Another big day on TCJ. First up, Cynthia Rose returns with an excellent and thorough look at the life and career of Peyo, best known as the creator of the Smurfs.
The Smurfs are global stars as big as Tintin. Like him, too, they're a merchandising miracle. Yet even Hergé told their author he should forget about doing comics. So how did a dreamer with no obvious talents end up fathering world-famous icons? That's the secret revealed in Peyo, currently on show in Paris.
The Smurfs were invented by Pierre "Peyo" Culliford (1928-1992). Though he was born outside Brussels, both his father and his grandfather were English. Their family tree had one exotic sprig – an 18th-century pirate by the name of Robert Culliford. But Pierre's own father, naturalized a Belgian, was thoroughly bourgeois. He installed his wife and three children in a spacious home, shared with not one but both sets of grandparents.
Pierre was the family's youngest son, initially known as "Pierrot." But an English cousin mispronounced this nickname into "Peyo." Peyo was a sociable child who loved sports and storytelling. Every Sunday, after lunch, he would stage a play for his family. These productions always had historic themes, inspired by Hergé's Tintin or the U.S. comics in Mickey and Robinson.
Yet there was something sinister in the Culliford home. Peyo's father was suffering from a mystery illness which, over several years, slowly paralysed him. One night when he was seven, Peyo was called to tell him goodbye. As the boy kissed his father's face, he realized it was cold.
He looked for solace in music, drawing, and the Boy Scouts. But while the Scout choir was happy to make him a soloist, Peyo's art teacher told him he had "no talent at all."
We also have the second day of Karl Stevens's tenure creating our Cartoonist's Diary. This installment features a terrible joke.
—News. This year's nominees for the Ignatz Award have been announced.
—Interviews & Profiles. For Smash Pages, Alex Dueben talks to Geof Darrow.
It’s nice to have an open horizon. I can do anything. Once I’ve committed myself, that fantasy goes away. I’m so easily distracted. I’d never seen Game of Thrones, but when my daughter was home from school this summer we started watching. I wanted to draw Game of Thrones. Then I saw John Wick and was like, I want to draw John Wick. Mad Max will be on and I want to draw Mad Max. That’s why I stay away from the Marvel movies. I’m afraid if I watch them I’ll want to draw Thor. If they’d let me. Once I start a comic I go, I wish I’d decided to do that John Wick idea instead. [laughs]
The most recent guest on the RiYL podcast is Ivan Brunetti.
—Reviews & Commentary. Over at Print, Michael Dooley writes about Hillary Chute's Why Comics? and reprints several passages from it.
“Comics shape time by arranging it in space on the page in panels, which are, essentially, boxes of time. … Panels are how the cartoonist gets to experiment with presenting time, with duration and motion. … McGuire multiplies and layers panels, each of which represents a different time frame, within the same space on every page, opening up dimensions of time. One page depicting 1949, which is about breaking as a general matter, features a spatialized smattering of verbal insults from the 1940s to the 1980s and also, terrifyingly, water pouring into the room’s window, suggesting a totally destructive natural disaster in the year 2111.”