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The Smurfs

The Smurfs (Les Schtroumpfs in French) are a fictional race of small blue creatures who live in a forest somewhere in Europe. The Belgian cartoonist Peyo introduced Smurfs to the world, but English-speakers perhaps know them best through the animated television series from Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Smurfette, Vanity Smurf, and Brainy Smurf
Smurfette, Vanity Smurf, and Brainy Smurf


"Johan & Pirlouit"

Peyo wrote a Franco-Belgian comics serial in Le Journal de Spirou called "Johan & Pirlouit" (translated to English as Johan and Peewit). The setting lies in the Middle Ages in Europe. Johan serves as a brave young page to the king, and Peewit (pronounced Pee-Wee) functions as his faithful, if boastful and cheating, midget sidekick. Johan rides off to defend the meek on his trusty horse, while Peewit gallops sporadically behind on his goat, named Biquette. The pair feel driven by their duty to their king, and by the courage to defend the powerless.

On October 23, 1958, Peyo introduced a new set of characters to the "Johan & Pirlouit" story. This alone caused no great excitement, as the brave duo constantly encountered strange new people and places. This time, they had the mission of recovering a Magic Flute, which required some sorcery by the wizard Homnibus. And in this manner, they summoned a Schtroumpf.

"Schtroumpf" is an invented word. According to an interview with Peyo, the word came to him as he asked a friend for salt during lunch and, struggling to find the word that eluded him finally managed to say "passe-moi le schtroumpf" (pass me the salt). The word sounds like the German word "Strumpf" ("sock"), but this might be a coincidence. It would later be translated into nearly 30 languages. In some of those languages, Schtroumpf became the word "Smurf", see The Smurfs in other languages. The word Smurf was first used in Dutch, as the comics were simultaneously published in French (in Spirou magazine) and Dutch (in Robbedoes, the Dutch translation of the magazine).In any case, the tiny blue people proved a sudden hit, commercially speaking. They quickly moved into their own comic series, which became a tremendous success.

Animated Smurfs

In 1965, a black and white 90 minute animated film was made about the Smurfs, Les Aventures des Schtroumpfs. It received little attention, and not much is known about it.

However, in 1976, La Fl短te � six schtroumpfs (an adaptation of the original "Johan and Peewit" story) was released. Michel Legrand provided the musical score to the film.

In the late 1970s, Smurf merchandise, distributed exclusively by a California company, Wallace Berrie and Co., made its way to America and became a huge success. NBC Television executive Fred Silverman's daughter had a Smurf doll of her own, and Silverman thought that a series based on the Smurfs might make a good addition to his Saturday-morning lineup.

The Smurfs secured their place in North American pop culture in 1980, when the Saturday-morning cartoon, produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, finally debuted on NBC. The show became a major success for NBC, winning numerous Emmy awards, and spawning spin-off television specials on an almost yearly basis.

In 1983, an English version of La Fl短te � six schtroumpfs was produced, and titled The Smurfs and the Magic Flute. A few more long Smurf movies were made, most notably The Baby Smurf.

Smurf Figurines

Dupuis, editor of the Smurf comics, first produced Smurf figurines from 1959 on. The first one was a lifesize (i.e. 15 cm tall) normal Smurf, later followed by a few other lifesize Smurfs and a series of five small PVC figurines (papa, normal, golden, prisoner and angry). Those were only for sale in French and Dutch speaking countries. Truly mass produced Smurf collectible figurines, made of PVC, first appeared in 1965, made by the Schleich company. Introduced in Germany, the first three Smurf figurines were Normal Smurf, Gold Smurf and Convict Smurf (complete with black-and-white striped prisoner's outfit). In 1966 Spy Smurf, Angry Smurf and Drummer Smurf appeared. In 1969 five more Smurfs followed: Moon Smurf, Winter Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Guitar Smurf and Papa Smurf. In the seventies, Smurfs were also produced by rival German company Bully.

For a while advertisers used Smurfs to promote Renault, National Benzole and BP garages and ��in the United Kingdom and Australia at least ��the figurines were given away when petrol was purchased.

