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The Black Smurfs (comic book)

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The Black Smurfs
The Black Smurfs
Original titleLes Schtroumpfs Noirs
StoryPeyo
ArtworkPeyo
ColoristPeyo
PublisherDupuis
Year of publication1963
Gallery
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The Black Smurfs (original French title Les Schtroumpfs Noirs) is the first album of the original French-language Smurfs comic series created by Belgian artist Peyo, first published in 1963.

Apart from the titular one (which became the basis for the cartoon show episode "The Purple Smurfs"), it contains two other stories: The Flying Smurf (Le Schtroumpf Volant) and The Smurfnapper (Le Voleur de Schtroumpfs).

Plots

The Black Smurfs

As most of the Smurfs gather to work on the bridge crossing the river in the forest, Papa Smurf spots one of them dozing off and sends him into the forest to cut some logs. As he works on chopping down his first tree, that Smurf gets stung by a black fly that turns his skin jet black, drives him insane and reduces his vocabulary to the single word "gnap!"

Papa Smurf becomes concerned when that Smurf fails to return and sends another Smurf, Brainy, to go find him. No sooner does Brainy find him, though, that he quickly returns to Papa Smurf, telling him that that Smurf has turned black. Papa Smurf becomes fearful, realizing that that Smurf has been infected by the black fly. Brainy spots the transformed Smurf hopping his way to the village. They chase after him and capture him, binding him in rope. After Papa Smurf tells some of his little Smurfs to take the captured black Smurf to his house, he tells the others that the last known case of this disease was when he was 108 years old, but now he can't remember what the cure was.

Change Into Black Smurf 2
The transformation into a Black Smurf

However, the captured black Smurf doesn't stay bound for long. After breaking his bonds, he spots a normal Smurf outside his house and bites his tail, turning that Smurf black as well. As he watches the two black Smurfs hop into the forest, Papa Smurf sees that he needs to find the antidote. He tells his little Smurfs not to disturb him as he spends the night working on a possible cure for the black Smurfs.

By morning, Papa Smurf send some Smurfs to capture one, though in the process another Smurf gets bitten while trying to capture one, getting caught in his own lasso. This results in some Smurfs capturing the new changed one. Papa Smurf tries his cures on the captive though it fails as it only causes him to faint. It was a mistake, however, to release him, as Papa Smurf sends a Smurf to carry him back to his house, but the Black Smurf wakes up and  escapes by biting the Smurf's tail who in turns infects a bystander.

Black Smurf Jumping 3

He and the new transformed Smurfs went back to the forest to escape capture. The next day none of the Smurfs want to get another Black Smurf, so Papa sends three Smurfs out to get one. They capture a Black Smurf as one of them acts as bait while the others knock it out with a rock. They return with it and Papa Smurf pours the antidote on the Black Smurf's head, which causes it to break its bonds. Papa Smurf then runs for cover as a bunch of Black Smurfs hops out of his laboratory and into the forest...all except for one which is knocked out and dragged back inside Papa Smurf's laboratory, though he escapes as well.

Having no other option, Papa Smurf and his remaining Smurfs leave to capture the black fly as fifteen of them (sixteen at the point during Papa Smurf's talk) are now infected. However, some of the Smurfs end up capturing other animals, while the infected keep adding to their numbers. Eventually Papa Smurf captures a black fly; however, he fails to get a cure from it, which causes problems. As time is running out each day, dozens of Smurfs are getting infected, until they are only about a handful left. Papa Smurf then decides to give it a tuberose flower to eat, which causes it to sneeze and turn blue. Realizing the cure is tuberose pollen, he and Brainy go out to test it on a Black Smurf and it works! They get all the flowers and when Papa asks if everyone is here, one Smurf replies there still one missing before they here the sound of him getting infected, before replying that everyone is here and they take the flowers home.

Meanwhile, the first Black Smurf and leader of the transformed Smurfs sneaks into the village and overhears this, so to avoid being sprayed with the antidote, he paints himself blue. After giving all the remaining Smurfs their bellows that contain the antidote, they prepare to battle the Black Smurfs. However, a swarm of all the infected Smurfs appear into the village and attack. It becomes a disaster, for if a Black Smurf was cured, he is immediately bitten again. Also the fake blue Smurf turns the favor over to his side by biting some of the Smurfs with bellows.

Blow Your Top 2
Hey, Papa, did you lose something?

This changes the playing field as this enables his transformed brethren to turn the last remaining Smurfs black -- all except for but Papa Smurf, who is now out of pollen. The village leader runs to his laboratory to get more of the antidote when the leader who painted himself blue ambushed him. This fails as he knocks over a lamp, causing a fire in Papa Smurf's house. While Papa Smurf is trying to douse the flames, the leader bites him. Knowing all hope is lost tells the reader this as the village leader turns black as well. Fortunately, a explosion occurs that also sprays the pollen in the air turning the Black Smurfs into their happy blue selves, ending the story -- though not before Jokey tries to fool the Smurfs into thinking that not all the black Smurfs have been dealt with!

The Flying Smurf

A Smurf desperately wishes to be able to fly in the air, and tries all means to defy gravity and accomplish his dream, such as sticking feathers to his arms, building a hot-air balloon or eating yeast. Eventually he becomes so light that he is unable to come back down, so the other Smurfs lasso him down to the ground and have him eat heavy stuff so that he won't be able to fly anymore.

The Smurfnapper

A reclusive sorcerer named Gargamel wants to create the Philosopher's Stone that turns base metals into gold, and his book says that one of the ingredients is a Smurf. After finding out what a Smurf is, and that his favorite food is sarsaparilla, he goes with his cat Azrael to install a trap in the woods.

