Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Titled Smurferies

The latest collection of PapercutZ's Smurfs has been released, and it's been awhile since I complained about the last one, so they're due for another round of nit-picking. The 9th book The Return of the Smurfette is a mixture of short stories featuring the Smurfette in minor roles and one-page gags that were part of an album-length collection. Rather than focus on the translation issues, I'd rather focus on the titles for the one-page jokes.

When I saw the first set of Smurfette stories, I was dismayed to see that they left out the descriptive 'Smurf' titles above the comics. I found this strange because a single page joke was shown in a previous book (The Smurfs and the Howlibird), and THAT one had a title above it.























These scans are taken from Marvel's limited 3-issue comic run, back when they were still remotely interested in producing material aimed at children. Half of a typical issue were slimmed-down single-page jokes, while the other half was attempts at doing crude imitations as drawn by Dan Decarlo (yes, THAT Dan Decarlo). Somewhat appropriate for the man who worked on Homer the Happy Ghost. If only there were taller and leggier versions of the Smurfette, he might've stood a chance.

Dan Decarlo may have been a prolific cartoonist, but he was no Peyo. His attempts at the off-model Smurfs wouldn't even earn him a job for a ghost artist for Studio Peyo. To further add insult to injury, the cover page and the interior title panel were the same image, only reversed. If you've ever wondered why so many Manga artists were reluctant to release their works over unless they were left unflipped, you'll notice a certain artistic shift. Certain mistakes become glaringly obvious when they're mirrored.





















But the real crime was taking the original Smurf material and cutting them up. To make the comic more condensed, they moved some panels around, and in some cases, compressed them. As a result, a lot of the pacing and timing leading up to the finale was lost. It was as if Marvel thought their audience wouldn't be able to appreciate the European model of four layers of panels instead of the traditional three.























As an example of the Animated series toning down the violence, they left out Farmer Smurf kicking away the scarecrow, and Grumpy Smurf being cropped out of the admiring crowd.























I don't recommend reading the Marvel issues other than as a historical curiosity to see just how badly they mangled their attempts at mimicing the Smurf property. If you insist on indulging in visual sadomasochism, I suggest the oversized Smurfs Treasury, where you can enjoy all three issues with a wraparound cover that's more attractive than the interior. If you don't mind chopped up and pasted comics and bootleg-style drawings heavily scribbled from the plots of the TV series, this is the kind of product for you!























To further confound the issue, while the majority of the main feature of single-page jokes in the PapercutZ version had no titles, the remainder of non-Smurfette-related jokes had titles on them. In this case, Marvel put some more effort and imagination with these titles, though they didn't have to try too hard. One exception was this, which was titled "More Romeos and Smurfette", which was a blanket statement for a few more Smurfette-related comics.























Also, a minor tip - when the nameless Smurf is engaged in rising emphasis on getting dismal fortunes, the cries of dismay should become increasingly larger, not large and then medium in comparision.














































"There are none so Smurf as those who will not Smurf" In a rare case, I actually prefer the new translation to the older version.























This is another too literal translation. "Whatever is well-Concieved can be clearly explained." I much more prefer the simpler title here:























"Strike the Smurf while its still Smurf" The title for the below one comes from an unpopular Beetles song (but popular Newgrounds animated video), the Maxwell Edison Story.























Unlike the TV show that replaced taking a hammer to Brainy Smurf's head with him getting thrown out of the village whenever he got too annoying (which was often), it seems to have been left intact in this case. One wonders why this was left mostly intact, when it could've simply been skipped over, and what an innoculous kid who enjoyed the show must've thought when seeing the insufferable genius getting a well-deserved beatdown.

Also, if anybody knows the original blog that posted this example of an earlier version that allowed the presentation of a Black Smurf, let me know so I can give a proper link.























Oh, and this was retitled, There's no Smurfcounting For Taste, which is certainly better.

