Which are the most famous of all Franco-Belgian comic strip characters throughout the world?
Originally known as the Schtroumpfs and called the Puffi in Italy, the Sumafu in Japan and other names in different places, the Smurfs are internationally renowned thanks to the animated television series from the Hanna-Barbera studios in the eighties, and, more recently, with the feature films produced by Sony.
Inevitably, this fame has rather overshadowed the Smurfs’ creator, Pierre Culliford, known as Peyo. Born in Brussels in 1928, in the fifties this son of a British exchange broker became a mainstay of the SPIROU Magazine and created his unforgettable medieval series “Johan and Peewit” in which the Smurfs were born in 1958. The success of the little blue sprites was immediate and the Smurfs soon eclipsed Johan and Peyo’s other creations, “Benny Breakiron”, the little boy with Herculean strength, and “Pussycat”.
Overwhelmed with work, Peyo took on assistants and established a studio which continues to perpetuate his work today, almost 25 years after his death in 1992. Yvan Delporte, chief editor from the golden age of the SPIROU Magazine, said of Peyo: “Of all the comic strip authors I’ve met, Peyo was without question the best storyteller”. Pierre Culliford had two models: Hergé and Walt Disney. From the former he learned the purity of design and narrative effectiveness. From the second, the art of bringing his paper creations out of the context of albums to conquer films and merchandising.
Through many rare documents (original plates, sketches, photos, movies, period documents), the exhibition will offer a chronological journey to understand Peyo’s incredible success story and, above all, his exceptional mastery of comic strip art. The Fondation Folon has called on two curators to create this journey: José Grandmont, who worked for many years in the Peyo Studio, and Hugues Dayez, author of the biography “Peyo l’enchanteur”.
The panels in a comic strip are like a little theatre where I have the chance to animate my characters