A scare story that claimed Smurf figurines used leaded paint circulated in Britain in the 1970s, leading Jonathan King to release a single, Lick a Smurp for Christmas (All Fall Down) under the name of Father Abraphart and the Smurps. This was a parody of the Smurf song by Father Abraham and the Smurfs, a worldwide hit single. The lead paint scare was brought about by a group of people in the marketing department of National Benzole who decided to outsource some smurf figurines to be made in Hong Kong instead of Europe, just 4 or 5 different lines. It was later discovered that these had been produced without adhering to the necessary quality standards so they were deemed possibly unsafe. Paint dots were then introduced on the feet of PVC figurines so that they could identify the ones with paint dots as having passed Quality Control tests and they were also given different colours according to the different countries they were produced in.

Many people do not realise that the Smurf figurines given away with the petrol promotions actually still continue in production today. The popularity of the Smurfs in countries such as Belgium and Germany has never waned, and Smurf collecting has become a growing hobby worldwide, with 400 different figures produced so far. New Smurf figures continue to appear: in fact, only in two years since 1969 (1991 and 1998) have no new smurfs entered the market. Schleich's new release of 2005 Smurfs sees a return to the "classic" Smurf characters, with new figurines of Papa, Smurfette, Grouchy, Brainy, Vanity, Jokey, Harmony and Baby Smurf.

Neither Convict Smurf nor Spy Smurf ever appeared in the animated television series, although both Spy Smurfs and convicted Smurfs played a minor role in the original second issue of the comic "Le Schtroumpfissime" ("King Smurf"). In this story Papa Smurf leaves the village, and a clever Smurf manages to gain power by winning an election through exaggerated election promises, and later turns into a dictator-type King. Jokey Smurf is arrested for having a bomb exploding in the megalomaniacal dictator Smurf's face, getting thrown in jail with the Sing-Sing type striped dress. Later the Spy Smurfs manage to liberate the political prisoner, while Brainy Smurf gets captured in the process. A running gag through the comic is that no-one is interested in liberating Brainy Smurf.

Satanic rumors

During 1983, rumors of the Smurfs' Satanic activities spread across Puerto Rico. Those who believed the theory claimed seeing Smurfs below plants in their houses, next to their beds, dressed as the devil, etc. As Telemundo Puerto Rico had just begun to telecast Smurfs programs that year, a possibility exists that a rival television channel started the rumors.

The rumors spread like wildfire through the religiously conservative Latin America, where people went so far as to claim that small, demon-like Smurfs propagated through their recorded albums and attacked those who would play their music. This was very much in tune with the prevalent belief of the 1980s of satanic propagation through recorded music, as many rock bands made open references to satanism in their work.

Shortly thereafter in the United States various conservative Christian groups also began to label the Smurfs as "Satanic" -- due to the positive light in which their activities portrayed the use of magic and of sorcery.


It is now argued by some that Peyo meant to spread communist ideas through Smurf cartoons. [1] S.M.U.R.F. is translated by supporters of this theory as "Socialist Men Under Red Father" or "Soviet Men Under Red Father". The Red Father in the cartoon is Papa Smurf who wears red hat and trousers. It is also noted that Papa Smurf might be representation of Karl Marx because of his similar looking beard. Other arguments brought to support this theory is that smurfs live in a village with rules similar to of a communist society including sharing of everything by everyone, absence of currency, same clothing (signifying equality), etc. Gargamel is said to represent capitalism with particular emphasis being made on his greediness. Of course, as Peyo used the term Schtroumpf, placing any meaning on the word Smurf is a bit strange.

Later Years

The Smurfs television show enjoyed continued success until 1990, when, after a decade of success, NBC cancelled it due to decreasing ratings.

The death of Peyo in his hometown of Brussels in late December 1992 effectively sealed the fate of the Smurfs. This did not stop the Smurfs comics, though, as Lombard Productions hired specialist cartoonists to imitate Peyo's style and draw more of the adventures.

With the commercial success of the Smurf empire came the merchandising empire of Smurf miniatures, Smurf models, Smurf games and Smurf toys. Entire collecting clubs devote themselves to collecting PVC toys.

Paramount Pictures has announced it plans to begin a trilogy of 3-D computer animated Smurfs films, the first to be released in 2008 through its Nickelodeon Films banner. The project had been in various stages of development since 2003. The first Smurf Movie is planned to coincide with the 50th anniversary of The Smurfs.

