The history of Peyo

Peyo, the very first smurf

A distant descendant of the pirate Robert Culliford, Peyo (whose real name was Pierre Culliford) was born in the Brussels commune of Schaerbeek, on June 25th 1928. No one knows if his first word was 'Schtroumpf'...

Peyo's passport

Peyo's passport

His real first name: Pierre
Last name: Culliford
Spoke: French (and a bit of Smurf)
Lived in: Brussels (Belgium) – the capital of waffles and Manneken Pis
Worked as: a comic artist
Biggest invention: The Smurfs
Is also the father of: Johan and Peewit, Poussy, a clumsy and mischievous cat; Steve Strong, a young boy with an incredible strength who loses this powers when he catches a cold.

The history of Peyo

Peyo's first job

The year is 1928 ... In New York the first 'talking' film is being projected and Walt Disney is drawing his first sketches of Mickey Mouse.

On June 25th of the same year a baby boy called Pierre Culliford was born in the outskirts of Brussels.

Due to his father's premature death, Peyo had to start earning a living at a young age. His first job was as a movie projectionist in the small 'Le Mirano' cinema. The medieval and science-fiction movies had a profound effect on him and inspired him throughout his career as an artist.

Fun fact: smoking was not allowed in the projection rooms so Peyo invented a technique to avoid getting caught: if his boss came into the room he would hide his lit cigarette in his mouth. An early sign of him being as mischievous as Jokey ...

The history of Peyo

Peyo drawing

Pre-Smurfs

For his next job he almost became a dentist's assistant (thank goodness he didn't). Luckily, he was hired by a cartoon studio instead where he met and worked with some of Europe's most influential comic book artists such as Franquin (Marsupilami) and Morris (Lucky Luke). It was during a cartoon called 'Le cadeau à la fée' (The gift to the Fairy) that little blue imps with flowers as hats made an appearance as they put together a large cake in a very 'smurfy' way! Unfortunately the studio closes down and Pierre Culliford decides to move into comics.

The history of Peyo

Peyo signature Smurfs - Johan and Peewit

Smurfly named Peyo

When he decided to become a full-time comic artist, Peyo, who was still signing his work with his full name, decided he needed a pen name. He found inspiration in his childhood nickname 'Pierrot' or, as one of his younger cousins (who couldn't pronounce the 'r') called him, 'Pe-yot'.

Captain Coky

After several unsuccessful attempts with pirate comics (Captain Coky), Peyo decided to draw what he really loved, stories based in the Middle Ages. He publishes strips in several dailies. He drew some Johan strips for the Belgian daily newspaper 'Le Soir' and then for 'Spirou' magazine.

Johan soon became a huge success and one of the magazine's main characters. The King's page, Johan, and his friend Peewit have fun and countless adventures defending the less-fortunate throughout the kingdom.

The history of Peyo

La flute a six Schtroumpfs

A Smurf is born!

For Johan and Peewit's ninth book of adventures, Peyo needed a group of imps to build a magic flute. He remembers a meal he had with his friend André Franquin (Marsupilami) when he'd wanted to ask Franquin to pass him the salt. But he couldn't remember the word so he says: "Pass me the ... uhm ... the smurf!". Franquin hands it over and answers: "Here's the smurf. Once you've smurfed with it you can smurf it back to me!" And so the name and language of the little imps were invented and on page 38 a small voice suddenly appears: "Can't you look where you smurf? You nearly smurfed me!" Then a blue skinned imp emerges from behind a rock . And that was the first time anyone ever saw a Smurf !

The history of Peyo

Le faux Schtroumpf

We want Smurf! We want Smurf!

The readers instantly fell in love with these mischievous and charming beings who love having fun, live in mushroom-shaped houses and speak a weird and wonderful language. The readers wanted to see them again in the following episodes.

The history of Peyo

Smurfandising in the 60's

Advertising departments rapidly saw the potential of the Smurf phenomenon and BP, Kellogg's, Côte d'Or and BN were some of the first companies to surf the incredible and increasingly popular Smurf wave.

But it is probably the PVC figurines of the little blue beings, first sold by Bully and then by Schleich, that had the most success.

Smurf toys

The history of Peyo

Smurf flute

The Magic Flute

The Smurfs were first seen on Belgian television in a series of short animated films, made by TVA Dupuis, the television animation studio of Charles Dupuis (the spiritual father of Robbedoes magazine). A couple of years later, in 1975, the Belgian Belvision studio produced a full-length feature based on 'The Magic Flute' which really triggered the Smurfs success. The movie was released in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

The history of Peyo

Click on the image above to see the video

What's on the Smurf tonight?

In 1981, The Smurfs debuted on the American NBC TV Channel, thanks to the famous cartoons produced by the Hanna-Barbera Studios, who also made 'Tom & Jerry' and 'The Flintstones'. But the success didn't stop there - the Smurfs were quickly aired around the world, even in countries that didn't even know the Smurfs comics! Even now, 30 years later, the Hanna-Barbera cartoons (the Smurfs star in 256 different episodes!) are still broadcast everyday on major TV channels worldwide.

