! Not long after the show hit the air, it became Smurf mania across North America. Everywhere you looked there was some sort of Smurf merchandise you could buy, from dolls, mugs, bedding, food to lunch boxes. The Smurfs made a big impact on North America. Even Peyo himself said he could have never imagined how popular his little blue creations would be.
In 1989, after the show ended the Smurf craziness started slowing down. Things may have slowed down but the Smurfs definitely didn’t disappear. A big reason for this is thanks to Peyo heirs. Sadly on December 24, 1992, Peyo died of a heart attack but his heirs continued to support the Smurfs with collectibles, promotions and publications throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Peyo’s legacy has still continued on in America with the Columbia Pictures Smurf Movie being released in 2011 and then a sequel later in 2013. The movie brought in a new wave of merchandise to keep new and old Smurf fans happy. Even though the popularity of the Smurfs is not the same as it once was, Pierre Culliford’s creation is one that I don’t think will ever fade away.
Now you know the story of how the Smurfs were created, so now it’s time to learn about what and who they are.
In early descriptions of the Smurfs, Peyo described them as being three apples tall and that they lived during the medieval era. He made them the colour blue because he thought it was a colour that children would like. They each wear Phrygian caps which came to represent freedom during the modern era and each Smurfs name was based on adjectives that emphasized their characteristics. For example, there is Jokey Smurf and he was named that because he enjoys playing practical jokes on his fellow Smurfs. There are over 100 Smurfs and they live in mushroom houses in a Village hidden in the forest. They speak a dialect that makes heavy use of the word “smurf”, it is used as a noun, verb and pretty much everything in between. An example would be “Have a smurfy day” or “What a beautiful smurfy night”. The Village is led by 543 years old Papa Smurf who is a good and powerful wizard. He keeps the Village peaceful and helps the Smurfs live in good harmony with nature. So, let’s take a look at who some of the Smurfs are:
Papa Smurf: As I mentioned above, Papa Smurf is the leader of the Smurfs. He is the one that everyone turns to when anything bad happens and he always brings safety in times of danger and crisis. Papa is the only Smurf who wears the colour red and you can always find him busy making magical spells and potions in his laboratory.
Lazy Smurf: Lazy isn’t too big of a help when it comes to doing any of the work or chores around Smurf Village since he is incredibly lazy. He has the ability to fall asleep anywhere and has to often be woken up by his fellow Smurfs.
Clumsy Smurf: Even though Clumsy Smurf gets hurt a lot, he is truly a gentle and kind Smurf. His feelings are also often hurt since none of the other Smurfs want him on their team or as a partner during competitions due to his clumsiness. He is known for his Southern accent and for always tripping and falling. He loves collecting rocks and his best friend is Brainy Smurf. He is known for his oversized hat and pants.
Harmony Smurf: Harmony Smurf is the musician of the Smurfs and he loves playing the trumpet. However, poor Harmony is usually asked to stop playing as soon as he starts. Instead of playing beautiful sounding music, he plays his trumpet off key and at random times which ends up annoying his fellow Smurfs. Besides the trumpet, he can play the lute, the trombone, the harp, and the harmonium but like the trumpet, they are also played off key.
Dreamy Smurf: Dreamy Smurf always has his head in the clouds dreaming of other places and other things. He is also known as “Astro Smurf” and he dreams of going on adventures that no other Smurf have ever gone on before.
Handy Smurf: Handy Smurf is very resourceful and always inventing new things. Some of his creations are the telesmurf (telephone), Weather-Smurfing Machine, and the Smurfmobile. The rest of the Smurfs depend on him and would not be able to fix anything if Handy Smurf wasn’t there. He is a bit more on the serious side and doesn’t like any of Jokey’s Jokes.
Brainy Smurf: Brainy Smurf is the least liked Smurf among all the Smurfs. He is a know it all and seems to be an expert on everything but he is usually always wrong. He is very arrogant, even more so though than Vanity Smurf. He is Papa Smurfs apprentice and assistant in Papa’s laboratory.
