Tag Archives: Franco Belgian

The Smurfette: The Review

The Smurfette by Peyo Yvan Delporte

Published by Papercutz

Women, psssh. Women.

Hey fellas, women are tempestuous, fickle, and nothing but trouble. You know this, I know this, and now our little blue buddies know this.

This delightfully sexist tome was written in 1966, and I don’t believe it made its way to The States -well, until now.  Like ‘The Black Smurf’ I believe this book might have been considered a little too hot for America’s delicate sensibilities.  That the big blue man in the sky that Papercutz is pumpin’ out the reprints like no one’s business.

Okay, so, like, where was I? Oh yes.

That nefarious (and possibly Jewish) Gargmel decided it was time to subvert The Smurfs the only way that would make sense, with a female Smurf. Of course he didn’t have a female Smurf handy, but thankfully, he had a hunk of magical clay available. So he made Smurfette, and brought her to life with a kooky spell of some sort.  Hmm, this could be the reason we didn’t see this on the shelves too often.

After creating this little monster (a woman) Gargamel unleashed her in the forest to be found by some blue chump. The blue chump that found her was Hefty. Needless to say she was doing what women do best: crying. Hefty took pity on this creature and took her to the Smurf Village. It takes no time at all before Smurfette, as she calls herself starts in on the SECOND thing women do best, and that’s nagging.  The Smurfs put up with this as well as they can, save Grouchy, and even throw a party in her honor.  Now, she thinks everything is about her and becomes even a bigger pain in the blue ass.

The next morning The Smurfs sober up enough to realize they got a problem on their hands. Even though The Smurfs hadn’t really been around women much, they devised a brilliant plan. The plan was to make her feel fat so she’d go away and possibly puke herself to death.

Papa Smurf caught wind of this devious act and was deeply, deeply ashamed of his children. Papa Smurf has been around the block a few times, so he knew the only way for his commune to fully except this outsider was to make her better looking. That he did. With some magic and better threads, Papa Smurf made Smurfette gorgeous.

Well, what do you know? Now all the Smurfs are laughing at her inane anecdotes and bending over backwards to do her trivial tasks for her.  Naturally, this still isn’t enough for her, so she begs Vanity to literally open the floodgate and flood the smurf village. This time Smurfette knows she went too far.  Smurfette explains her artificial nature in a Dear John letter and high tails it.  The Smurfs are a bit bummed, sure, but they quickly shift gears to rage and decide it’s time to settle Gargamel’s hash for this one with their most devious concoction ever: an ugly, clingy and codependent woman for Gargamel.

Haha! Wee!

This book gets my highest recommendation.

Get it here.


Franquin’s Dark Thoughts

Some things the Belgians will always be better at doing than us, like waffles and uh, more waffles. Oh, and cartooning.  The best cartoonist in the world seem to all come from that tiny, little European country. Today’s case in point:  André Franquin (January 3, 1924 – January 5, 1997) could be the finest draftsmen to ever dip his pen in the ‘bigfoot’ well.

Franquin cut his teeth on children’s comics,from a early age, first appearing in the pages of Spirou from the 40’s through the 60’s, drawing and scribing such hits as  Spirou et Fantasio and Gaston Lagaffe.

After Franquin’s second nervous breakdown (cartoonist are the neurotic types), he started work on his finest  and most personal strip yet, Idées Noires (aka “Dark Thoughts”). It’s a shame these strips haven’t been translated into English, or actually, the shame is that I don’t read a word of French.

Despite my lack of worldliness, I really connect with these strips, and if you read my blog, chances are, you will too.

Asterix Birthday and Spirou Down Under

I gotta confession to make to you, my dear reader(s). I steal and rob from much better cartoonists daily. Is this wrong? Possibly! But most of my thievery isn’t from my neighbors, it’s from those on foreign soil. That’s right, I am talking about comics from Belgium!

Growing up in the ATL, I didn’t see a lotta these Franco Belgian comics or, as they call them, “albums”. I seem to recall the first time I saw my main man Asterix was in a comic book shop in Nashville, and I was oddly intrigued by his bulbous nose, big feet and “smurf” like proportions. However, I had a boner for super heroes at the time. So I didn’t buy the seemingly expensive album; I prolly bought some horseshit put out by Marvel that, more likely than not, I threw away into the landfill to deservingly rot away.

