The Unbearable Lightness of Smurfing : Peyo – “The Smurfs”

I grew up calling them “Los Pitufos.” When Belgian cartoonist Peyo created them in the late ’50s, they were called “Les Schtroumpfs.” In Germany, they’re Schlumpf. In Italy, they’re Puffi. In Israel, they’re Ha-Dardasim. In Japan, they’re Sumafu. You probably know them as The Smurfs, and possibly hate them a little bit, depending on whether you refer to the movies with Katy Perry as Smurfette or the old Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

ABOVE: Smurfy smurfing smurfers!

I recently tried reading a few of the re-published Smurfs albums. The Smurfs were a lot flatter in character than I remembered. It’s essentially one anonymous guy talking to himself solipsistically in rhythms that make verbal wit an impossibility: in Smurfland, every line is reduced to the same smurfing smurf! If that sounds harsh, consider that when the comic wants to create “characters”, it takes the baseline Smurf and gives it exactly ONE trait. Therefore, the average Smurfs is practically trait-less! The Smurf design itself is cute enough to justify nearly 70 years of popularity; but the stories I read were real light-weights, aimed squarely at children, and I didn’t feel any of the adult pleasures that make something like “Asterix” an all-ages proposition.

RATING: COOL! for kids, SHRUG for adults



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