The other European comic I read over the holiday weekend was “King Smurf,” a graphic novel by Belgian artist Peyo.
Like yesterday’s entry on “Asterix and Caesar’s Gift,” this one centered on an election.
The story unfolds as many Smurf stories do with Kenny Rogers Smurf — er, I mean Papa Smurf — in need of a special ingredient for his potion-making. So in an rather un-Papa Smurf like moment, he opts to set out on his own to retrieve said item.
Despite Brainy’s attempts to do otherwise, this leaves the Smurf village leaderless, and squabbles begin erupting over who should listen to who.
It’s ultimately decided that an election is needed to clear the matter up and “Smurf” ends up winning because he makes all sorts of election promises.
Shortly thereafter, Smurf dubs himself King Smurf, dons a golden hat and trousers, deputizes a village guard and arms his goons with pole axes.
The situation goes from bad to worse as other Smurfs decide to rebel against their new King and civil war breaks out.
All in all, it’s a fun book. If you’ve never seen a Smurf cartoon or read a Smurf comic book, you’re in for a real treat as the whole thing is written in Smurf-Speak.
An example from the future King Smurf’s campaign speech:
Like the Asterix comic I tried, “King Smurf” was just as funny and just as well drawn. The energy and character Peyo is able to infuse into his clone-like creations is amazing. You can see and hear the difference in each of the Smurfs and there’s a certain levity to these comics that is just hard to describe.
Peyo’s gentle humor is something that’s hard to find in American comics.
The Smurfs are certainly popular thanks to this type of story telling, as a search for “King Smurf” on the web wields a wide variety of merchandising based on this single coming, including a King Smurf Kubrick.
The story was also made into an episode of the Smurfs cartoons, this time with Brainy Smurf taking the royal role.
The Smurfs were an American phenomenon in the 1980s, but they had been a worldwide phenomenon through the 1960s and the 1970s.
That kind of says something for those little blue guys doesn’t it?