The history of Peyo

Peyo toy

Planetary success

The success of the Smurfs became planetary in the 80's because of the cartoons. There are few regions left where their silhouettes are not recognised at first glance, but their name changes in every country: the Smurfs, die Schlümpfe, Los Pitufos, I Puffi, de Smurfen, les Schtroumpfs...

They are no longer limited to the page and the screen. The merchandising business really explodes. The Smurfs have become techno-music stars, as well as inspiring a steadily increasing collection of popular figurines, video games, toys...and many other derived products. On top of that, many companies made use of their image to promote their own products.

The history of Peyo

The Smurfs movie - trailer Click on the image above to see the video

Where the Smurf are we?

In August 2011, the Smurfs make their return to the big screen again, this time in 3D! The Smurfs Movie - Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation hybrid live-action and animated family comedy - in which the Smurfs get lost in present day New York City - was directed by Raja Gosnell and produced by Jordan Kerner. This event will introduce the beloved blue characters to a whole new generation of kids.

The history of Peyo

Smurf to the limit

Peyo left us on December 24, 1992 but the Smurfs have continued their many adventures and are today looking forward to a bright and even more exciting future, always ready to take on new challenges.

Meet the Smurfs

The village

Each Smurf has his own mushroom shaped house. Seen from the outside they all look the same, but once you go inside you really notice the Smurfs' different personalities.

The village

Each Smurf has his own mushroom shaped house. Seen from the outside they all look the same, but once you go inside you really notice the Smurfs' different personalities.

Johan and Peewit

Johan is a pageboy who defends widows and orphans. Peewit is Johan's friend. He rides a goat called Biquette and enjoys playing pranks on everyone. They're both good friends with the Smurfs.

Homnibus

Homnibus is a great magician and a very good friend of Papa Smurf. They spend long hours together talking about magic and alchemy.

Mother Nature

Mother Nature makes the different seasons come and go in Smurfland. When she's asleep, winter takes over and when she wakes up, so does nature.

The animals

The Smurfs are friends with all the animals (except for Azrael and the Howlibird of course). But some of them are particularly good friends, like the storks and the squirrels.

Gargamel's hut

Gargamel's hut is dangerous for the Smurfs. It's a gloomy and unhappy place where bats swoop around at night. There is nothing much there, except for an old long-dead tree.

Gargamel

Gargamel is a wicked sorcerer who wants to capture the Smurfs to extract their essence. That way he can create the Philosophal Stone which turns metal into gold.

Azrael

Azrael is Gargamel's cat. His main preoccupation is to catch Smurfs so that he can eat them. But luckily for the Smurfs, he's not much cleverer than his master.

The Howlibird

The Howlibird is a monstrous bird who wants to destroy the Smurf village by bombarding it with stones.

Bigmouth

Bigmouth is an ogre who is constantly hungry. Gargamel made him believe that Smurf soup is the most delicious soup ever and that's all he can think of now.

The Bzzz Fly

The Bzzz Fly is a very dangerous and aggressive black fly whose sting causes the Black Smurf illness. Only the pollen of the tuberous flower can heal a Black Smurf.

A view of the dam

The dam that the Smurfs built is really impressive. It holds back the water from the Smurf river that would otherwise flood the village.

The Great Bridge

The Great Bridge is one of the Smurfs' greatest accomplishments, it stretches over the river Smurf and allows them to travel safely to the opposite bank.

The Lake

The lake is where the Smurfs like to come and rest or to have fun. The Smurfs have to be extra careful when playing in the lake because the great pike can be unpredictable and very grumpy.

A basket full of berries

The Smurfs eat all sorts of fruits and berries that they pick in the forest. Their favorites are Smurfberries and blueberries.

A Smurf eating salsaparilla

The salsaparilla plant is an absolutely delicious treat for the Smurfs. They would do anything to pick some and have often travelled long distances to find some.

Cakes

The Smurfs just love cakes… who doesn't? And the ones that Cook Smurf bakes are particularly smurfilicious!

Two smurfs talking

The Smurfs speak 'smurf', their very own language. It's not that difficult to learn. You simply replace some words and verbs by 'smurf'. Just smurf it!

Astro Smurf wants to discover new worlds.

He spends all his time looking at the stars.

Astro Smurf wants to travel in a rocket with pedals.

His Smurf friends once dressed up as alien smurfs to make him believe he was on another planet.

Baby Smurf is a real cutie pie. All you want to do is hug him.

One night when the moon was blue, a stork brought Baby Smurf to the village.

He loves his teddy bear more than anything in the whole world.

Baby Smurf's blocks inspired Handy to invent a printing press for Reporter Smurf.

