Nine Culliford, the widow
of cartoonist Pierre "Peyo" Culliford who created the Smurfs, poses
after a news conference in Brussels Jan. 14, 2008.
The Smurfs are preparing to mount a series of "invasion" of
European cities as the little blue cartoon characters celebrate
their 50th birthday this year, organizers said on Monday.
Here is the "war plan": Smurfs will be deployed overnight to
each of the 20 targeted European cities. When people wake up, they
will discover suddenly several thousands of Smurfs in their
They can be anywhere: queuing at the post office, waiting at the
bus stop, playing around the fountain and at the schoolyard ...
They are all white statues in the well-known shape of the
Smurfs, three apples high.
Do not be too surprised. You can take one and paint it as you
imagine. If you are creative enough, you will be rewarded with a
very Smurfy gift.
The invasion drama is only part of the year-long celebration to
mark the 50th birthday of Smurfs, which was first introduced to the
public by late Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford, or Peyo by his
pen name, in October 1958.
After 50 years, the fictional group of small sky blue creatures,
who live somewhere in the woods, have become world known figures
and support a business valued at 4 billion U.S. dollars.
"I think that if he could see all that has been done with his
characters since his death and the success and interest that the
Smurfs still attract, he would be very, very, very, very happy and
very proud," Thierry Culliford, Peyo's son, told reporters at a
press conference in Brussels to kick off the year of
Children watch a cartoon of
the Smurfs at the start of a news conference in Brussels Jan. 14,
2008. It is the Smurfs' 50th anniversary this year.
In order to draw a worldwide attention, a lot of events have
been planned throughout all of Europe, ranging from exhibition
telling the real story of the Smurfs to new comic book collections
and a 3-D animation feature film expected to be released next year.
A set of commemorative stamps will also be issued.
At the press conference, organizers revealed that a Celebrity
Smurf, which is 10 times bigger than the usual one, has already
been decorated by an unnamed celebrity person. It will be sold at
an auction later this year, with the financial benefits going to
the United Nations to help promote children's rights and education
Born in this Belgian capital in 1928, Peyo was forced to earn a
living as a movie projectionist at the age of 15. Later he decided
to get into comics, but the beginning was hard.
The Smurfs first appeared as secondary characters in Peyo's 1958
comics series "Johan and Peewit" which proved to be a huge success,
and the first independent Smurf stories appeared one year later,
together with the first merchandising.
Nowadays, the success of the Smurfs has become planetary. There
are few regions left where their faces are not recognized at first
glance, but the name used to designate them changes every time,
like Smurf in English, Schlumpf in German and Lan-Jing-Ling in
Culliford, the son of cartoonist Pierre "Peyo" Culliford who
created the Smurfs, poses after a news conference in Brussels Jan.
Their domain is not limited to the page and the screen. The
Smurfs also inspired records sold by the million, a steadily
increasing collection of very popular figurines, video games,
various toys ... In all, a total of more than 3,000 derived
products and company messages made use of their image.
Although Peyo passed away in 1992, his family and coworkers have
continued his work, which becomes a shared childhood memory of one
generation after another.
Hendrik Coysman, head of Smurf rights holder IMPS, said after 50
years the Smurf village, with 101 Smurfs under the care of Papa
Smurf, will have some new members: more female Smurfs.
"There have been dramatic changes in socio-cultural values in
the past 20 to 25 years," Coysman said. "One of these is girl
"So, there will be a greater female presence in the Smurf
village and this will, of course, be a basis for new stories and
this will probably turn upside down certain traditional situations
within the village."
Good news for Smurfette, or Lan Meimei in Chinese, who will not
feel lonely any more.
(Xinhua News Agency January 16, 2008)