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1st Smurfs 1958 (yes 1958) Spirou 1071/1072 Club
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303 posts in this topic

On 5/4/2022 at 3:01 AM, DenisColt said:

About your quest on the genesis of the smurfs

Hello everyone, I'm new as an active member of the forum, I'm French and I think can help you on historical points concerning the French-speaking comic strip, or bd franco-belge.

I have read the 16 pages on the origin of the smurfs and I must say that the investigation is fun to read. I myself spend my time doing that kind of investigations since I was a child, bravo!

You have said almost everything but I will try to give you a complete synthesis. 

First some informations on the historical back ground of comics in French. 

1-A (short) history of the Spirou newspaper and the golden age of comics in France from 1934 to 1944

Creation of Dupuis

In 1898, Jean Dupuis buys a press and becomes a printer, he only realizes works for others, he meets the success in his activity and can buy in 1911 a more modern press able to print newspapers. During the war years 1914-1918 Belgium is occupied by the Germans who requisition the machine. From 1918 he starts to print newspapers for the episcopate of Tournai, without success. But in the first part of the 20's he launches Bonnes soirées and Le Moustique which will be successful. He continues to publish in Flemish in the 30s other publications.

The golden age of the comic strip 

In 1934 the publication of the Mickey's newspaper on the model of the American Sunday Pages meets a phenomenal success, 200 000 copies. It was a period that comic strip collectors call the golden age with the publication of L'As, L'aventureux, Robinson, Hop-là, le journal de Toto, Aventures, Jumbo, Junior .... They are in tabloid format and publish mostly comic-strips bought in the USA through KFS. The same phenomenon takes place in Italy, and in other countries.









Creation of Spirou

Jean Dupuis wants his share of the cake and launches in 1938 the newspaper Spirou (which means mischievous) in Belgium.  Spirou is a bellboy whose comic strip is entrusted to a Frenchman named Robert Velter, known as Rob-Vel. The newspaper is distributed in Belgium and we find traces of distribution in the North of France, until Paris. But its quality was not as good as that of its competitors, who published Flash Gordon, Mandrake, Prince Valiant, etc. However, it introduced Superman in 1939, as well as Red Ryder, and it also published Tarzan for a time in the 1940s.


American strips in Spirou :






German invasion.

The arrival of the German invasion will cut off the publication of his newspapers. France was cut in two, the northern zone was under the authority of the German, the southern zone under the authority of a French government collaborating with the occupier, the Vichy regime headed by a hero of the First World War, Marshal Pétain. 

The German authorities forbid the publication of American comics, but in the southern zone, in Lyon, Marseille and Nice, some publications resume. During this period, from June 1940 to the liberation in 1944, new newspapers were born in the occupied zone, some of which supported the regime and were even pro-Nazi. This is the case of Le Téméraire. 



exemple of an anti semite strip in le Téméraire


fascination for myths is a classic of nazi culture


in Fanfan la Tulipe the subtitle is your newspaper little French man, thank, written and drawn by French men


In Belgium, Spirou was authorized to reappear and a young cartoonist named Joseph Gillain, better known as Jijé, took over the main hero. He is an essential figure in the history of the French comic strip. He will literally train all the authors of the Spirou newspaper who are considered as the inventors of the Franco-Belgian comic strip whose 1945-1965 will be the golden age. 

2-Liberation and beginning of the golden age of the Franco-Belgian comic strip

From 1946 the character of Spirou is entrusted to Franquin. Little by little, what is considered as the dream team of the genre Morris, Will, Peyo, Macherot, Remacle emerged. The competing newspaper bears the name of Tintin, a well-known hero who began his career as a supplement to a Belgian extreme right-wing newspaper Le XXème siècle in 1929. This newspaper comes out in 1946, it is more serious and more conservative than Spirou, it is aimed at a more "bourgeois" readership. In these pages a school is also formed with Jacobs, Martin, Graton, Cuvelier, more realistic, where the authors of Spirou are more influenced by the cartoon and humor.


Success of the press for children.

The comic strip is then in Europe the medium of the childhood, as in the USA and in the rest of the world. But the war will have consequences. In France, the resistance was composed of several movements organized around the internal and external resistance. Those who left to take refuge in England and of which General De Gaule was to be the great figure, and those of the interior where the communists were to take a large part.  All these movements were unified in order to drive out the German invader around an organization called the CNR (National Council of the Resistance).