Reporter Smurf: Reporter Smurf is the news reporter for the Village. He interviews the other Smurfs in the Village for his newspaper. He likes to try to find controversial news which often gets him in trouble with the other Smurfs.
Tailor Smurf: The Smurf with style! He makes all the clothes for the Smurfs in the Village. He is never seen without a needle or a tape measure.
Farmer Smurf: Farmer Smurf is the Smurf who plants the crops and organizes the harvest. He is known for wearing a pair of overalls and a straw hat.
Painter Smurf: Painter Smurf is the artist of the Smurfs. He has a French accent and refers to his painting as his “master pizzas”.
Vanity Smurf: Vanity Smurf is constantly worried about his appearance. He always carries a mirror and is checking himself out all the time. He wears a flower in his cap and believes that he is the most beautiful Smurf in the world. His hobbies are looking at himself in the day, the evening, the night and keeping his complexion fresh. He is also described as effeminate.
Hefty Smurf: Hefty Smurf is the strongest Smurf in the Village and uses his strength to often help out the other Smurfs. He can usually be found lifting weights and exercising at his house that is full of weight lifting equipment. He is the only Smurf to spot a tattoo, his tattoo is of a red heart with an arrow through it.
Jokey Smurf: Jokey Smurf is a happy little Smurf but he has a mischievous side and loves to pull pranks on the other Smurfs. He also loves watching and laughing at the unlucky Smurf who falls for his jokes. However, he doesn’t like it if any of the other Smurf try to prank him. The prank he is most known for is the exploding gift box that he gives to an unsuspecting Smurf. All though sometimes his pranks annoy the Smurfs, they have actually saved them before from Gargamel and Azrael.
Poet Smurf: Poet Smurf is the poet of the Village. He is often seen with a parchment and quill in hand.
Grouchy Smurf: Grouchy Smurf is always in a bad mood and never without a miserable look on his face. He doesn’t talk a lot but when he does it’s only to say “I hate (whatever the person is talking about)”. No matter what any of the other Smurfs say or suggest, Grouchy will be against it. Even though he would never admit it, Grouchy has a soft spot for baby Smurf, Puppy, Papa Smurf, Smurfette and flowers.
Baker Smurf: Just as his name implies, Baker Smurf is the baker for the Village. He comes up with amazing dishes and sweets for the Smurfs but spends most of his time chasing Greedy Smurf away from them all. He is always in his apron and wearing his baker’s hat.
Greedy Smurf: Greedy Smurf loves food, especially the treats that Baker Smurf makes. He doesn’t care about anything other than food and as mentioned Baker Smurf is always having to chase him away from stealing all the treats he makes.
Smurfette: The lovely Smurfette is one of three of the Female Smurfs in the Village but she was the first. She was actually created by Gargamel to destroy the Smurfs and she was originally a brunette. Papa Smurfs magic changed her nature and also her hair colour to blonde.
Of course, these are not all the Smurfs in the Smurf Universe but the ones above are all Smurfs that were in the cartoon series minus a few.
Before I go, I do want to go over two more characters that play a big part in the Smurf’s world, Gargamel and Azrael.
Gargamel: Gargamel is the Smurfs biggest nemesis. He is an evil wizard who spends most of his time trying to either capture and eat the Smurfs or destroy them somehow. Gargamel is obsessed with the Smurfs and lives for the day that he will finally be rid of them.
Azrael: Azrael is Gargamel’s sidekick. He is a tough and mangy cat who only adds to the Smurfs problems when Gargamel is after them.
You can check out old episodes of the Smurfs cartoon on Prime video on Amazon if you have never had the chance to see them before or if you just want to remember the good old days. Thanks so much for reading and learning about how the Smurfs were created. Make sure you check out all the great articles here on The Game of Nerds.