Fast forward to my early 20’s. I “dated” a French girl (and by “dated”, I mean slept with), and she showed me the popular “Gaston” comic by Franquin.  My head fell off and rolled around the room during a rare time when we weren’t having sex. Where has this gorgeous cartooning been all my life? How do I find more? How do I keep banging this exchange student?  Well, after the smoke had settled, I had to make due on just finding more French language comics.

Sigh. Oh right, the reviews, let’s get started with the reviews.

Asterix & Obelix’s Birthday: The Golden Book
by A.Underzo

Holy crap! It’s Asterix’s 50th birthday? GET OUT! Sure, that’s 32 years past original writer Rene Goscinny’s death, but hey, we’re lucky Underzo is not only still alive, but still putting out work of any sort of quality. Hmm, the drawings are so good, in fact, one might wonder if it’s really the work of an 80-some odd year old man and not the work of anonymous assistants.

This album isn’t so much a story.  It’s a series of meta- vignettes, all celebrating the golden anniversary of Asterix in a rather cheeky way: using panels from its halcyon days, parodies of famous works of art and thinly guises modern references to Asterix popular culture status.

Probably the most noteworthy part of the book, I mean “album”, has the cast of Asterix aged 50 years after their first appearance. It kinda reminded me of the Warner Bros. short “The Old Grey Hare” with an aged Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Yeah, I always feel sad and depressed when I see cartoon characters looking their age. It makes me confront the mortality of the artist that worked on it, as well as my own. Thanks for bumming my mellow, Asterix!

Yeah, so Asterix & Obelix’s Birthday: The Golden Book is far from essential reading, and is merely a self-congratulatory pat-on-the-back; but after 50 years on the same character, I think Underzo earned it.

Spirou And Fantasio – Adventure Down Under

by Tome and Jaundry

First things first. I was a little alarmed to get the “double bird salute” by an Aboriginal native right there on the cover, but then I realized this album was originally printed in 1984, and that was before “shooting birds” was invented.

Despite the monumental popularity of these characters, not that many of these albums have been imported, much less translated. In fact, the only other time I’ve seen Spirou in English was the aforementioned Franquin’s masterpiece, Z Is For Zorglub, by Fantasy Flight back in 1995.  Based on the 1961 album Z Comme Zorglub, “Le Journal Du Spirou” just so happens to also be the magazine that Spirou and Fantasio writes for as a job. Yeah,that’s kinda nutty: to work for a magazine that’s named after you and shares your adventures in comic form.  Then again, so is the fact that Spirou is a journalist, yet he dresses as a bellhop. Basically, this fun bouncy story begins with Spirou & Fantasio at the airport coming back from an off-screen adventure in Bankok before Cellophane (another reporter from the esteemed Spirou Magazine) tells them the Count of Champignac (resident inventor) is down under and they need to come pronto and help him mine for some sort of treasure or another. After arriving in Australia, our heroes learned from some unscrupulous miners that The Count had died in a mining accident. Spirou, rejects this though, as he basically comes out and says that the Count is too much of a pussy to have been mining, and he wouldn’t know a hard-day of work in his ivory tower life. Spirou was really on to something and even convinced his chum Fantasio to help him dig up the grave to prove that the Count is alive and kicking (spoiler alert) he wasn’t dead.

This is exactly what I am looking for in comics. The plots adhere to a strange internal logic; the art is detailed and cartoony and filled with visual jokes. It takes a while to read. The threats and danger felt real, not patronizing. I can honestly say I don’t know how this book could have been better. Man, us Americans need to work harder!

I really hope this translation proves to be successful, and cinebook cranks them out at a more timely pace (the next one is slated for Oct.) I would love to see some Franquin translated too, one can only hope right? I dunno if Americans can buy into this “bigfoot” style of cartooning, especially with the trend of making funnybooks look “realistic” being all the rage. Surely there are more people like me waiting for more cartoony comics.