King Smurf (original French title: Le Schtroumpfissime) is the second comic book adventure of the Smurfs, and the name of the main fictional character who assumes power in the absence of Papa Smurf. The story was written and drawn by Peyo with Yvan Delporte as co-writer.
The adventure of King Smurf first started in Spirou magazine in 1964 as Le Schtroumpfissime (cf. illustrissimo — most illustrious — a term sometimes used to flatter European monarchs of the medieval and Renaissance period). While not the second story to appear in Spirou, it was the titular story to be published in book format.
In the original French book edition from 1965, the comic contains two stories, the titular one and Schtroumphonie en Ut, a story about the frustrated efforts of a Smurf to make some acceptable music and being tricked by Gargamel into playing an enchanted musical instrument which has a disastrous effect on his fellow Smurfs.
An English Canadian edition appeared in 1978 by Dupuis in collaboration with Granger Frères Limitée. A later edition was published by Random House. The English edition of the comic appeared in 1997, published by Hodder & Stoughton.
Other translations appeared in German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Danish, Polish, Catalan, Chinese and Swedish.
King Smurf is a regular Smurf whose actual name and position is never stated in the original adventure in which he is the titular main character.
When Papa Smurf left the village for a few weeks in order to get some Euphorbia leaves (which he needed to complete an herbal potion for undisclosed use), the Smurfs were left with no leader. Arguments and fights ensued when they all claimed the post and were only solved by the decision to have a vote, though at first they all announced that they were voting for themselves.
One particular (but unnamed) Smurf used demagogical tactics and made promises to almost all the Smurfs and they agreed to vote for him. He also put up posters, held a parade, made self-praising election speeches and offered rounds of raspberry juice. Soon, the only other candidate was Brainy Smurf who, as usual, simply claimed that he was the only suitable Smurf since (according to himself only) "Papa Smurf always said so". This arrogance and constant lecturing actually put all the other Smurfs off him.
The Smurf thus won 98% of the votes — the other two going to Brainy Smurf, a brainy guy, who was supported by himself, and Clumsy Smurf: the winning Smurf had told him to vote for Brainy Smurf, expecting him to get it wrong when it came to the actual vote.
The winning Smurf then proceeded to put on golden-coloured clothes and asked the others to refer to him as "King Smurf". The Smurfs laughed off his pretence, something he himself did not take with amusement. Instead he resolved to teach them their place and became authoritarian. The Smurfs began to despise him as he became corrupted by power: King Smurf imposed a repressive regime and installed an armed troop of guards led by Hefty Smurf who punished all opposition. He forced the Smurfs into building him a palace and wore them out. When one of Jokey's presents exploded on King Smurf, he ordered Jokey imprisoned as a warning.
Ironically the only one to show him any real support was Brainy Smurf but, being the sort that goes whichever way the wind blows, he later joined a resistance movement. The rebels (joined by an escaped Jokey Smurf) based themselves in the forest, insulting and provoking King Smurf from a distance. By offering the other Smurfs gold medals, King Smurf managed to mount an expedition into the forest to confront the rebellion, but it was a failure, with the rebels simply getting more recruits in the process.
To prevent any more defections, King Smurf had the village surrounded by a wooden wall. When he refused to abdicate, the rebels attacked the village. King Smurf's troops fought back by pelting them with tomatoes.
The rebels eventually broke through the wooden wall and the resulting full-scale battle carried on inside the village, causing widespread destruction. During the fight, a rebel took explosives from Papa Smurf's laboratory and blew up King Smurf's castle. King Smurf was left helpless with only his guards to support him. He still defiantly refused to stand down and the final fight was about to start when Papa Smurf returned from his journey and demanded to know what was going on.
The sudden return of paternal authority brought an immediate end to the battle and the embarrassed Smurfs had to explain themselves to Papa Smurf. He was very angry with them because they "behaved like humans" and mostly put the blame on King Smurf. Extremely remorseful, ex-King Smurf simply announced his abdication and returned to his old home, took a bucket and broom and said he would clean up all the damage the village had suffered. The other Smurfs felt sorry for him and offered their help, claiming it was also their fault, and that they still liked him after all. Ex-King Smurf was touched by this and so was Papa Smurf who forgave them all.
King Smurf's outfit was then used for a scarecrow.
Smurphony in C
An unnamed Smurf is rejected from the village orchestra since he plays badly every instrument (even the triangle!). He meets a strange fairy who gives him a magic instrument, the "turlusiphon", which always plays well. However, when the Smurf plays the turlusiphon to the other smurfs, they fall asleep. The Smurf discovers the fairy was really Gargamel in disguise and goes to Gargamel's laboratory to find the cure for the turlusiphon-induced sleep, and faces both Gargamel and his cat Azrael. Sadly, Gargamel's books say there is no known cure for the turlusiphon. Angry, the Smurf kicks the turlusiphon to the chimney and leaves Gargamel's home. At the village, Harmony (as the Smurf now calls himself) takes his old trumpet and decides to play a requiem for his fellow Smurfs. The miracle happens when his music is so awful that it awakens the Smurfs. The Smurfs decide to accept him at the orchestra due to his heroism, but they still cover their ears when he plays.
In the King Smurf story, Peyo and Yvan Delporte (the writer) appear to make several comments about government, the lengths politicians will go to be elected (such as making promises that they fail to keep) and the corruption and abuse of power. By these standards, the story can be considered a satire on Nazi Germany; which was particularly poignant in post-WW2 Europe, most analysts agreeing that Adolf Hitler took power through perfectly legal means before imposing a dictatorship. In the Dutch edition this link was even more apparent since the title of the story was "The Smurführer" (a reference to the German title "fuhrer" which Hitler used) instead of "King Smurf." The embarrassment the Smurfs feel when Papa Smurf returns makes the final battle seem like a schoolyard game which got out of hand.
In other media
When the story was made into an animated cartoon, it is Brainy Smurf who becomes King Smurf. "His Majesty's" disastrous forest-campaign is eliminated; Brainy's palace is destroyed not by a bomb, but by a flood when the dam on the River Smurf breaks. Ultimately, Brainy spells out the episode's moral, that "being a good leader means more than just giving orders."
In the animated version of Smurphony in C, the melody of the smurphony is based on a Beethoven gavotte. Furthermore, the instrument the "fairy" (Gargamel) offers Harmony is called a "shazala-kazoo".
- Zilveren Dolfijn lists translations of this story, with covers
- Images du Totalitarisme en bandes dessinées by Paul Guillerm