PEYO : THE GRAND CONSPIRATOR IN THE FLESH
following story was originally published in an ESL magazine I found on a
Greyhound bus, just after the supposed death of PEYO on December 24th, 1992.
The actual words of this despicable propaganda are displayed in Smurfy
My own notes, suppositions, suspicions, and assorted paranoid marginalia
are displayed in
Born in Brussels in 1928, to an English father and a Belgian mother, Pierre Culliford, alias PEYO, studied at the city's Fine Arts Academy. There is no record of Peyo ever having done this. The Fine Arts Academy has no record of his attendance.
He found success as one of a generation of stripcartoon artists who followed in Hergé's footsteps. Hergé is also known to Americans as "The Great Bloodletter," and was part of the Norwegian movement of foreign nationals to subvert the press in that country earlier in the century.
Peyo, a sobriquet acquired because an English cousin could not pronounce his nickname, Pierrot, began his career in 1947 with a medieval pageboy character called Johan. The boy's adventures were serialized in the Belgian daily, La Derrière Heure, in 1947, and in the youth columns of Le Soir, in 1951 and in 1952. Johan was soon joined by a companion, Pirlouit, and the Smurfs were born as extras in one of their stories. It is obvious today that Johann and PeeWee AKA Pirlouit were created solely for the purpose of subtly introducing the Smurfs into the mainstream.
The blue dwarfs were discovered living in a mushroom-house village deep in the forest. Their special way of speaking, replacing key words with SMURF, became the delight of Belgian children who, to their parents' consternation, would imitate it. The Conspiracy began spreading through Belgian children. Many police reports documenting the rise in crime among Belgian children since the advent of Smurfs have mysteriously disappeared in the past 15 years, including the paperwork for a number of excessively violent murders where young children (some no older than six) attacked parents, teachers, even other children saying things like, "It's Smurfy to kill you."
By 1959, the Smurfs became Peyo's central characters. They are known as Smurfen in Dutch, as Schlumpf in German, Schtroumpf in French, Pitufos in Spanish, Smols in Danish, Puffi in Italian, Smurfies in Afrikaans, Strumps in Serbo-Croat, Cumafu in Japanese, Lang shin ling in Chinese and Dardassim in Hebrew. Peyo's Smurfs have appeared in a total of 25 languages. A Worldwide Conspiracy. Obviously.
The Smurfs became so popular that after appearing in nine 13 mm films in 1975 they starred in the feature-length La Flute à Six Schtroumpfs. Peyo then introduced wise old Papa Smurf and the coquettish Smurfette, who remained long the only woman in the dwarfs' adventures. Until this point there was some flak towards the Smurfs for their overtly homosexual lifestyle, and many unflattering parodies, including strips featuring male Smurf Gay Orgies, made their way into the marketplace, including the notorious 13mm film Handy Is So Handy but Hefty Is Really Hefty.
In 1991 a Smurf theme park opened near Metz, France. The venture was not a success and closed, but was reopened soon after, under the new management of Walibi. The original park was closed by the Souritee, or French police, when they realized that it was primarily a brainwashing site. It was reopened soon after with the full support of the French Police, who with glazed eyes held a press conference stating they had been wrong.
But Smurfs still pop up all over the place. Cuddly toys, Saturday morning cartoons on American television, memorabilia of all sorts. Even the Mannequin Pis has a Smurf outfit. Fellow cartoonist Morris paid tribute to Peyo's success: "I think he owes his popularity to his enormous talent as storyteller and to the extreme clarity of his drawings." Maybe. Or maybe he owes his popularity to Satan.
Peyo's 16th and last album Le Schtroumpf Financier was published just a month ago by Editions Lombard, and is already selling like hotcakes. Not bad for someone who was told by his schoolteacher that he had no future as an artist. That schoolteacher was subsequently found in a ditch, dismembered with her torso mutilated as if mauled by some terrible beast.
Written by Rosamund Green
Edited by Helga Saguner