Smurfs preparing big 50th birthday celebrations
[ 2008-01-17 15:44 ]
The Smurfs turn 50!
The little blue cartoon Smurfs are planning to celebrate their 50th birthday this year with a new TV series, books and a film, their human promoters said Monday.
Throughout 2008, 20 European cities will be flooded by the minute characters only "three apples high" as in the cartoons.
The Belgium cartoonist Pierre Culliford, best known by his pen name, "Peyo," first introduced the tiny blue figures in a comic strip in October 1958. He called them Schtroumpf and they became known worldwide as the Smurfs.
"The invasion will begin on January 20 and end in October," said Hendrick Coysman, head of the Belgian-based IMPS group which holds the rights to the cartoon characters and is controlled by Peyo's widow Nine and children Veronique and Thierry Culliford.
The sale of tens of thousands of small figurines will benefit the United Nations Children's Fund, Coysman said.
A much larger Smurf statue, decorated by an unnamed celebrity, will be auctioned off on October 23, the 50th birthday date, with the proceeds also going to the UN's children's fund.
The Smurfs are also to head back to the big screen with a co-production with the US Paramount film group, Coysman said.
In an apparent nod to gender parity, new female characters will also be introduced to the Smurf village to help out Schtroumpfette, the only female.
The cartoonist Peyo died in 1992 at age 64. Since then, his family and collaborators have continued his work "in the same spirit of humour and creativity," IMPS said in a statement.
Since their humble origins in the Belgian children's comic-strip magazine Spirou, the Smurfs have sold 25 million cartoon albums worldwide in 25 languages.
A testament of their enduring popularity: One million Smurf DVDs were sold last year alone, Coysman said.