As I’ve blogged before here The Smurfs go all the way back to 1958. I would suspect most people are familiar with them via the 1980s cartoon or maybe even the more recent live action films but Smurf adventures were chronicled by their creator Peyo, a Belgian cartoonist, spinning off of his Johan et Pirlouit (stateside we know them as human side characters in The Smurfs – Johan & Peewit) comic in the pages of Spirou decades before.
Some issues of Spirou, which was an anthology of many comics, at this time also came with mini-comics within them. One of the earlier ones was this one:
Les Schtroumpfs noirs (The Black Smurfs) was released in 1958 (and later published in a collected album and adapted to the cartoon) and besides being a zombie-ish Smurf story it has I think the only time we’ve seen anything challenge Papa Smurf to the extent of knocking off his iconic hat.
I have to admit I never really considered crucial questions like what hairstyle would Papa Smurf be rocking? Do all the Smurfs share the same one? Does the the later appearance of Smurfette usher in a new sense of style to the Smurfs? Peyo had the answer, at least to the first question, almost from the beginning.
Papa Smurf went bald with his traditional strong facial hair. You will notice, as the title indicates, Papa Smurf is black after catching the boom (or BAOM! to be precise). In the animated and recent U.S. Smurf adaptations the ailment makes Smurfs purple, a switch presumably made to be less socially problematic, and is titled The Purple Smurfs.
This mini-comic is actually the first 100% Smurfs publication, not being part of an anthology.
As a comic and manga collector I love getting and seeing these early appearances of characters and properties and being able to experience them in their primal form, and to think that from this Belgian mini-comic, which would fit completely in the palm of a child’s hand would be adapted several decades later into a cartoon that would be part of a time where Smurfs were ubiquitous in a decade’s childhood in the United States.