Pierre Culliford (known as Peyo) was born in Brussels in 1928. He was forced to work for a living from the age of 15, first as a projectionist in a cinema, followed by a stint in a cartoon studio.
When the studio closed down, Peyo decided to move in the direction of comic strips, initially drawing illustrations for various daily newspapers.
It wasn’t an easy beginning and the aspiring creator would have to wait until he started working for the magazine Spirou to experience any success, firstly with “Johan and Peewit”.
A few years later he created the Smurfs, characters who celebrated their 60th birthday last year and will be the focus of a new exhibition at this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October in October.
After their appearance, Peyo would continue with the adventures of “Johan and Peewit”, and Pussycat the cat – as well as creating Benny Breakiron, an incredibly strong little boy. But the worldwide success of the Smurfs ended up taking up all his time, and he continued to devote himself to their story, in all its forms, up until his death in 1992.
“As a child, I loved to draw,” said Peyo, “but actually, all children draw; some decide to become adults, serious people, and others refuse to grow up and end up getting into comic strips.”
Peyo’s qualities are what made his art, his success and his timeless work: the Smurfs many stories offer a clear narrative, a poetic sense of humour, efficient graphics and constant creativity … not forgetting the values which transcend the generations, such as tolerance, belief in the future, and respect for others.
Today, Peyo’s family and associates continue his work in the same spirit.
• An exhibition devoted to The Smurfs will take place from 4th October to 3rd November 2019 at the Sugar Store in The Brewery, Kendal, Cumbria. The Lakes International Comic Art Festival runs from in Friday 11th – 13th October 2019 at various venues across the town
• Wallonia-Brussels International is online at www.wbi.be
• The Smurfs are online at www.smurf.com