If you recently enjoyed Atlanta’s annual Comic Convention, then get ready — 80’s comic nostalgia is about to hit a new peak with the opening of the new 3D film version of The Smurfs on July 29. Stars of the film like Katy Perry were still in diapers when the Smurfs television series began airing in the United States, and they, like most Smurfs fans, may be unaware of the origins of the little blue creatures. A trip to The Belgian Comic Strip Center in Brussels provides some insight into the history of the Smurfs and other famous Belgian comic characters, such as Tintin.
Comics in Belgium are no laughing matter — the small country boasts more than 700 comic strip authors! Opened in 1989, the Comic Strip Center receives 200,000 visits per year and is conveniently located in the center of Brussels, less than ten minutes’ walk from the Grand Place, on Rue des Sables. This light, airy space offers a range of permanent and temporary exhibits, including artwork, models, and films showing famous comics from the past and present. The museums even hosts children’s birthday parties, complete with a treasure hunt!
The Smurfs have their own corner in the museum, with original drawings, models of the Smurf houses, and other tokens of the past. Created by Belgian comic artist Peyo in 1958, they were originally called Schtroumpfs, and an animated film titled Les Aventures des Schtroumpfs was released in Belgium in 1965. However, the three-apple-high critters didn’t arrive in the U.S. until the debut of the Saturday-morning cartoon in 1981. The Smurfs television show enjoyed a successful run until its cancellation in 1989, and it inspired a craze among collectors of the small Smurf figurines.
If you’d like to experience the Comic Strip Center firsthand, Delta Airlines has daily flights nonstop to Brussels from Atlanta. For Smurf fun closer to home, see Fandango for local showtimes for the film, which opens July 29.