Rare early Smurf drawings on sale in Paris

Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:08pm EDT
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By Anna Maria Jakubek

PARIS (Reuters) - Rare original drawings of the Smurfs, blue-skinned cartoon characters created by Belgian artist Peyo, are set to fetch up to 120,000 euros ($167,000) each on Saturday in the first auction of the late artist's work.

The highlight of a sale of 33 full-page Peyo comic strips at the Artcurial auction house on the Champs-Elysees in Paris will be a black-and-white sketch -- "The Smurfs and the Magic Flute."

It is the first time Peyo's family has sold original Smurf artwork, although some drawings given as gifts has been sold, and the sale is drawing interest from enthusiasts worldwide.

"It was a stroke of genius on Peyo's part to have made the Smurfs blue because everyone -- whether they're Chinese or European -- can identify with them," said Eric Leroy, Artcurial's comic expert said.

The Magic Flute drawing was the basis for the cover of Peyo's 1960 "Johan and Peewit" comic, a precursor of the Smurf series in which the diminutive figures, who sport white pants and pointy hats, first appeared before becoming stars in their own right.

Smurfs -- or "Schtroumpfs," as they are called in French -- went on to achieve worldwide fame, appearing in widely syndicated television cartoons, advertising spots and movies.

"The whole world knows the Smurfs from TV, and children think it's an animated show, but the original was a comic strip," said Leroy.

The auction, and a recent exhibition of more than 200 original comic sheets and personal items belonging to Peyo, follows this year's successful release of the 3D movie "The Smurfs," which has grossed more than half a million dollars.   Continued...