The origin of the smurfs

The origin of the Smurfs started with the 9th volume “La Flûte à six ”of “Johan et Pirlouit”, which was a French comics series. Back then the Smurfs had the French name: “Les Schtroumpfs”. Soon it was translated into “the smurfs” and in many other languages.

Who created the smurfs?

Pierre Culliford, the creator of the smurfs, was also known for his pen name: “Peyo”. He created the first comics of the Smurfs for the Studio “Dupuis”. At first it was published in the magazine “Spirou”. Later on, Peyo created his own studio and he worked together with film publishers to create smurf movies.

Who was Pierre Culliford / Peyo?

Pierre Culliford was born on June 25th 1928. His father was an investor from England and his mother was Belgian. He loved to draw in all of his schoolbooks, sing in a quire and he was a boyscout. He actually said often that most people like to draw when they where young, he just refused to gife it up as an adult! His favorite lessons at school where history and gymnastics. He liked telling historical and fictional stories.

His father died in 1935, when he was only 7 years old. He failed at school and consequently he had to start working when he was 15. His first job was at a cinema. Later in 1945 he got himself a job at a cartoon studio, called CBA, where he had to help rework drawings after they where copied. Here he met  André Franquin for the first time, who would become his mentor.

After CBA went bankrupt, he kept in touch with André Franquin. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to get the job he wanted. In the mean time he started at the university to get an arts degree, to improve his drawing skills. He did quit after 3 months, because he wanted to draw comics.

Smurfs origin

Shortly after quiting his study, Pierre Culliford went to work for a marketing company, where he started to use his pen name: “Peyo” for signing his artwork. His younger nephew always pronounced his full name: “Pierrot” as “Peyo” and he decided that it was a nice pen name to use. Later on, in 1952, he was hired as cartoonist for “Spirou” with some help of André Franquin, his former colleague and mentor. The smurfs would be born shortly after at 23 october 1958 as secondary characters in the 9th album of the cartoon series: “Johan et Pirlouit”.

Charles Dupuis, the CEO of the studio, didn’t see anything in the smurfs. However, as always nobody can argue with succes. Consequently, the Smurfs would become it’s own cartoon in 1959. As a result, only a year later in 1960, Pierre Culliford starts his own studio.

After Pierre Culliford’s life

Pierre Culliford started to have health problems in the 80’s and died at December 24th  1992. Fortunately his children have continued to promote his work under the brandname “Peyo”. Additionally, they gave the green light for the production of multiple new Smurf movies and games as well as new merchandise. As a result the smurfs continue to live on in our minds and in Peyo’s remembrance.

When where the smurfs created?

  • 1958, 23 oktober: The first comic with Smurf characters in it was published in: “Johan et Pirlouit” (tranlated into:”Johan and Peewit”), which was published in the magazine “Spirou”. Since then 31 new comics where created. 16 By Pierre Culliford and 15 where created by the Belgian studio he was working for: Dupuis.
  • 1959: The Smurfs became it’s own series and as a result the first smurf figurines were sold.
  • 1960: Pierre Culliford, created his own studio to accommodate his fellow cartoonists: François Walthéry, Gos, and Marc Wasterlain. Together they would make a lot of Smurf comics and movies.
  • 1961: The first short smurfs movies where created.
  • 1965: The first long black-and-white movie called “Les adventures des Schtroumpfs” was published in Belgium. That is a bit funny, because one of the mayor characteristics about the Smurfs is that they are blue, which is invisible in black-and-white movies.
  • 1976: The smurfs and the magic flute was published after many years of work.
  • 1977 The smurf song was created by: “Pierre Kartner”. This Smurf song was a big succes resulting in a widespread brand recognition:
  • 1981-1989: The 9 season long TV- series was created.
  • 1982: First smurfs videogame: Smurf rescue in gargamel’s castle. Many more games would follow.
  • 2011: The smurfs 3D computer animated movie
  • 2013: The smurfs 2 3D computer animated movie
  • 2017: “The smurfs 3 The lost village” 3D computer animated movie

If you want to know more about the latest 3 smurf movies click on the link below:

What are the best Smurfs movies to watch?

