Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fanholes Side Story: Smurfs Are Smurfy! part 2

You may ask yourself...why would a grown man read Smurf comics? Basically, I wanted to revisit a part of my childhood. I have to say, after reading several Smurf comics, I’m glad I did. It's nice to take a break from all the violence of mainstream comics. While I enjoy comics such as Captain America and Invincible, it's nice to not deal with any heavy subject matter. You’ll find no guts ripped out, Soviet spies or any of the like. These are comics I’d easily hand my nephews when they are old enough to read...just as my uncle gave me a pile of comics once.

You may remember an episode of the cartoon series called Astrosmurf. The cartoon is pretty much a direct adaptation of the comic. In the comic, Astrosmurf longs to Smurf to other planets and journey to the deepest reaches of space. He builds a spaceship, but is unable to lift off. He just can’t pedal fast enough. He becomes depressed and Papa Smurf quickly devises a solution.

He tells Astrosmurf they fixed the spaceship. Before he leaves Astrosmurf drinks a potion which puts him to sleep. The other Smurfs quickly disassemble the ship and begin a two day long trip to an extinct volcano and reassemble Astrosmurf’s ship. Astrosmurf wakes up on what he thinks is another planet. He discovers the Swoofs. Swoofs are simply Smurfs transformed by a potion Papa Smurf created. Astrosmurf wants to stay with the Swoofs and never return home. Not wanting to keep up the charade, Papa Smurf concocts several tests of courage. Despite his own shortcomings Astrosmurf manages to triumph. In the end, the Swoofs tell him that as a Swoof he must do all the chores, drink oil and other outrageous aspects of Swoof society...Astrosmurf quickly decides to return home. He is given another sleeping potion by the Swoofs while the ship is disassembled and reassembled again.

The cartoon version is only slightly different. It omits a few of the tests of courage and adds Gargamel and Azrael into the mix at the end. The Swoofs are red in the comic, but in the cartoon they are green.

In King Smurf a power struggle erupts in Smurf Village as Papa Smurf is away for a few days. After arguing about who should be in charge they decide to hold an election. One Smurf begins to realize he can get others to vote for him simply by making promises. Promises he does not intend to keep. He is elected and soon dons a gold outfit proclaiming himself King Smurf. He makes decrees, and warns offenders will be punished.

Eventually a group of rogue Smurfs break away and start their own village. A battle between the two sides erupts and in the end Papa Smurf returns and demands to know what has happened. King Smurf apologizes and all is forgiven. There is, of course, a moral here. We can see King Smurf as a parody for any politician. You may also be surprised to learn the Dutch title for this story was The Smurführer, a play on Führer. Keep in mind that this comic was written in a post World War II Europe.

When this story was made into an episode of the cartoon series, it was changed quite a bit. The role of King Smurf is played by Brainy Smurf. Brainy Smurf's Palace isn’t destroyed in the battle, but rather by a flood when the dam breaks. Here, Brainy learns that being a leader is more than simply making empty promises and giving orders.

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