The beginning of the cold war

To understand the situation, it is important to recall some facts. De Gaulle had to fight so that France would not be considered an occupied nation. French dollars were even printed in the United States and as the Allied troops advanced on the territory, bases were set up in France and in Europe. These bases remained after the war, under the aegis of the creation of NATO, some of which still exist. Quickly two blocks are created, West and East, it is the beginning of the cold war. In the middle Europe where the government of the USA fears more than anything the influence of the communist parties which realize between 20 and 40% in the elections in France, in Italy, in Greece... With the recent events in Ukraine we can see that these tensions still exist.

The France of the liberation and the press.

It is also necessary to remember the fact that the powerful resistance movements in France regrouping all the political tendencies participated greatly in the liberation. The most symbolic example is the liberation of Paris by the Parisian people, an old tradition of armed combat in this city. 
The economy was in its death throes, paper was scarce and the political organizations of the resistance shared it out according to their political influence. They all wanted to create press organs for the youth. Coq Hardi for the Gaullists, Coeurs Vaillants for the Catholics, Vaillant for the Communists... The so-called commercial press had little space but it was to develop again little by little. The pre-war publishers were granted authorizations as well as new publishers. For this it is imperative not to have collaborated or to have resisted.




Mistrust of American "cultural imperialism".

In the wake of the Allies, American culture arrived massively in Europe, chewing gum, Lucky Strike, Jazz, Hollywood films, Science Fiction, Thriller and, of course, comics! The walls of France were covered with "US go home" graffiti, and although the population was very friendly towards the soldiers, many of whom were to remain in France, and welcomed the popular culture of the United States, they were nonetheless wary of the Trusts, as they were then called. The Marshall Plan was opposed and seen as a feudalization of France. 

This propaganda movie made by the communist party at the time say it all 

In direct after war some Eisner, Kirby, Disney and other comics were published, it won't last long. 






The case of the comic strip

Everywhere in the post-war period, a questioning of youth is born. Between the fathers who do not return from the war, the children born in the embrace of the days of liberation and the catastrophic situation of the economy in Europe, a large movement of moralization will emerge. The comic strip will suffer the consequences. In 1949, the French parliament put in place a law that limited or even forbade American comics and all forms of violence. It also confines comics to children. A censorship commission was set up, equivalent to the comic book code authority, and the history of censorship began. Little by little it will die out, as the first groups of collectors composed of recognized intellectuals will work for the recognition of comics as art. But it will be necessary to wait for the beginning of the Sixties.

the law text


list of cases linked to juvenile delinquency in French press


from comics to gangsters kids, a flyer against American comics


under the strip, the corean war, a sport for those American soldiers


"BAD influence of American comic-book on French artists and publishers"



OK OK let's talk about the SCHTROUMPFS
Let's go back to Dupuis, the newspaper is saved from the ban because the one who takes care of all the editorial part since 1938 in the newspaper, Jean Doisy, is an anti-fascist and resistant activist (Hergé is publicly denounced as a fascist and collaborationist, he does a stay in prison).
In 1953 a young author of 25 years who signs Peyo, of his real name Pierre Culliford, makes his arrival in the newspaper with a series named Johan and Pirlouit whose 9th adventure is going to know the introduction of the smurfs who in front of their success are going to live their own adventures.

In the number 1070 the magician Homnibus indicates to the two heroes that in their quest for the enchanted flute they must meet the smurfs who live in the cursed country. Country where it is impossible to go, nevertheless he can try to transport them there by using his powers and hypnokinesis. Johan and Pirlouit fall asleep and wake up on a tree in an area where vegetation does not seem to grow anymore. Suddenly, hidden behind a stone, a being speaks to them! In the number 1071 we finally see this smurf who knows them and leads them to their leader Papa Smurf. Our heroes learn that the smurfs try to recover the flute and in the shade follow them since the beginning. On the cover of 1072 the smurfs appear. 

As some of you have understood the Spirou newspaper has then 3 simultaneous editions, however the authors are all French-speaking by birth. The Flemish version Robeddoes is a translation, as noticed thanks to the cover of 1071.