Where did the word “Smurfs” come from?

The word “les Schtroumpfs” was created by mistake when Piere Culliford couldn’t recall the French word for salt during a dinner with his mentor and colleague cartoonist André franquin. As a result of this funny moment, the word was used for his new cartoon characters. Later on it was translated into the Dutch name: “de smurfen” and many languages would follow.

The origin of the Smurfs storyline

The Smurfs started as secondary characters in the comic: “Johan et Pirlouit” (9th album:” La Flûte à six ”). In summary, the main character Pirlouit gets a flute with 6 holes in it. Whoever hears the music from that flute, will be forced to dance until they become unconscious. It soon becomes a nice target for a local thief.

After a series of events involving the thief and a man called Homnibous, Pirlouit finds out who the makers of the flute are. Thereby the smurfs were introduced as the makers of that magical flute.  They soon became more popular as characters then the orginal cartoon itself.

Where were the smurfs created?

The smurfs was created in the city Brussels in Belgium in 1958 at the cartoon studio “Dupuis”. It was first published in the magazine “Spirou”.

Smurfs in different languages

At first the Smurfs where actually named in French as: “Les schtroumpfs”. It was translated into Dutch shortly after, where they were called: “de Smurfen”. Next it was translated into many other languages. As a consequence the name of the characters wouldn’t always be translated correctly. For example: the smurf with glasses was renamed into “brainy smurf”. Well at least he considers himself to be the smartest smurf, but that didn’t give him that name. In dutch it was translated into bril smurf or “brillie”, just like it was supposed to be in French: “Schtroumpf à Lunettes”, or the “smurf with glasses”.

Here are some Smurf names in different languages:

English word for “Les Schtroumpfs” : “The Smurfs”,

Names of best known Schtroumpfs characters in English: papa smurf, smurfette, brainy smurf, Jokey smurf, Gargamel, Azraël.

French word for smurfs: “Les Schtroumpfs”

Names of best known smurf characters in French: Grand schtroumpf, schtroumpfette, Schtroumpf à Lunettes, Schtroumpf Farceur, Gargamel, Azraël.

Dutch word for smurfs: “De Smurfen”,

Names of best known Smurfs characters:  grote smurf, smurfin, brilsmurf, lolsmurf, Gargamel, Azraël.

Spanish word for smurf: “Pitufos”

Names of best known smurf characters in Spanish: Papá Pitufo, Pitufina, Pitufo Genio, Pitufo Bromista, Garrasmiel, Azraël.

German word for smurf: “Die schlümpfe”,

Names of best known smurf characters in German: Papa schlumpf, Schlumpfine, schlaubi schlumpf, Jokey schlumpf, Gargamel, Azraël.

Turkish word for smurf: “Şirinler”,

Names of best known smurf characters in Turkishbaba Şirin, Şirine, Gözlüklü Şirin, Şakaci Şirin, Gargamel, Azman

Italian word for smurf: “i puffi”,

Names of best known smurf characters in Italian: Grande Puffo, Puffetta, Puffo Occhiali, Puffo Burlone, Gargamella, Azraël

Hindi word for smurf: स्मर्फ्स

A table of the smurf names in different languages:

English Smurfs Papa smurf Smurfette Brainy smurf Jokey smurf Gargamel Azraël
French Schtroumpfs Grand schtroumpf schtroumpfette Schtroumpf à Lunettes, Schtroumpf Farceur Gargamel Azraël
Dutch Smurfen Grote smurf Smurfin Brilsmurf Lolsmurf Gargamel Azraël
Spanish Pitufos Papá Pitufo Pitufina Pitufo Genio Pitufo Bromista Garrasmiel Azraël
German Schlümpfe Papa schlumpf Schlumpfine schlaubi schlumpf Jokey schlumpf Gargamel Azraël
Turkish Şirinler baba Şirin Şirine Gözlüklü Şirin Şakaci Şirin Gargamel Azman
Italiaans Puffi Grande Puffo Puffetta Puffo occhiali Puffo Burlone Gargamella Azraël
Hindi स्मर्फ्स

And ofcourse the Smurfs have been translated into many more languages.

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