Peyo, the father of the Smurfs

A Smurf's Life

We can consider ourselves lucky! After Peyo left school in Brussels, he looked in the paper for a job. Two caught his eye: offers for a dental assistant and an illustrator. When he presented himself to the dentist, he was told he was just 15 minutes too late!

At the time, Belgium was a hothouse of comic strip artists. Peyo quickly found himself working with some of the most talented, amongst them characters such as his lifelong writing partner Yvan Delporte.

The big break

    After struggling for some time, he eventually got the break he deserved when he started working for “Le Journal de Spirou”. Johan and Peewit were amongst his most popular characters. But in 1958, the Smurfs made their first appearance and went on to become the world-famous characters we now know.

    Although most cartoon characters are known through their books before becoming TV characters, the opposite was true of the Smurfs in the US. The incredible success of the Smurf figurines led to them being adapted for television. Yet the story of their arrival at Hanna Barbera and the success with NBC is almost worthy of a film in itself. How many people know, for example, that even the multi-award-winning composer Michel Legrand has lent his voice to the Smurfs?

Smurfs around the world

    The success of the Smurfs is truly planetary. As everyone who has worked on the series recognises, the Smurfs are successful largely because of their basic appeal. And that appeal stretches right across the board - from mini-tales to pop songs and on to the exciting world of multimedia. Smurf material is now available on video, on CD-Rom and CD-i. The video games regularly top the sales charts. Theatre productions tour Europe. Yet each adaptation offers new challenges, which must be faced without the help of Peyo who died in 1992. But how will the world of the Smurfs adapt to that of the 21st century? If the past is anything to go by, the answer must be: smurfingly!


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