For a while the newspaper had offices in Paris, so there were two editions with differences, most of the time they were linked to the commercial services that sold advertising space to Belgian brands in Belgium and French brands in France. But there were also discrepancies in the publication of the comics, some appeared in France and not in Belgium, some were in color in one country and not in another, supplements to the newspaper were also present in one country and not in the other. 

France was the country where Dupuis invested the most, opening a bookstore in 1948, "la librairie des jeunes", then "librairie Dupuis" at 84 boulevard de Saint Germain.  The publishing house also adapted to both countries. This was still a comic book shop not that long ago. It was about 2000 square meters. So it can give you an idea of the consideration for comics in France since a long time.

The bindings and the albums.
The tradition of the French language newspapers is thus a weekly publication with one or two pages per series. These newspapers are afterwards collected in albums which are not unsold! For a very long time Dupuis keeps fixed quantities, adapting to the demand on the bindings. These bindings contain in the post-war period between 10 and 12 numbers. An unpublished cover is made, Franquin made most of them in the 50s and 60s. These bindings cost more than the purchase by number!  They are aimed at a richer population, where the book object is appreciated and they also allow a better conservation. Moreover, their edition is limited to a few thousand copies.
Collectors look for this before the numbers. Even today there are so many issues in circulation that few people put them on the internet and few booksellers buy them to resell. They are everywhere. 
More advanced collectors have long noticed that some unstapled supplements were not present in the binders and therefore looked for them. This is the case of the mini-stories.
Appearance of Spirou's mini-stories.
The prehistory wants that the number 418 where a supplement is stapled on the outside is somehow at the origin of the mini-stories.

here it is (more than rare)


But it is with the issue 1000 of the newspaper of June 13, 1957 that folding supplements appear. One is a comic strip, Spirou en l'an 2000, the other is an educational supplement that explains how the newspaper is made. 


the 2 supplements

As soon as 1959, in the number 1107 dated July 2, a mini inserted and not aggravated story is inserted : the black smurfs.  These stories are complete contrary to the publication in episode of the series of the newspaper.

In this non-stapled form there will be 11 mini stories. Of which another episode of the smurfs the thief of smurfs.
Then from 1960 to 1962 appear 4 other mini stories of the smurfs this time so stapled.

-The egg and the smurf for Easter
-The false smurf (for the issue of the summer vacations)


-The smurfs' hunger (around Christmas)
-The hundredth smurf

don't have the original of those with me sorry a part of my collection is at my mom's house :ohnoez:



but to be complete this issue as to have that other supplement


and in the Belgium version there is no mention of the Paris book store of course


Inside it's a leporello of  the albums covers


In the French version some Albums are not mentioned because they were forbidden in France.

-They all appear in special  issues, Christmas, easter ...
These mini-stories are not numbered

If you guys want complete issues of that you have to be careful ! Some have more than one supplement and they are not easy to find at all !

Main Mini-récits bibliothèque
Because at the same time from the number 1199 of April 6, 1961 begins a collection present in all the issues, these are numbered. They are in the central page of the newspaper. This will last 11 years so more than 500 mini-récits numbered. Then this system will be sometimes reused with the years. 

Back to the Smurfs
The Smurfs in front of their success know then the honor of the publications in the newspaper and in albums since 1963 and cartoons in the 70's.

Some of you questioned the fact that the albums regrouping the whole of a story are valued more than the newspapers.
This is due to differences in culture in the publishing world in Europe, particularly in France compared to the United States. 
There is a history of comics in France before 1934 and a long tradition of drawing in the press, if you like this topic I'll be happy to expand on it one day. 
In the history of the French comic strip, more than 250,000 newspapers have been published, most of them weekly or monthly, available at newsstands. The big publishers also publish albums available in bookshops. Some bookstores also sell press but no kiosques (French name for newsstands) sells books. 
These comic books are the ultimate collector's item. They had small print runs were very expensive. And are therefore rare. They could have the form of soft cover or hardback, sometimes there were two editions. To come back to Peyo and his Johan and Pirlouit series, the first two were soft covers and then from the 3rd album in France hardback, whereas they were still soft cover in Belgium until album 10, the war of the 7 fountains, in 1961. Then the albums were hardback in France and Belgium. 

Both editions were made at the same time, hardcovers are more expensive in a general way even if a mint soft cover can do high prices too.


Let me know if you like it !















Incredible discussion!  Thanks! 

Merci beaucoup!


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