Review by Frank Plowright
The three stories published in this collection were all the work of artist Peyo and his writing collaborator Yvan Delporte, who weren’t above recycling their work if they could improve on it. In 1966 they expanded the title strip from a far shorter tale originally published as the third Smurfs solo story in 1960. The Smurfs need an egg to bake a cake. An average chicken’s egg is about half their size, so for around half the page count Delporte and Peyo shovel in far more slapstick gags than previously as the Smurfs attempt to bring an unbroken egg back to their village. While beautifully drawn, it’s strangely unimaginative until the midway point when an anomaly causes chaos in the village and for a few pages everything comes to life with a series of daft situations. However, this passes and we’re back to ordinary again all the way to a very predictable finishing gag.
‘The Fake Smurf’ is Peyo once again reworking and expanding the far shorter fourth Smurfs story from 1961, in which the sorcerer Gargamel uses his magic to become a Smurf and inveigle himself inside the Smurf village where he plans mischief. As seen from the sample page, there’s certainly no qualms about the quality of Peyo’s art, but his script, produced solo, isn’t up to his collaborative work. He takes too long to set up the gags, they’re telegraphed in some cases, and it’s an episodic piece. Kids may well love it, but it lacks the sophistication that characterises the best Smurfs material.
Peyo’s first collaboration with Delporte was on ‘The Hundredth Smurf’ in 1962, which features an early identification of several Smurfs and introduces the gag of Jokey Smurf’s exploding packages, which will run and run. The story is that Papa Smurf is short one Smurf for a ceremony that must take place every 654 years, which isn’t the only contrivance. This is, however, a smurf up from the stories Peyo produced on his own, with some smart gags and a more original plot indicating Delporte’s influence.
If on a budget this isn’t an essential Smurf book, but compensation for any slapdash writing always comes in the form of Peyo’s delightful cartooning. All three stories are also found at a slightly larger size in the hardcover Smurfs Anthology volume two, and a 1979 edition omitted ‘The Fake Smurf, but is in European album format. The Smurfs and the Howlibird is the next album.