Happy 60th birth­day, Smurfs

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BRUS­SELS: Bel­gium is cel­e­brat­ing the Smurfs’ 60th birth­day by giv­ing fans the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence walk­ing around their vil­lage and tak­ing a vir­tual re­al­ity ride through mys­ti­cal forests and caves.

Car­toon­ist Pierre Cul­li­ford, who wrote un­der the pseu­do­nym Peyo, struck gold with the in­ci­den­tal cre­ation of the Smurfs in 1958. He ini­tially cre­ated them as sup­port­ing characters in his comic of me­dieval he­roes Jo­han And Pee­wit.

Af­ter a great pub­lic re­sponse and de­mand for more Smurf adventures, the Bel­gian put the blue­skinned crea­tures cen­trestage with their own comic book the fol­low­ing year. That set off a global con­quest of the fam­ily of Smurf characters as they fight off sor­cerer Gargamel – who wants to turn them into gold – cul­mi­nat­ing in a Hol­ly­wood hit gross­ing half a bil­lion dol­lars in box-of­fice tak­ings in 2011.

In the Smurf Ex­pe­ri­ence at Brus­sels Expo, which will run un­til late Jan­uary 2019, vis­i­tors are taken through the Smurf vil­lage – with hu­man-sized mushroom-shaped homes – and the vir­tual re­al­ity ride, while fight­ing Gargamel.

In a lin­guis­ti­cally di­vided coun­try, the Smurfs have be­come a uni­fy­ing sym­bol in Bel­gium along with choco­late, waf­fles, beer and the na­tional soc­cer team.

“They (Smurfs) are a sym­bol of Bel­gian cul­ture and of Bel­gian her­itage,” said Chloé Bea­u­fays, the ex­hi­bi­tion’s spokesper­son.

Or­gan­is­ers hope to take the ex­hi­bi­tion to other Euro­pean coun­tries as well as the US and Asia over next five years. – Reuters

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

A lit­tle boy walks past a Smurf char­ac­ter at the Smurf Ex­pe­ri­ence ex­hi­bi­tion, de­pict­ing a larger-than-life recre­ation of the Smurf vil­lage in Brus­sels, Bel­gium, yes­ter­day. The expo marks the 60th an­niver­sary of the cre­ation of the Smurfs by car­toon­ist...

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