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Smurfs first printed out in Chinese
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The Smurfs hit the half century mark this year. And they are celebrating all around the world. And don't worry about the numbers - the Smurfs don't look as if they've aged a bit. In fact they're looking so good, they're head for the movies. A computer-designed 3-D animation movie is on the works.

For Chinese fans, a long-awaited Chinese version of the cartoon is finally being published. So why did it take half a century? And can the tiny blue creatures stage a comeback, or has the Smurfs' career gone "code blue in China?"

No matter how well they sing, they share the same feeling. They are getting back the sense of childhood.

The Smurfs were popular in China, about 20 years ago.(Photo: CCTV.com)

The Smurfs were popular in China, about 20 years ago.(Photo: CCTV.com)

The Smurfs were popular in China, about 20 years ago. The animated television series first aired on China Central Television in 1986. The 45-episode cartoon series soon became a favourite among children here in China.

The Smurfs were popular in China, about 20 years ago.

The first adventures of the Smurfs were published in 1958.(Photo: CCTV.com)

The first adventures of the Smurfs were published in 1958. The creator was Belgian Pierre Culliford. He signed his books as Peyo. Peyo died in 1992 but a team of cartoonists continue to publish new Smurfs adventures.

Smurfs may only be as tall as three apples. Maybe they don't do much other than to forage or maybe mend the village dam. But they're doing all right. The Smurfs are a 4 billion dollar enterprise. Annual royalties for the Smurfs range from five to twelve million dollars. They perform around the world in 30 languages.

30 languages? But there is no simplified Chinese version. Not until now, 50 years after Smurfs were born. Veronique Culliford, the daughter of the creator, explained it's just the right moment. She runs the family business- IMPS. He brother however has inherited the artistic talent of his father, Peyo.

After an eight-year of negotiation and preparation the Smurfs' Chinese partner has printed 8 books. But readers who are keen to collect all the Smurfs stories have to wait for the full set. Another 24 books are still on the way. The next installment will be on shelves in 2010. Then Chinese readers can look forward to getting a new book every year.

Fans of yesteryear are grown up. Some are parents today. Will they buy into the Smurfs' movie for old time's sake? Or will they want to take their kids?

Today's children have so many more choices than their parents when it comes to what to read and see on television. So, can the Smurfs stand up tall amid a galaxy of younger fictional heroes? The readers will decide.

(CCTV July 3,2008)

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