A black or purple Smurf is a Smurf who's caught a strange illness that makes him violent.

The Smurfs catch this illness when stung by the Bzzz Fly.

A normal Smurf catches the illness when he gets bitten on the tail by a black or purple Smurf.

Brainy Smurf takes everything very seriously. He annoys everyone by constantly nagging about everything.

His habit of bothering everyone all the time often gets him a smurf on the head with a mallet.

He loves talking Papa Smurf to the mouth and repeats things he's learnt over and over again.

Cook Smurf is the cook of the village. He always wears his white toque and apron.

He knows dozens of recipes by heart.

He bakes delicious cakes and biscuits. His house always smells like a birthday party!

Greedy is never far away and it only takes him a second to smurf a cake away.

Farmer Smurf grows all the vegetables for the Smurfs. He wears dark green overalls, wooden clogs, and a straw hat.

His biggest enemies are the many moles who chomp through his salads.

Farmer Smurf often complains about the weather. It's always too sunny or too rainy.

He doesn't bother much with village life. He prefers the company of his lettuces and vegetables.

Greedy's favorite hobby is eating. Every day he eats enough for four Smurfs.

Greedy constantly smurfs away the cakes that Cook Smurf bakes.

Cakes and other pastry are his favorite foods.

Doctor Smurf has already told him a hundred times that cakes are no good for him.

Grouchy Smurf never agrees with anyone or anything. He starts almost all his sentences with 'I hate ...'.

He only likes flowers and Baby Smurf, but he doesn't like people knowing this.

Originally he was as happy as any other Smurf. He only smurfed into a grumbler when he was stung by the Bzzz fly.

Handy Smurf fixes everything that's broken in the village. He smurfs amazing things with his 8 fingers (yep, Smurfs only have 8 fingers)!

Handy Smurf is also a brilliant inventor, constantly looking for new ideas.

He invented Clockwork Smurf and a machine that smurfs the weather.

Harmony just loves to play any instrument he can find, even when broken notes come out of it.

Harmony is such a terrible musician that the Smurfs run away every time Harmony picks up an instrument.

All he can get out of the instruments are deafening 'squeeeeks' and ear-wrenching 'hooonks'.

The turlusiphon is a magical instrument. When Harmony plays it, all the Smurfs fall into a deep sleep.

Hefty by name and hefty by nature! No matter how big or heavy the problem is, he solves it with his muscles.

He lives to lift weights. He is the strongest and fittest Smurf in the village.

He keeps fit by practicing just about every sport.

Jokey enjoys playing tricks on the other Smurfs. He always has a big smile on his face and gives everyone gifts.

His yellow- and red-wrapped presents explode when someone opens them.

Jokey can turn any situation into a joke.

King Smurf replaces Papa Smurf when he's on a trip.

He made the Smurfs build him a palace.

He locked Jokey up in prison.

Guards make sure that no Smurf enters the castle.

Lazy Smurf is always tired. His afternoon nap seems to last all day.

Lazy Smurf is capable of falling asleep anywhere, no matter what time it is.

The pillow goes where he goes! He refuses to put it down and is constantly sewing it back together.

The first thing Lazy Smurf thinks about when he wakes up in the morning is when to take his first nap of the day.

Painter is the Picasso of the bunch. He often wears a red jacket with a black tie.

He loves to paint colorful sunsets but, of course, his favorite model is Smurfette.

His brushes, colours and canvasses are his most treasured possessions.

Painter likes to make experimental paintings that no Smurf understands.

Red clothes and and a bushy white beard? That's Papa Smurf, the leader of the Smurfs.

Papa Smurf makes lots of potions. They come in handy when the Smurfs are caught by Gargamel.

Papa Smurf might be slightly older than you are… This year he celebrates his 546th smurfday.

Papa Smurf smurfs all sorts of wonderful spells and formulas.

You never see Poet Smurf without a quill and a parchment.

Sometimes he walks around for days smurfing for the perfect rhyme.

Most of his poems are about nature.

Smurfette is very girly. She loves wearing pretty clothes and likes the attention of the Smurfs.

All the Smurfs are madly in love with Smurfette. They're constantly surpassing each other in pleasing her.

Smurfette was originally created by Gargamel to cause trouble amongst the Smurfs. But luckily Papa Smurf transformed her into the charming Smurfette she is today.

Before Papa Smurf turned her into a classic beauty, Smurfette had messy black hair and scruffy clothes.

Vanity Smurf only seems to care about his appearance.

He spends most of his time smurfing himself in the mirror.

He often discusses the latest trends and fashions with Smurfette.

Wild Smurf got lost in the forest when he was a baby. He's barefoot and he wears clothes made of leaves.

Wild Smurf was raised by squirrels. That's why he sometimes acts like them.

He prefers to live in the forest, rather than in the village with the other Smurfs.

Brainy Smurf tries to teach him how to be a normal Smurf.

Send an e-card

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