Smurfs (Volume 1): The Purple Smurfs TP, and Smurfs (Volume 2): The Smurfs and the Magic Flute TP Peyo and Yvan Delporte
I spent hours upon hours watching Smurfs on television on Saturday mornings growing up, but I had no idea that they'd been based on a popular Belgian comic by Peyo. Hell, until this archival project was announced, I hadn't known. But the comics are every bit as magical and entertaining as I remember from my childhood, and are still a lot of fun to read as an adult. The way Papercutz is reprinting them, the original story that introduces the smurfs is actually reprinted in the second volume they've released, in The Smurfs and the Magic Flute. That story appeared in a different comic that Peyo was working on, Johan and Peewit, and eventually they spun out into their own series, spawning toys and the television show that many have come to know and love. The smurfs don't even appear until well into the story, focusing mostly on the title characters of that series, but Peyo had pretty much worked out much of what the smurfs were going to be like, even very early on. In this first adventure with the little blue guys, he even makes fun of their language. They seem to throw the word "smurf" into sentences arbitrarily: "He smurfed his way over here," or "That's smurfy," or "You have to smurf the smurf with its right smurf." Peewit tries to make sense of it, but doesn't get very far in a pretty funny scene. This second volume was a single story, but the first volume contains three Smurf stories (as indicated by the number of smurf profiles at the top of the front cover).
I think it was a wise way to go, releasing the origin in the second volume, as the stories that were chosen for the first volume are more indicative of what the series is like. The main story, The Purple Smurfs, begins the book, and sees the smurfs affected by an epidemic, causing those bitten by infected smurfs to turn purple and go mad, hopping around saying "Gnap." The Flying Smurf and The Smurf and his Neighbors follow the initial story and are also fun comics, but don't quite measure up to that classic Purple Smurfs story. Most of the smurfs that appear in these stories are generic white-capped and white-panted blue-skinned guys, but there are a few exceptions, most notably Papa Smurf, who was introduced as such from the very beginning, in his red outfit, often seen scolding the other smurfs. But others like Brainy Smurf and Jokey Smurf are referred to by name, with the recognizable glasses on, and exploding gift-wrapped box in hand. The Smurfs comics are brightly colored, with plenty of fun to be had in Smurf Village or off on an adventure in the forest. The stories are often funny and flow easily from one panel to another fluidly. These are great books that I'm sure kids of all ages will enjoy, as well as anyone who grew up on the Saturday morning cartoon and recall them with fondness. So far, two volumes have been released in both softcover and hardcover formats, with a third volume, The Smurf King, on the way (featuring a certain villainous wizard and his pet cat).