It was 23rd October 1958 — 60 years ago that the world first encountered the Smurfs, in the Belgian comic magazine Spirou. Spirou was a weekly comic magazine that was produced out of Belgium. The comic stripe was called La Flute à six trous (The Flute with Six Holes). In the beginning the smurfs were given minor roles to the main characters of Johan and Peewit. Who would have thought that the smurfs would soon become one of the world’s most recognised characters.
When I first began collecting smurfs, I had no idea who were Johan and Peewit as I didn’t grow up reading the comics or watching the cartoon series on television. It wasn’t until I started to learn about the different smurf figurines that I began to understand the importance of Johan and Peewit.
Johan in the taller of the two human characters and has brown hair and carries a silver sword in his right hand. Peewit is the smaller blond hair boy playing his instrument.
Johan and Peewit were first made by Bully around 1975. These can be found with Bully © Peyo hand etched markings under their feet. They also have their name hand etched onto the side of their foot – Johan and Pirlouit.
Johan and Peewit were also sold by Schleich between 1980 to 1986. Between 1980 to 1984 Schleich had to continue use Bully markings on their figurines. Around 1984 Schleich started adding their own markings to Johan and Peewit – Schleich S © Peyo 1978. The year 1978 must be something to do when the mould was originally made. But I am not really sure!
Like the smurfs that were produced in the 1980’s different paint colours can be found. Johan’s vest for example can be found from mustard to green to orange. The skin colour can also vary. The Bully ones were produced with a softer skin coloured pvc material where as W.Berrie produced ones had a darker skin colour.
Later a movie was produced in 1976 based on the comic stripe – The Flute with Six Holes. When this movie was translated into English in 1979 instead of using their Belgian names they were given the names John and William. Luckily for us the figurines have always been referred to as Johan and Peewit.
Happy 60th Birthday Smurfs!!!
Keep on Smurfin