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Sunday Smurfology: Matt. Murray on the color of Smurfs

Our weekend preview is something a little different today: Papercutz sent along Smurfologist Matt. Murray’s introduction to The Smurfs Anthology, and it addresses a very interesting question: The color of Smurfs. Specifically, the color of Smurfs in the first Smurf comic, The Purple Smurf, which was published in French as “The Black Smurf.” Why the color change? As Murray explains, the comic, in which Smurfs suffer a sort of zombie plague in which they turn black and go into a stupor, was published in Europe before the American civil rights movement, and the readers associated the color change with the bubonic plague. When it was released in the U.S. in the 1970s, the context had changed drastically, and the editors decided to change black to purple—which really keeps the story closer to its original intent, if you think about it. Anyway, here is Murray’s essay—click three times to enlarge it to readable size—along with the covers from the original and the updated version, and a sample of the comic. Enjoy!

Brigid Alverson About Brigid Alverson

Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.

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