- Creator Of The Smurfs
Born in Brussels, 1928, of an English father and a Belgian mother,
Pierre Culliford, alias PEYO, studied at the city's Fine Arts
Academy. He found success as one of a generation of stripcartoon
artists who followed in Hergé's footsteps.
Peyo, a sobriquet acquired because an English cousin could not
pronounce his nickname, Pierrot, began his career in 1947 with
a medieval page-boy character called Johan. The boy's adventures
were serialized in the Belgian dailies, La Dernierè Heure,
in 1947, and in the youth columns of Le Soir, in 1951 and in
1952. Johan was soon joined by a companion, Pirlouit, and the
Smurfs were born as extras in one of their stories.
The blue dwarfs were discovered living in a mushroom-house village
deep in the forest. Their special way of talking, replacing
key words by SMURF, became the deligth of Belgian children who,
to their parents' consternation, would imitate it.
By 1959, the Smurfs became Peyo's central characters. They are
known in Dutch as Smurfen, as Schlumpf in Germany, Schtroumpf
in France, Pitufos in Spain, Smols in Danish, Puffi in Italy,
Smurfies in Afrikaans, Strumps in Serbo-Croat, Cumafu in Japanese,
Lang shin ling in Chinese and Dardassim in Hebrew. Peyo's Smurfs
have appeared in a total of 25 languages.
The Smurfs became so popular that after appearing in nine 13
mm films, in 1975 they starred in the feature-length La Flute
à Six Schtroumpfs. Peyo then introduced the wise old
Papa Smurf and the coquettish Smurfette, who remained long the
only woman in the dwarfs' adventures.
In 1991, a Smurf theme park opened near Metz, France. The venture
was not a succes, closed, and was then reopened again, under
the new management of Walibi. But Smurfs still pop up all over
the place. Cuddly toys, Saturday morning cartoons on American
television, memorabilia of all sorts. Even the Manneken Pis
has a Smurf outfit. Fellow cartoonist Morris paid tribute to
Peyo's success: "I think he owes his popularity to his
enormous talent as story-teller and to the extreme clarity of
Peyo's 16th and last album Le Schtroumpf Financier was published
just a month ago by Editions Lombard, and is already selling
like hotcakes. Not bad for someone who was told by his schoolteacher
that he had no future as an artist.
story was written by Rosamund Green, printed in Newsline Magazine
December 24th, 1992 (just after the death of PEYO).