Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Reader's Diary #1577- Peyo: The Smurfs Anthology

When I was a kid, I lived for Saturday morning cartoons and the Smurfs were easily among my favourites.While they're still obviously kicking around, they are certainly not critical darlings. And yet, I have often heard them in the same breath as Asterix and Tintin when people discuss the importance and legacy of European comics. Have the modern non-Peyo takes tarnished the Smurfs?

I'll say up front that computer animation does not capture Peyo's unique style. Something about his curvy lines, vibrant palette, and short/stubby characters is very welcoming. You want to be a Smurf and live in a Smurf village.

But some of the most annoying aspects of the Smurfs (to adults, anyway) were there from the beginning. Specifically, the Smurf-talk. Replacing every other word with Smurf wears itself thin fast (it gets a little more longevity when imagining it as the F-word, but that too loses its charm). I suppose kids like it. I was interested to note, however, that its usage is discussed and somewhat explained by a couple of human characters. I take it that to human ears, it all just sounds the same, but to Smurf ears there must be slight differences in pitch, inflection, and so on, that makes perfect sense.

The stories themselves are inconsistent in terms of quality, but even at their worst they're slapstick, adventure stories. At their best, there are clever satire. Again, I'm not sure how much the modern films do that. I haven't seen the latest, but the earlier two seemed to be but shallow marketing ploys.

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