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23 October 2010

On this day in history: First appearance of the Smurfs, 1958

In 1947, the Belgian comics artist Peyo (real name Pierre Culliford) started writing the Johan strip about a medieval royal servant. The stories first appeared in Le Dernière Heure and then in Le Soir newspaper between 1950 and 1952. In September 1952, Johan moved to the comics magazine Le Journal de Spirou.

Two years later a greedy dwarf joined Johan in his adventures and, to reflect this, the strip became known as Johan et Pirlouit (translated in English as Johan and Peewit). In the story published on 23rd October 1958, called La flûte à six trous ('The Six Hole Flute'), the two became allies with a group of small sky-blue creatures in Phrygian caps called Les Schtroumpfs, known in English as the Smurfs. The Smurfs proved so popular that they appeared in their own strip in the following year.

The Smurfs in Johan and Peewit

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3 comments:

Theresa Cahill said...

Holy cow I had no idea the Smurfs went back that far LOL! I remember sort of watching as a kid, but they were not one of my favorites. Incredible how time flies...

Greg said...

Always thought the smurfs were just a tv cartoon.

Interesting that they started in Belgium too..

Stepterix said...

Thank you both for the comments.

The smurfs first became popular here in the UK when they featured in a song by Father Abraham. A chain of petrol stations had a promotion where they gave away free smurfs with purchases. It was only much later that the TV show appeared.