PNG images: The Smurfs
The Smurfs is a Belgian comic franchise centered on a fictional colony of small blue human-like creatures who live in mushroom-shaped houses in the forest. The Smurfs was first created and introduced as a series of comic characters by the Belgian comics artist Peyo (pen name of Pierre Culliford) in 1958, where they were known as Les Schtroumpfs. There are more than one hundred Smurf characters, and their names are based on adjectives that emphasize their characteristics, such as "Jokey Smurf", who likes to play practical jokes on his fellow smurfs. "Smurfette" was the first female Smurf to be introduced in the series. The Smurfs wear Phrygian caps, which came to represent freedom during the modern era.
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At the time he came up with the idea for the Smurfs, Peyo was the creator, artist, and writer of the Franco-Belgian comics series titled 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 Pirlouit (pronounced Peer-loo-ee) functions as his faithful, if boastful and cheating, midget sidekick. In 1958, Spirou magazine started to publish the Johan et 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 Homnibus. In this manner, they met a tiny, blue-skinned humanoid 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 full 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).
With the commercial success of the Smurfs came the merchandising empire of Smurf miniatures, models, games, and toys. Entire collecting clubs have devoted themselves to collecting PVC Smurfs and Smurf merchandise.
Schtroumpf is pronounced like the German word "Strumpf" meaning "sock". However, according to Peyo, original author of the original Smurfs comic strip, the original term and the accompanying language of the Smurfs came during a meal he was having with his colleague and friend André Franquin at the Belgian Coast. Having momentarily forgotten the word "salt", Peyo asked him (in French) to pass the schtroumpf. Franquin jokingly 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.