Gargamel

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Gargamel
Gargamel and his cat Azrael.
Gargamel and his cat Azrael.
Publication information
PublisherDupuis
First appearanceSpirou (Comic Strip; 1959)
Created byPeyo
Voiced by
In-story information
SpeciesHuman
PartnershipsAzrael
Abilities

Gargamel is a fictional character and the main antagonist of the Smurfs show and comic books. He is a wizard and the sworn enemy of the Smurfs. His main goals are either destroy the Smurfs, eat them, or transform them into gold.

Appearance and personality[edit]

Gargamel is consistently portrayed as hunched over, clad in a tattered and patched robe, and sporting decaying teeth. He resides in a ramshackle hovel along with his scruffy feline companion, Azrael.[1]

Gargamel harbors an intense and unrelenting hatred for the Smurfs; however, he is not above pretending to befriend them if it serves his interests. Additionally, he frequently directs disparaging remarks, insults, and mistreatment toward Azrael, who typically responds in kind, often finding amusement in Gargamel's moments of humiliation. Nonetheless, certain episodes of 'The Smurfs' suggest that Gargamel may possess genuine affection for his cat, demonstrating a sincere concern for Azrael's well-being.

Conflict with the Smurfs[edit]

The character of Gargamel makes his debut in 'Le Voleur de schtroumpf' ('The Smurfnapper'), published in 1959. His primary aim is to capture a Smurf, which he requires as a crucial ingredient for a potion capable of transmuting base metals into gold, following the legendary alchemical pursuit of the Philosopher's Stone. This endeavor leads to a confrontation with the other Smurfs, who unite to rescue their kidnapped comrade. In the ensuing struggle, the sorcerer is soundly defeated and subjected to humiliation, vowing revenge with the declaration, 'From now on, the conflict would be personal!'

Gargamel's motivations regarding the Smurfs oscillate between a desire to consume them, transform them into gold, and engage in even more unconventional endeavors. There are moments of sheer rage where he exclaimes, 'I don't want to see them, I don't want to eat them, I don't want to turn them into gold; all I want to do now is destroy them!' His attempts to capture Smurfs are often both bizarre and elaborate, such as his creation of a 'blue magnet' specifically designed to attract blue objects. Gargamel maintains a vast library of spell books (grimoires), potions, and gadgets, all dedicated to his obsession with the Smurfs. However, regardless of the complexity of his plans, they inevitably culminate in failure, prompting his signature catchphrase: 'I hate Smurfs!'

Although there have been instances where Gargamel inadvertently stumbled upon the Smurf village's location, fate or various peculiar circumstances always intervened to thwart his progress. On some occasions, a spell cast by Papa Smurf diverted him away, while other times, he strayed too far while pursuing the Smurfs and found himself unable to retrace his steps. Gargamel even attempted to leave a pheromone trail leading from the village to his residence, but the Smurfs used cinnamon to obfuscate the scent and prevent his return.

In one episode, Gargamel finally achieve his goal to turn the Smurfs into gold, by turning Sassette, Grandpa Smurf, and Brainy Smurf into gold coins, but only for two robbers to steal them. Gargamel goes after them to retrieve his coins back, but he gets arrested by King Gerald (one of the Smurfs’ friends) and his guards. The Smurfs rescue Sassette, Grandpa, and Brainy and they return to their normal forms.

During one particularly obsessive search, Gargamel ventured into the deepest caverns, muddiest marshlands, and far out to sea. He was on the verge of giving up when, almost by chance, he stumbled upon the village—only for fate, as always, to conspire against him.

In rare instances (occurring only a few times in the series), Gargamel found himself aligned with the Smurfs. In the episode 'Fountain of Smurf', Papa Smurf was transformed into a Smurfling, and the sole means of reversing the transformation necessitated Gargamel's assistance.

