The Purple Smurfs (original French title Les Schtroumpfs Noirs, literally The Black Smurfs) is the first album of the original French-language Smurfs comic series created by Belgian artist Peyo, first published in 1963.
Apart from the titular one, it contains two other stories: The Flying Smurf (Le Schtroumpf Volant) and The Smurfnapper (Le Voleur de Schtroumpfs).
The Black Smurfs
In a little mushroom village live the Smurfs, diminutive blue-skinned humanoid creatures. One day, one of them gets stung by a black fly that turns his skin jet black, drives him insane and reduces his vocabulary to the single word "gnap!" He bounces around and bites other Smurfs on their tail, which turns them into black Smurfs as well. Soon, almost everyone in the village has become a black Smurf, and Papa Smurf, the leader, tries to find a cure and cease the tail-biting epidemic. The cure is found in magnolia pollen, which is gathered in great quantity and loaded in fireplace bellows to be used as impromptu ranged weapons against contaminated Smurfs. The black Smurf has to inhale the pollen, which, after a loud and powerful sneeze, causes him to revert to his usual blue-skinned bonhomie. A great battle is fought outside the village, as the black, tail-biting horde closes in, threatening to destroy Smurf civilization for good.
The first black Smurf to have been transformed, meanwhile, recovers some semblance of ingenuity and paints himself blue to avoid being sprayed by the pollen-powered antidote. This allows him to ambush several normal Smurfs and reverse the outcome of the clash. In the end, only Papa Smurf still stands. He rushes to the lab to reload his bellow but is bitten while doing so. As he turns, he lets the large pollen jar fall into the fire, which causes the whole lab to explode. The resulting pollen cloud descends on the raving black Smurfs, reverting them to normality once and for all.
This story was later used as the basis for an episode of the Smurfs cartoon, though their skin color was changed from black to purple.
The Flying Smurf
A Smurf desperately wishes to be able to fly in the air, and tries all means to defy gravity and accomplish his dream, such as sticking feathers to his arms, building a hot-air balloon or eating yeast.
A reclusive sorcerer, Gargamel, wants to create the philosopher's stone. In his magic recipe book, he finds out that one of the ingredients for making it is a Smurf. He succeeds in catching a Smurf and locks him up in a cage. Papa Smurf and the others quickly go to rescue the imprisoned Smurf, but opening the cage proves a case of easier said than done.
Publication and other media
- Apparently due to the title and the nature of the black-skinned Smurfs, this comic issue was originally not translated for the racially-cautious English-speaking market, despite not characterizing 'black smurfs' as a race but rather as sufferers of a zombie-like condition (transmissible but luckily reversible). However, a retouched version of the comic—called "The Purple Smurfs"—was released in the US market by Papercutz in September 2010. Translated by Joe Johnson, this contains a different third story, called The Smurf and His Neighbors. The Smurfnapper was instead issued in a special preview comic published by Papercutz in July 2010.
- In the Hanna-Barbera animated cartoon, the black Smurfs were also made purple-skinned in order to eliminate any racist connotation. Also, Smurfette appears in the animated show version whereas she was nonexistent in the original story.
- This is the only Smurfs comic book where a Smurf is seen without a hat. Papa Smurf has his blown away by an explosion, revealing a bald head (which may simply be due to his old age).
- Gargamel makes his first appearance in The Smurfnapper, and his motive for stealing Smurfs is made clear here, although it was slightly inconsistent in the animated series.
- In another adventure called "The Egg and the Smurfs," it's revealed that Grouchy Smurf's moody and unsociable personality is because of the lasting effects of the fly that stung him. In the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Lazy Smurf is stung by the fly.