• France's news in English

Paris exhibition honours the Smurfs' creator

AFP · 8 Jul 2011, 10:50

Published: 08 Jul 2011 12:24 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 Jul 2011 10:50 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The self-taught Belgian cartoonist behind the Smurfs is getting some long-awaited recognition with a first-ever retrospective of his work that opened in Paris on Thursday, some weeks after the publication of a controversial book by a French scholar.

"Everybody knows the Smurfs, a real international success, but no one knows their creator Pierre Culliford," alias Peyo, said Eric Leroy, curator of the show at the Arcurial gallery just off the Champs Elysees.

"We wanted to pay homage to the man, a real storyteller, full of humour."

The show -- running until August 30th -- features more than 200 original panels retained by Peyo's family after his death in 1992 at the age of 64, as well as photographs, albums and some personal objects.

This retrospective comes about a month after the publication of a book that infuriated some fans of the sock-topped comic book characters.

Antoine Bueno, who lectures at the high-brow Paris Institute of Political Studies, thought he was just having fun when he penned his 177-page analysis of the politics of Smurfland that's just been published in France.

"Smurfs society," writes Bueno by way of hypothesis in his work of spoof scholarship, "is an archetype of a totalitarian utopia" bearing the hallmarks of Stalinism and Nazism.

It's an orderly, harmonious and male-dominated world in which Smurfs eat together, work together, apparently do not own their own homes, and never bicker over money because there is none.

Not only is Papa Smurf "all-powerful and omniscient," writes Bueno, but his white beard gives him a curious resemblance to Josef Stalin or Karl Marx, with the bespectacled Brainy Smurf standing in for Leon Trotsky.

As the Smurfs' sworn enemy, scheming sorcerer Gargamel -- a hunch-backed misanthropic loner with a cat called Azrael -- represents a perennial capitalist threat, in Bueno's opinion.

"I am myself a child of the Smurfs, and I did not take it seriously when I compared Papa Smurf to Stalin," Bueno told AFP.

"I imagined that this analysis of the little world of Smurfs as a totalitarian utopia might amuse readers -- but I never expected the strong reactions that it provoked."

But it did.

"Idiot... fraud... dream-wrecker... opportunist," are some of the one-word broadsides hurled at Bueno on the Internet.

Hopefully, a Hollywood family comedy that's due out in 3D at the end of July will bring all Smurf-lovers back together, and have them discover how much Peyo enjoyed dreaming up stories but doubted his artistic talent.

"I draw badly, and that enables me to make a simple drawing," he once said.

Related links:

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Millionaire Riviera hotel boss kidnapped in broad daylight
The city of Nice where the millionaire was bundled into a car infront of shocked onlookers. Photo: AFP

The millionaire head of a luxury hotel in the French Riviera resort of Cannes was kidnapped in front of shocked onlookers in the middle of the day on Monday.

Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available