Smurf Universe

The Smurfs

The storylines tended to be simple tales of bold adventure. The cast had a simple structure as well: almost all the characters look essentially alike ��male, very short (just "three apples tall", a French expression), with blue skin, white trousers with a hole for their short tails, white hat, and some additional accessory that identifies each one's personality. (For instance, Handy Smurf wears overalls instead of the standard trousers). They can walk and run, but often move by skipping on both feet. They love to eat smilax leaves.

The male Smurfs almost never appear without their hats, which leaves a mystery amongst the fans as to whether they have hair or not. According to a canonical source, they are indeed bald: one episode of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon has Greedy Smurf removing his chef's hat to give Papa Smurf a pie he had concealed under it, revealing a bald head.

The Smurfs fulfill simple archetypes of everyday people: Lazy Smurf, Grouchy Smurf, Brainy Smurf, and so on. All Smurfs are said to be 100 years old, and there are normally 100 Smurfs. (This number increases as new Smurf characters appear.)

Specific Smurfs include:

* Papa Smurf, 542 years old, has a bushy white beard, red hat, and trousers. Papa Smurf, as the oldest and therefore the wisest of all Smurfs, officially functions as the leader of the village.
* Smurfette, a female Smurf with more delicate features than the male Smurfs, was chemically created by the sorcerer Gargamel as obnoxious and with stiff, black hair. She was transformed through a spell cast by Papa Smurf, wearing a white dress, white high heels and having long wavy blonde hair (surgery in the comics).
* Baby Smurf (male-gendered) joined the village later, brought in by a stork, which increased the number of smurfs to 101. (The number eventually went higher as more Smurfs appeared.)
* The Smurflings were introduced in the mid-1980s:
o 3 young boys (Slouchy, Snappy, and Nat). Originally, those kids were normal Smurfs from the village, but one day, they went inside a wizard's house under a request by Papa Smurf and then accidentally entered inside a magical grandfather clock. The clock, by a time spell, turned the three Smurfs into children.
o Sassette, a young girl Smurf. She is a redhead with braided hair and wears pink overalls. She was originally magically created like the Smurfette, but by the three kid Smurfs instead of by Gargamel. The three kid Smurfs felt sorry for Smurfette who was lonely as being the sole female in the village, so they broke into Gargamel's mansion and stole the magical recipe book that provided the origin of Smurfette's creation. They then created Sassette from it.
* Grandpa Smurf and Grandma Smurf. Grandpa Smurf, an older version of Papa Smurf, was introduced several years later and was soon followed with a female counterpart. Grandma and Grandpa are original to the animated series and do not appear in the original comics (except in the comic strips in the French "Schtroumpf" magazine).
* Clockwork Smurf, a wooden robot built by Handy Smurf. It is difficult to tell if Clockwork Smurf should count as part of the Smurf population, but considering that he shows real personality and feeling, it seems as if he could.

Smurf Language

Characteristic of Smurfy language is the frequent use of the word "smurf" and derivatives of it in a variety of meanings. The Smurfs replace enough nouns and verbs in everyday speech with smurf as to make their conversations barely understandable. It was implied a number of times that the Smurfs all understood each other due to subtle variations in intonation that Johan or PeeWit (or the viewers) could not detect.

So that the viewer is able to understand the Smurfs, only some words (or a portion of the word) will be 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 "smurftastic".

The Smurfs even made war among themselves about the use of the "smurf" word: whether to use it as a verb or as a noun. This story is considered as a parody on the taalstrijd (language war) between French and Dutch speaking communities, still present in Belgium.

Smurf Village

The Smurfs live secretive lives, in houses made from mushrooms or houses that just look like mushrooms (often made of stone), somewhere in the middle of a deep forest. Johan and Peewit would make visits, as well as a number of other forest natives.

