The Smurfs (French: Les Schtroumpfs) is a comic and television franchise centered on a group of small blue fictional creatures called Smurfs, created by and first introduced as a series of illustrated comic strips by the Belgian cartoonist Peyo (pen name of Pierre Culliford) on October 23, 1958. Culliford's initial comic first appeared in the Belgian magazine Spirou, and several decades later was adapted into an English language children's television series by Hanna-Barbera Productions, titled The Smurfs.
The original term schtroumpf and the accompanying language came during a meal Peyo was having with his colleague and friend André Franquin in which, having momentarily forgotten the word "salt" Peyo asked him (in French) to pass the schtroumpf. Franquin replied: "Here's the Schtroumpf — when you are done schtroumpfing, schtroumpf it back" and the two spent the rest of that weekend speaking in schtroumpf language. The name was later translated into Dutch as Smurf, which was adopted in English.
At the time, Peyo was the creator, artist and writer of the Franco-Belgian comics series entitled Johan et Pirlouit (translated to English as Johan and Peewit), set in Europe during the Middle Ages and including elements of sword-and-sorcery. Johan serves as a brave young page to the king, and Peewit (Pirlouit, pronounced Peer-loo-ee) functions as his faithful, if boastful and cheating, midget sidekick.
In 1958, Spirou magazine started to publish the Johan and Pirlouit story La Flûte à six trous ("The Flute with Six Holes"). The adventure involved them recovering a magic flute, which required some sorcery by the wizard Omnibus. In this manner they met a tiny, blue-skinned humanoid creature in white clothing called a "Schtroumpf", followed by his numerous peers who looked just like him, with an elderly leader who wore red clothing and had a white beard. Their first appearance was published in Spirou on October 23, 1958. The characters proved to be a huge success, and the first independent Smurf stories appeared in Spirou in 1959, together with the first merchandising. The Smurfs shared more adventures with Johan and Pirlouit, got their own series and all subsequent publications of the original story were retitled La Flûte à six Schtroumpfs (also the title of the movie version of the story).
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