Sunday, October 5, 2008

More than a little blue turning 50

Telegram Staff Writer

Most of us learned about the little blue people on TV.
The Smurfs, turning 50 this month, had their own show 1981-1990. Papa Smurf was the boss, Smurfette was the girl and Gargamel was the bad guy.
But the Hanna & Barbera cartoon studio wasn't where the cheery mushroom dwellers were born.
The Smurfs surfaced Oct. 23, 1958, as supporting characters in a cartoon strip called 'Johan and Peewit' by a Belgian artist named Pierre Culliford.
Always having 'gnome-like adventures,' the Smurfs - or the Schtroumpfs as Culliford called them - quickly became an entity of their own. Under the penname Peyo, Culliford authored several Smurf books.
As the stories circulated, the Smurfs captured an international audience.
The world's languages developed their own words for Smurf. In Spanish, a Smurf is a Pitufo; in Germany, they are Schlumpfs; the Nam Ching Ling are Smurfs in China; and a Smurf is called a Dardassim in Hebrew.
This was in the '60s and '70s when it seemed here a Smurf, there a Smurf, everywhere a Smurf Smurf. The cartoon was still a decade into the future; and the movie 'The Smurfs and the Magic Flute' didn't hit the silver screen until 1982.
These days, as they celebrate their 50th anniversary, the Smurfs aren't as popular as all things Harry Potter, but they're by no means an endangered species.

Reruns of the Smurf show are regularly available for viewing on cable cartoon networks, random episodes can be purchased on DVD - and the Smurfs are online with appropriately themed blogs, YouTube videos and eBay collection items.
Monday will surely be a Smurfy day, for that's when Warner Home Video will release The Smurfs: Season 1, Volume 2 on DVD.
In time to observe the Smurfs' 50th anniversary, the DVD will feature 20 uncut episodes from the second half of the series' premiere season.
Outfitted in super-Smurfy packaging, the two-disc set will cost $26.99.
The first volume of the anniversary edition was released in February.
'The release of the first Smurfs volume exceeded our expectations, and we know fans have anxiously been awaiting the release of this second volume,' said Amit Desai, WHV vice president of marketing. 'People want the Smurfs because they have such happy memories of watching the clever, imaginative cartoon. For them it was a delightful escape, which they are now sharing with the younger people in their lives. There is nothing on television like it today, and we are proud to bring the Smurfs to consumers.'
The Smurf DVD set to be released Monday will include some Smurfology 101 that explains the origin and creation of the characters.

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