List of Smurfs

Actor (fka: Timid), Baby, Barber, Bashful, Brainy (fka: Supersmurf; King Smurf), Clockwork, Clumsy, Cobbler, Dabbler, Dreamy (fka: Astrosmurf), Editor, Farmer, Flighty, Grandpa, Greedy (fka: Master Smurf), Grouchy, Handy, Harmony, Hefty, Jokey, Lazy, Marco, Miner, Nanny, Nat (aka Natural), Nosey, Painter, Papa, Poet, Pushover, Sassette, Sickly, Scaredy, Sloppy, Slouchy, Smurfette, Snappy, Somebody (fka Nobody), Sweepy, Tailor, Timber, Toughy, Tracker, Vanity, Weakling, Weepy, Wild, Wooley.

See Characters in the Smurfs.

Voices in the Hanna-Barbera series

* Don Messick --Papa Smurf/Azrael/Dreamy Smurf/Sleepy Smurf
* Paul Winchell - Gargamel/Baby Smurf/Nosey Smurf
* Lucille Bliss - Smurfette
* Barry Gordon - Brainy Smurf
* Frank Welker - Clockwork Smurf/Hefty Smurf/Peewit/Poet Smurf/Puppy
* William Callaway - Clumsy Smurf/Painter Smurf
* Alan Young - Miner Smurf/Farmer Smurf/Scaredy Smurf
* Hamilton Camp - Greedy Smurf/Harmony Smurf
* Michael Bell - Grouchy Smurf/Handy Smurf/Lazy Smurf/Johan
* June Foray - Jokey Smurf/Mother Nature
* Linda Gary -- Dame Barbara

The Smurfs in other languages

* Arabic: Sanafer 愕�悋�惘 (singular: Sanfur 愕���惘)
* Basque: Pottokiak (singular: pottoki), after the Basque pony race pottoka. Early editions used pitufoak, straight from Spanish.
* Catalan: Barrufets (singular: barrufet)
* Chinese: Lan jing ling (��仮��
* Croatian: �trumpfovi (singular: �trumpf)
* Czech: �moulov辿 (singular: �moula), name based on their light blue colour.
* Danish: Sm淡lferne (singular: en Sm淡lf)
* Dutch: Smurfen (singular: Smurf)
* Finnish: Smurffit (singular: Smurffi)
* French: Schtroumpfs (singular: Schtroumpf)
* German: Schl端mpfe (singular: Schlumpf)
* Greek: Stroumfakia 裡��凌�亮�略虜旅留 (singular: Stroumf/Stroumfaki 裡��凌�亮�/裡��凌�亮�略虜旅)
* Hebrew: Dardasim �廨�廖�� (singular: Dardas �廨�廖). The real meaning of the word is a small child
* Hungarian: T旦rp旦k (singular: T旦rp)
* Icelandic: Strumpar (singular: Strumpur)
* Italian: Puffi (singular: Puffo), the name has been reinvented from scratch because in Italian language the "schtroumpf" or (in Italian spelling strumpf) reminds speakers of the Italian word "stronzo", literally meaning 'piece of excrement'. Note that the dialect word 'strunz' is even closer to 'strumpf'. The fantasy name "Puffi" is derived from word "buffi" (singular: buffo, as in opera buffa) a word meaning at same time "funny" and "strange".
* Japanese: �鴻��若� (Sumaafu)
* Polish: Smerfy (singular: Smerf)
* Portuguese Estrumpfes (singular: Estrumpfe), (Brazil knows them as Smurfs)
* Romanian �trumfi (singular: �trumf)
* Slovak: �molkovia (singular: �molko)
* Slovenian: Smrkci (singular: Smrkec)
* Spanish: Pitufos (singular: Pitufo; later used as a slang word for 'local cop' in Spain, after their blue uniforms). In an early time, they were published by the magazine TBO under the name of tebe鱈tos.
* Swedish: Smurfer(na) (singular: smurf)
* Turkish: �irinler (singular: �irin)
* Serbian: �trumpfovi 丿���仄仗�仂于亳 (singular: �trumpf 丿���仄仗�)
* Korean:Seumeopeu �る┯��
More Smurf names

Similar creatures

* The Astrosniks were a similar fictional race with a space-based theme, made by figurine company Bully after they lost the license to the Smurfs.
* The Snorks were a similar, though less popular, fictional people that lived underwater and had snorkel-shaped protrusions on their heads.
* The Littl' Bits were a fictional race of tiny forest people that resemble Smurfs in their size and naming convention.
* The Nac Mac Feegle or Wee Free Men of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.


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