Gargamel possesses a spell book known as the 'Great Book of Spells', which resides in the basement of his home. This book is a sentient entity capable of speech and bound by an arrangement, requiring it to provide Gargamel with one requested spell per month, specifically during the final phase of the full moon. The book adheres to the letter of the agreement but often interprets Gargamel's wishes literally, leading him through humiliating rituals and ingredient-gathering tasks. In later seasons, it is suggested that the book's intentions may not be malicious and it merely disapproves of selfish spell-casting, assisting the Smurfs with minimal fuss in resolving magical crises.

In his endeavors to torment the Smurfs, Gargamel has even created other Smurfs, most notably Smurfette. While Smurfette was eventually adopted by the Smurfs, Sassette Smurfling, created by the other Smurflings, was shaped from the same clay Gargamel had used for Smurfette. Sassette holds a unique perspective in the Smurf village, referring to Gargamel as 'Pappy Gargamel' and hoping to find some redeeming qualities in him.

In more modern adaptations, such as the two live-action films and 'The Lost Village', Gargamel's goal shifts to extracting the essence of Smurfs to attain ultimate sorcerous power and conquer the world.

Relationships[edit]

One time, Gargamel did almost get married. His "mummy" decided it was high time he took a wife and introduced him to a baron's lovely daughter (Andria), who did not really love him. He did not really have any feelings for the girl either, until he saw in her hope chest a definitive map to the Smurf Village and then proclaimed his love for her and accepted her hand in marriage. (Of course, he still did not love her, just the map to the Smurf Village.) Some Smurfs showed up at the wedding and wrought enough havoc to ruin the wedding completely, so finally the ceremony was canceled.

In the episode "Gargamel's Sweetheart", he does fall in love with Evelyn, a glamorous but evil witch who he tries unsuccessfully to impress with his claims of being a rich, powerful wizard, but he does catch her interest when he also claims to know how to turn lead into gold, and gets her to agree to help him catch the Smurfs to do so. Their efforts go unrewarded thanks partly to his bungling.

In 1988, the eight season of the series, Gargamel was forced to deal with Denisa, Balthazar’s niece. In "A Smurf for Denisa", he was forced to take care of her while Balthazar was busy. Later, Gargamel captures Sassette (who befriended Denisa), but Denisa gets angry at this and stops him. He then takes the two girls to his home, but while Denisa was away, he tries to eat Sassette, but she runs away after Gargamel captures Papa, Nanny, and the Smurflings. Sassette, Denisa, and Smoogle then go to Gargamel’s home, and while Smoogle makes a distraction, Sassette and Denisa rescue their friends. Gargamel tries to stop them, but he gets stopped by Balthazar, who zaps him. In "Denisa’s Greedy Doll", he uses Denisa’s doll to make into a voodoo doll, by using Greedy’s apron, but then Denisa arrives and takes her doll. Later, Denisa tries to get her doll back, but the doll falls right into Papa, who uses it to reverse the spell on Greedy to Gargamel. Denisa finally gets her doll back, and Gargamel captures the Smurfs, but when Denisa goes to visit Balthazar, the spell on her doll controls Gargamel. In "Denisa’s Slumber Party", he and Azrael (Scruple does not appear in the episode) are forced to babysit Denisa when she hosts a party (in which she also invites Sassette). But when Gargamel hears Sassette, Papa, Smurfette, and the Smurflings trying to rescue Denisa from a dragon, he captures Sassette and tries to get the other Smurfs, but only the get stopped by Denisa. To making things worse, he and Azrael accidentally break Balthazar’s crystal, and this makes Balthazar very angry and he zaps them.

Cartoon series[edit]

Being the earliest of the Smurfs' sworn enemies, it was inevitable that Gargamel would be a recurring character in the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series. In the opening theme, he shouts out his hatred for the Smurfs and begins his desperate attempts to catch them.

