Lee takes a look at the first volume of the Smurfs from Papercutz. In doing so, he realizes that in thirty years, not much has changed.
Credits & Solicit Info:
THE SMURFS graphic novel #1
The Purple Smurfs
By Peyo and Delporte
When a strange purple fly bites one of the Smurfs, a full-on purple epidemic develops in the Smurf village! After being bit, a Smurf turns purple, all he can say is "GNAP!" and he goes berserk! The purple Smurf runs amok through the Smurf Village biting other Smurfs on their tails, causing them to turn purple and act crazy too! Soon there are more purple Smurfs than blue Smurfs in the village. It's up to Papa Smurf to find a cure and save Smurf Village before all the Smurfs lose their minds for good! Also featuring "The Flying Smurf," the inspiring tale of a Smurf with a dream - - to fly; and "The Smurf and His Neighbors," the story of a Smurf who moves out of the Smurf Village and into the forest.
61/2 x 9, 56 pages, full-color.
$5.99 PB, $10.99 HC
Way back in 1958, Peyo debuted the Smurfs in "Johan et Pirlouit." American fans know that story better as "The Smurfs and the Magic Flute." That story will make up the second volume of the new Smurf Graphic Novels from Papercutz. Why print the books in a different order? Well that first story doesn't even have the Smurfs in half the book. It was the first Smurf movie back in the day though, which is part of the reason we are seeing these tales being brought to a new generation – a new major live action and cgi movie is on the horizon.
1958. I didn't know the Smurfs until Hanna-Barbara brought them to Saturday morning television and two of the stories in this volume were very familiar because of that series. The eponymous story, "The Purple Smurfs", finds a contagious disease threatening the creators that are three apples high but still live in mushroom houses. Also included is "The Flying Smurf" and "The Smurf and His Neighbors."
The stories are full of the charm and smurfy language that I remember from my youth. They have fantastic art and will be a great thing to read with kids that are special to your heart. They are heartwarming and light with some life lessons to be learned along the way without all the preachiness of shows like Veggie Tales. It is the kind of entertainment we are often missing for kids today.
The fact that it is kid's entertainment brings up one of the most interesting aspects of the book. The first story, that one the volume is named after, has been altered from its original presentation. Oh, Joe Johnson brings the same flair to the story that he brings to the other two translations. The difference here is in following the lead of Hanna-Barbara when it adapted the same story once before. The original story is called "Les Schtroumpfs Noir" or "The Black Smurfs." That's right; when the Bzzz fly bit Smurfs they originally turned black not purple. The decision to change the script is to keep the book from being controversial, but it might just backfire.
How far does political correctness need to go? Tin-tin in the Congo was left out of the recent complete Tin-tin box set, even though Tin-tin in America, included in the set is just as upsetting in its portrayals of Native Americans as Congo is in its portrayal of Africans. These are historical documents. No one has tought to censor early Winsor McKay, meaning that Little Nemo in Slumberland is available in all its glory, even though it is a far more demeaning representation of blacks.
It's a disturbing trend that oversteps its bounds here. The book is censored not because it is racist, but because the possibility that someone might complain about it exists. Is this how far we have come in the home of free speech? We needlessly censor things because someone might take offense for no reason? There is nothing evil or bigoted about the story, Peyo just made the Smurfs turn black when they got bit by the fly. Do we really need to worry about what color we make things? Is racism still so prevalent that this is a concern? And when did it become a company's prerogative to decide how parents present things to their children?
I guess it is of some import to note that this is the first time this story has been published here. I guess that means that we are making some strides towards being a color blind society; but, as with many, things it shows not only how far we have come, but how far we have to go in race relations.
Review by: Lee Newman