In 1958, Pierre Culliford, better known as Peyo – a pen name he had coined after a cousin kept mispronouncing Pierrot, his French nickname – predicted that in “three years from now, no one will talk about them anymore.”
He meant a set of comic characters he had created, after he had forgotten the word for salt and had asked for “schtroumpf” instead.
What Culliford smurfed up was a magical village of blue creatures three apples tall and each with one distinct characteristic. They sing and dance, have parties and live a happy life under the guidance of Papa Smurf, their wise old leader.
The Smurfs made their first appearance in Spirou magazine in 1958, as secondary characters in a Johan and Peewit series, set in the Middle Ages.