4 comments:

  1. I very much enjoyed reading your comparisons between the Papercutz/Marvel smurf comics. Regarding the Marvel Smurf comics, you mentioned Dan DeCarlo was the penciler, but does that mean he did the cover artwork AND the inside multi-page stories? And for ALL three Marvel issues (thus all six multi-page stories)?

    I only ask this because on the GCD website comics.org, it lists DeCarlo as a penciler for only issue #1. The other issues it lists Peyo as the penciler.

    To further complicate, on comicbookrealm.com, it lists DeCarlo as Cover Artist ONLY for all three books, and Peyo as penciler, script writer and inker for all three books.

    I'm an avid Smurf fan, and I've been trying for a long time to sort out the mystery of three Marvel Smurf comic multi-part questions:

    1. Who wrote each of the six multi-page stories (two in each issue)? And if they were not originally written specifically and only for Marvel, were they taken from Peyo's earlier French publications? From which albums?

    2. Were the 1-pg gags original Peyo drawings (with script and titles altered)? Can every 1-pg gag be found in a previously released French Smurf comic album, or were they spread out amongst all the French Smurf publications over the years? How many 1-pg gags were there in total?

    3. I noticed some stories or 1-pg gags did not have the 'Peyo' signature at the title/end panels, but some did. What determines if his stamp is present? Amount of alteration? Or, are they are all supposed to have the signature, but for whatever reason, some were forgotten?

    Any help on all this would be appreciated greatly!!! It was finding your blog recently that revealed new information, and based on the details of all your smurf blog articles, I'm thinking you would be my best source to finally get answers to my inquiries.

    I will also provide my e-mail address to you for reply, if answering everything on this blog comment section is not ideal. It's zackmak@hotmail.com

    Regards.

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  2. Thanks for the interest in Smurf trivia. Earlier, I would've recommended http://smurfology.blogspot.com/ as a source for Smurflore, but they've been revamping their site since October of last year, and it hasn't updated since. As far as I know, the artwork in the Marvel series was consistently terrible for all three issues. The quality varies between the longer stories and the one-page gags, so it's easier to tell which were the Americanized ones, and which were the originals. I'm not familiar enough with the American credits to know just how much of the art Dan Decarlo was responsible for. As I mentioned before, the art for the covers was practically identical to the first panel of the story inside.

    On a rather ironic note, one of the first stories in the Marvel books, SmurfPlane, was later remade into a (better) version in the 15th Smurf album. The latter also had a better ending than the American version, which had Gargamel attempting to go after the SmurfPlane with a flying machine of his own design, which collapsed upon first use.

    As for the one page gags, I think the Smurfette-related ones were in the original Smurf & the Egg book, but I KNOW that most of them were taken from the 8th Smurf book, Smurf Stories, and have been leaked out sporadically through the PaperCutz versions. Interestingly enough, the original cover for that book, which had Art Smurf fixing up a gloomy Smurf's dark thoughts by turning them into flowers seems to have been modified for a future book in the Previews catalogue so that the thought balloon now points towards Smurfette instead. As if it would be totally effeminate for a Smurf to like pretty flowers.

    If Peyo wasn't responsible for the overall artwork, but still had his signature, it's likely that they were done by Gos, who went on to do Le Scrameustache, a Cat-alien creature with a helmet that could temporarlily turn anyone to stone with it's raybeam. In later volumes, another alien race, the Galaxians, humanoid green creatures with red antennas were introduced, and they had a very Smurf-like cultural influence about them, down to elderly rulers and class-divided labour. (There were more females though, so it wasn't completely gender-specific)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrameustache

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    Replies
    1. I found the comic cover with the flower in question - it was for Free Comic Book day, which was why I couldn't find it on the Amazon website.

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  3. The last one, with Jokey painting himself black and posing as a Black Smurf, appeared in the American Random House comic book "Romeo And Smurfette" with Jokey painting himself green, which is the copy that I have before the Papercutz reprint changed it to purple.

    ReplyDelete