Despite his never-ending hatred and frustration for the Smurfs, more than once has he had to rely on Papa Smurf to help save him from a more wicked enemy's plans (such as Balthazar) or to rescue him from a potion gone horribly wrong. Other times, they have had to team up to fight a common enemy. On another occasion, the episode "The Fountain of Smurf", Papa Smurf drinks too much water from a fountain of youth and becomes a smurfling. The Smurfs are forced to rely on Gargamel to come to their aid and help turn Papa Smurf back to his proper age. Gargamel and Azrael themselves fall into the Fountain of Youth, and become a child and a kitten again, respectively.

In later episodes, he acquired an apprentice named Scruple, who was frequently rejected from a boarding school for young wizards (which Gargamel himself had been expelled from in his youth) and only Gargamel was willing to teach him magic, and only because he was bribed by the wizards in charge of the school. Scruple seems moderately brighter and savvier than his master, though still inexperienced in the ways of magic. Although Scruple aids Gargamel in capturing the Smurfs, his main problem is with the students of the wizard academy who berate him for failing to qualify for admission. However, in the scheme of things, the smugness of the students proves to be a weakness for them, as Scruple has some success using Gargamel's magic to cause them problems. In one episode, Scruple finds the Great Book of Spells.

In 1989, the final season of the series, where the Smurfs are constantly traveling through time, different incarnations of Gargamel would appear, such as showing him as an Indian fakir, a Russian peasant, or a Spanish bullfighter. In one of the earlier episodes of the final seasons, where Gargamel is shown as an Egyptian pharaoh's aide, Papa Smurf believes that all these similar-looking men (and their cats) seen must be ancestors of the infamous Gargamel and Azrael of their present time.

Actors[edit]

Cartoons[edit]

Actors who voiced Gargamel in different languages are:

Live-action films[edit]

Gargamel is played by Hank Azaria in the live-action/animated film series.

Animated film[edit]

Gargamel is voiced by Rainn Wilson in Smurfs: The Lost Village.[5]

In other media[edit]

Paul Winchell voiced Gargamel on the 1980s animated television series, Hank Azaria portrayed Gargamel in The Smurfs (2011) and The Smurfs 2 (2013) and voiced him in The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol (2011) and The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow (2013), and Rainn Wilson voiced Gargamel in the film Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017). In the Web Novel, "Warlock of Magus World" Gargamel is the name of an early arc antagonist, an amalgamation of spirits.

Naming[edit]

The name "Gargamel" resembles François Rabelais' classic Gargantua and Pantagruel, where the giantess Gargamelle is the mother of Gargantua. This is appropriate since Gargamel is a giant compared to the Smurfs. The word gargamelle in French has become a slang term for "throat".

Yvan Delporte suggested the name "Gargamel"; he also proposed the name "Azrael", considering "angel of death" an appropriate name for the would-be killer of Smurfs. He also liked the rhyme with Gargamel.

Names in other languages[edit]

Different names have been used in different languages in the cartoon series:

  • Finnish: Velho, directly translated from English word "wizard"
  • German: Gurgelhals (literally "throatneck", implying strangling). From 1995 onward, the original name Gargamel is used in Smurf comics publications. In the TV series the original name Gargamel was always used
  • Hungarian: Hókuszpók, a wordplay on "hocus pocus", with "pók" also meaning spider
  • Icelandic: Kjartan
  • Italian: Gargamella (phonetic adaptation of the original name)
  • Arabic: شَرشَبيل (Sharshabeel)
  • Vietnamese: Lão Gà Mên (phonetic adaptation of the original name with "Lão" means old man)
  • Greek: Δρακουμέλ (drakoumel)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rovin, Jeff (1991). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cartoon Animals. Prentice Hall Press. p. 13. ISBN 0-13-275561-0. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Gargamel". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved 2022-08-28.
  3. ^ "Gargamel Voices (Smurfs)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  4. ^ "Results for 'Gargamel'". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  5. ^ "Smurfs Production Blog". Smurfsproductionblog.tumblr.com. Retrieved 2016-03-29.