The monotonous blue and white color scheme of the Smurf village gets broken up a bit in this fifteenth installment of Papercutz’s Smurfs reprints, which introduces a quartet of new characters to Smurf village, each of who eschew the white pants and hat ensemble that most Smurfs favor.
These new characters are The Smurflings, kid Smurfs younger than the adult Smurfs, but older than Baby Smurf. Smurf biology being what it is—the only female of their race was artificially created, after all—these young Smurfs come about much differently than human kids, and the first of the four stories collected here details their origins.
When Papa Smurf’s hourglass breaks, he sends a trio of Smurfs—Snappy, Natural and Slouchy—to Father Time’s in order to get a new one. There they accidentally stumble into a magical clock and find themselves de-aged, and decline Papa Smurf’s offer to restore them to normal. “Calm down! Calm down!” Slouchy Smurf says, “We think we’re just smurf like this.”
Their youth puts them at gentle odds with the grown-up Smurfs, as they each adopt their own style of dress, try to introduce slightly more swinging music than that of the Smurf orchestra Brainy conducts and makes them a little more daring and reckless—daring and reckless enough to steal one of Gargamel’s spells in order to create a second Smurfette, so Smurfette will finally have a girlfriend (That’s the pink cover-all wearing, red-haired tomboy smurfling Sassette).
The remainder of the collection includes the introduction of Puppy (the dog the Smurflings were always in the company of in the 1980s cartoon); story in which the Smurfs befriend some tiny, Smurf-sized little ghosts; and one in which Gargamel encounters a Booglooboo bird.
As with the previous volumes in the series, The Smurflings offers charming, accessible, character-driven adventures (with a very low threshold of previous knowledge needed to enjoy it), drawn by a cartoonist whose work is just as vital today as it was when originally published, due in large part to the timelessness of that work.
There remains room to quibble with specific choices the publisher might have made with the presentation, including the lettering and the small production size, which might not serve Peyo’s line-work as well as a larger format might, but it’s unlikely young readers will notice, let alone care. The size is, after all, perfectly appropriate for the hands and eyes of child readers, and even apropos of comics featuring such tiny protagonists.