The Smurftastic Beginnings Of The Smurfs

By | May 13, 2022

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The smurfs (Photo by RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Pierre Culliford, a Belgian cartoonist writing under the pen name Peyo created the Smurfs in 1958. His creations debuted in the newspaper Spirou. They started out as side characters in the medieval comic “The Flute with Six Holes” which was part of the comic series titled Johan et Pirlouit. In this series, Johan is a brave page, and Pirlouit, his midget sidekick is faithful, as well as boastful and cheating. “The Flute with Six Holes” was an adventure in which the characters found a magic flute and met the first “Schtroumpf,” the diminutive white-clothed, blue-skinned humanoid figure, as well as his peers. These creatures were accompanied by an elderly leader who donned red clothing and a white beard. After their first appearance, they had more adventures with Johan and Pirlouit. It didn’t take long for these tiny blue humanoids to become popular, so in 1969, they ended up with their own stories, and, of course, the merchandise wasn't far behind.

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The comic. Source: (Reddit).

The Origins Of Their Name

Peyo came up with the name “Schtroumpf” and the language of the Smurfs while sitting down to a meal with a friend. When Peyo forgot the word for “salt,” he asked his friend to pass the schtroumpf. His friend said “Here's the Schtroumpf—when you are done schtroumpfing, schtroumpf it back…” and the language pattern would stick with Peyo’s creations. The word was translated into Dutch as Smurf, and for the most part, that name has stuck through the translations into other languages. They were, however, named goblins in the book Dilly Duckling and the Goblins (1973), and in Spanish, they are the “Pitufos”