Thanks to our friends over at ABRAMS books for sending a review copy of their upcoming new book The World of Smurfs: A Celebration of Tiny Blue Proportions! Which so happens to be excellently written by Matt. Murray, the world’s only known Smurfologist!
Murray was President and First Executive director of New York’s Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, working on an exhibit entitled “Saturday Morning”, which examined not only the art but political, and social aspects of the shows in the exhibit. While setting up the show he came to the realization what some of us writers and readers of the Retroist already know…once a Smurf fan…always a Smurf fan. But Murray took it on himself to try and figure out what made the Smurfs so popular across the world.
Murray warmly relates his own personal experiences with the Smurfs in the Introduction, such as his maternal Grandmother watching the show so that not only would the two of them have something to discuss during their talks over the telephone but that she might be able to understand what words he was ‘Smurfing’.
Murray goes into detail of famed Smurf creator Pierre Culliford or as he was more commonly known throughout the word, Peyo. Murray takes time to educate the reader on Peyo’s childhood and early adult life, when the artist was desperately seeking to sell his cartoon strips to magazines. At this time in his life some other famous creations of Peyo like Johan and Pirlouit (Johan and Peewit as we know them in the United States) came into existence.
Which would lead to the creation of the Les Schtroumpfs or as they would later be known in America, the Smurfs!
The World of Smurfs book of course chronicles the global popularity of not only Peyo but his family as well as obviously that of his blue elflike wonders…that were only 3 apples high. One of the features in the book that I cannot heap enough praise on is the reproductions of animation cells, movie posters, the Smurf Village poster and original Les Schtroumpfs ephemera. For the most part you can take these items out of the book…including a sheet of Smurf stickers…that I’m having to resist applying to my laptop as I type this!
Murray also dives into the Red scare that I vaguely recall in my youth, yep, some people complained that the Smurfs were secretly sowing the seeds of Socialist behavior in the animated series. How Smurfing sad.
Of course Murray goes in depth with the upcoming Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation big budget Smurfs film starring Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, and Hank Azaria. There is some really neat looking production art for the Smurf village that will be seen in the movie, I particularly loved the Smurf blacksmith shop design.
In closing, do I think you should pick up this book when it hits store shelves in August? Absolutely! If you still smile at the thought of playing with a handful of those wonderful blue PVC Smurf figures you will not only find all the history of the Smurfs fascinating but I bet you’ll want to share the book with your family and friends.
The World of Smurfs: A Celebration of Tiny Blue Proportions is U.S.$24.95/Can. $27.95