Oct 1, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 584: Smurfs #1, 1982
In finding a copy of the cover image for this comic, I found out that Archie superstar Dan DeCarlo actually illustrated the longer stories in this issue. Peyo's pieces are the shorter, single-page gags. Neat.
I rearranged my comic collection a few months ago in order that I could more easily access the latter part of the alphabet (though, admittedly, the earlier part is now more difficult to access), so now I open up a drawer to the miscellaneous section of a letter and pull something out. The miscellaneous category is where all the very strange stuff is hiding, and when I looked today, these little, blue madmen leapt out at me. I've had this comic for a very, very long time. It's got a 1982 publication date, and I may well have had it that long, though it looks to be in pretty good shape for a comic I may have acquired at the tender age of 8.
The stories are good, and funny, and as light-hearted as the Smurfs are. Though there's a strange darkness to the stories, too. Gargamel's insistence on capturing and doing awful things to the Smurfs is played for laughs, but if he were to win, there'd be some genuine horror going on. Perhaps that should be saved for the inevitable gritty reboot.
The Peyo-created parts of the comic read so very differently from the longer stories - I often notice a marked difference between the style of East Asian comics and North American ones, but having examples of European and North American in such close proximity really highlights the differences between those traditions as well. Peyo's pieces use the Smurfs to tell short, amusing stories with almost the feel of a parable. There's something of the Zen koan to these tales, whereas the longer one really play out the adventure narrative. Very cool thing to see. I may well read the next two issues of the Marvel series, just to see if this continues.