The next day, two Smurfs go out into the forest to look for nuts. One of them ends up following a sign pointing to sarsaparilla, but instead it leads him into a trap that Gargamel catches him in. The other Smurf, Brainy, returns to the village to tell Papa Smurf about the situation, and all the Smurfs go to Gargamel's home to rescue the prisoner.

When Gargamel first goes out with Azrael to look for mandrake roots, the Smurfs enter and attempt to free the captured Smurf by cutting the rope that holds his cage to the ceiling. But before they can open the cage, Gargamel returns, so they go into hiding and watch as the wizard notices the cut rope and decides to replace it with a thick chain. He then goes to the attic to find the sulfur, which gives the Smurfs the next opportunity to free the captured Smurf. This time three Smurfs pull on a rope that lifts up a metal file to the cage so that the captured Smurf could file his way through the bars. But all too soon Gargamel returns and they go into hiding again, leaving the wizard wondering how a file and a rope got over there. Nevertheless he has all the ingredients put together, which leaves him waiting for the first ray of daylight to come, so he goes to sleep.

During the night, the Smurfs concentrate on a new task: getting the key from Gargamel so they could free the Smurf from his cage. However, they have to deal with Azrael first, so one of them tricks the cat into attacking him while standing near a window. Azrael charges while the Smurf dodges, causing the cat to jump out the window, and then he closes up the window before she can return inside.

Unfortunately, even with all the effort the Smurfs put into getting the key from Gargamel so they could free the captured Smurf, it is all for nothing, for the wizard wakes up at the break of dawn to discover the key mysteriously appearing in the lock, making him wonder if he's gone crazy. Nevertheless, he goes ahead with attempting to add the final ingredient for creating the Philosopher's Stone: the captured Smurf. It is then that Papa Smurf calls his other little Smurfs out from hiding to attack the wizard, overpowering him to the point where he has fallen unconscious. The Smurfs rejoice as they return home to their village, though Brainy on the way home lectures to the once-captured Smurf.

Gargamel wakes up and sees that the Smurfs are gone, so he decides to take his elixir that turns him into a giant to go after them, but after drinking he finds out that the Smurfs have switched the contents of the bottles so that he now appears Smurf-sized. As he now swears to get even with the Smurfs someday for what they have done, his cat Azrael appears behind him ready to play with her new "pet toy".

Publication and other media

Purple Smurfs Comic Book
The Papercutz English translation changes the black Smurfs to purple
  • Apparently due to the title and the nature of the black-skinned Smurfs, this comic issue was not until recently translated for the racially-cautious English-speaking market, despite not characterizing 'black Smurfs' as a race but rather as sufferers of a zombie-like condition (transmissible but luckily reversible). The English translation of the story published by Papercutz changes the black Smurfs to purple.
  • The main story saw three animated adaptations: the first was part of Les Aventures des Schtroumpfs made for Belgian TV in 1965, and the second was the episode "The Purple Smurfs" in the 1980s Smurfs cartoon series. In the latter case, the black Smurfs have been made purple-skinned in order to eliminate any racist connotation. Also, Smurfette appears in the animated version of "The Purple Smurfs" whereas she was nonexistent in the original story. The third adaptation was the original story itself created as an animated feature on a CD-ROM that was available only in European markets.
  • This is the only Smurfs comic book where a Smurf is seen without a hat. Papa Smurf has his blown away by an explosion, revealing a bald head.
  • Parts of "The Flying Smurf" were used in the cartoon episode version of "The Astro Smurf", while the idea of a Smurf floating in the air through digesting something was reused in the episode "Breakfast At Greedy's". The whole story itself was previously adapted for Les Aventures des Schtroumpfs, as was also "The Smurfnapper" under its original French title.
  • Gargamel makes his first appearance in The Smurfnapper, and his motive for stealing Smurfs is made clear here, although it was slightly inconsistent in the animated series. In the cartoon series, Gargamel's motive is revealed in the episode "Gargamel's Time Trip" where we see a younger Gargamel with his first encounter of the Smurfs.
  • In another adventure called "The Egg and the Smurfs," it's revealed that Grouchy Smurf's moody and unsociable personality is because of the lasting effects of the fly that stung him. In the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Lazy Smurf is stung by the fly, and also "The Smurfette" chronologically takes place before "The Purple Smurfs", thus removing this explanation for Grouchy's behavior. In the story book version of "The Black Smurfs", the first infected Smurf was identified as Lazy Smurf.
  • A one-page comic book gag has Jokey playing a joke on his fellow Smurfs by painting himself black and chasing after them in the same manner as a black Smurf. However, the joke backfires on Jokey when he realizes he used indelible paint on himself. The English translation that appears in the Smurfery section of the Random House comic book collection "Romeo And Smurfette" changes the color to green, and its recent reprint in Papercutz's The Return Of The Smurfette changes it to purple.

Notes

  • The main story was notable at the TV Tropes website for being "the original Zombie Apocalypse", with the black Smurfs representing zombies, that took place nine years before George Romero made the trope a standard with his horror film Night Of The Living Dead. However, the first true original "Zombie Apocalypse" was actually I Am Legend by Richard Matheson in 1954, which predates this story by several years.
  • While Papa Smurf does say to the effect that it's all over for the Smurfs as he is turned into a Black Smurf, the character of Wild Smurf, who is still living out in the forest at the time this story takes place, was not yet introduced.
  • "Gnap!" eventually becomes the normal sound made by any Smurf ready to bite someone with their teeth.

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