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Peyo

Cartoonist

Peyo is the pen-name of Pierre Culliford (1925-1992) who was born in Brussels. His father was English and his mother Belgian. “Peyo” was how one of his English cousins pronounced “Pierrot”, as he was known to his family. Peyo studied Art at the Académie royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and joined the CBA animation studio after graduating. Here he met the cartoonists André Franquin, Morris and Eddy Paape. His first strip cartoons appeared in the Belgian daily press in 1950: Johan (later Johan et Pirlouit) in La Dernière Heure and Poussy in Le Soir. It was in 1950 that a Johan et Pirlouit strip included the Schtroumpfs (Smurfs) for the first time. The editor of the cartoon magazine Le Journal du Spirou persuaded Peyo to produce some Smurf supplements in 1960 and they were hugely successful, both in their own albums and in a range of merchandised products, including the cult music album The Smurfs with Father Abraham (the Dutch musician Pierre Kartner) in 1977, and a series of television cartoons and a feature film by the American studio Hanna-Barbera in 1982. The demand for Smurf material led Peyo to set up a drawing studio in the early 1960s and he delegated almost all the design and drawing work to the studio’s members, retaining an involvement in the story planning. In the early 1980s, he set up Cartoon Création SA to run what had become a worldwide business. He died suddenly of a heart attack in 1992, but the Smurfs’ success continues.

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