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Comic Book / Johan and Peewit

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Johan, right, and Peewit, left.

Johan and Peewit (Johan et Pirlouit in French) is a Belgian comic book created in 1952 by Pierre Culliford a.k.a. Peyo. It was originally a reworking of a short-lived newspaper strip.

Openly inspired by Hollywood classic chivalry movies and comic books such as Prince Valiant, it's the humorous stories of a young page and his dwarf friend in a undefined European medieval country with touches of magic. This series is remembered for introducing to the world certain blue skinned miniature humanoids, which would overshadow it.

The last 4 albums have been published after Peyo's demise, one of them signed by his son Thierry Culliford and two others by Yvan Delporte, to whom we owe the best Smurfs stories.


Johan and Peewit provides examples of:

  • Absent Animal Companion: Peewit adops a vegetarian falcon named Romulus in "The Earl of Montresor" who then promptly vanishes from subsequent stories.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: In the original comic books, Johan and Peewit first met the Smurfs in the story "The Smurfs And The Magic Flute" when they sought out the Smurfs to retrieve a magic flute that Peewit had found that Matthew McCreep had stolen and used for robbery. In the Animated Adaptation that is part of The Smurfs cartoon show, their first encounter was in "The Cursed Country" where Hefty and Smurfette sought them out to rescue their fellow Smurfs from being abducted by an evil dragon tamer.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Sara from "The War of the Seven Springs", the witch who granted Aldebert Baufort the wish of having his seven springs produce wine instead of water and then later cursed the springs to produce neither wine nor water when Aldebert became too demanding with her, was made out to be a villain who cursed the springs around Baufort Castle in the Animated Adaptation episode "The Haunted Castle", although she herself does not actually appear in the episode.
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  • Agent Provocateur: One lord was tired of his son's penchant for violence. He exiled him for a year and made him promise not to fight or else he'll be stripped of his title. The son's half-brother took advantage of this and sent three thugs to goad him into fights.
  • The Alcoholic: Aldebert Baufort loved wine too much and this led to the disaster in "The War of the Seven Springs". Also, the young wastrel Bertrand de Roucybeuf in "The master of Roucybeuf".
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Peewit and Johan have infiltrated a gang of brigands. Peewit then start to get drunk by drinking and almost spills the beans that they are part of the King's entourage.
  • Animated Adaptation: The Smurfs cartoon show featured separate episodes of Johan and Peewit's adventures during Season 2, after which the characters became guest stars within the cartoon show's main episodes. (In foreign markets, the episodes were aired separately in their own cartoon show, using a modified version of The Smurfs Season 2 intro.) They were also the main characters in the animated movie version of The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, released in Belgium in 1976, the United Kingdom in 1979, and in North America in 1983.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Thinking that Peewit has drowned, Hercule de Basse-Fosse mourns for him because he misses his singing voice, even though the lord was chasing him earlier and wanted him dead.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: Partly. "Good language" (we're talking about a European 50's comic book for children) is mixed with supposed-medieval mild profanities such as "Morbleu!" or "Ventrebleu!". And Peewit "sings" in real Old French.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Zigzagged. Many villains are unscrupulous nobles who try to take over the barony or overthrow the King. On the other hand, there are equally a good number of nobles who treat their people well.
  • Art Evolution:
    • In his debut, Johan started as a child. A few pages later, he then inexplicably grown in a young teen. Next album he becomes the page we know today.
    • The Smurfs had five fingers and stiffer hats on their first appearance. Their houses were also different types and sizes of mushrooms.
  • Ash Face: In "The Smurfs And The Magic Flute", Peewit gives Johan and the King a cloud of ash in their faces when he tries out the magic flute for the first time.
  • Astral Projection: Hypnokinesis is a form of this which is used on Johan and Peewit in "The Smurfs And The Magic Flute" (a.k.a. "The Flute With Six Holes").
  • Bad Boss:
  • Baleful Polymorph: The handsome Thierry of Plennevaux is turned into a dog by his rival the Baron of Maltrochu. Peewit also volunteers as a guinea pig for the transforming potion in order for an antidote to be found.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: In "The War of the Seven Springs" (and its Animated Adaptation "The Haunted Castle"), Aldebert de Baufort is prevented from joining his ancestors in eternal rest until the seven springs surrounding his estate are restored, and the land is claimed by a true Baufort descendant carrying the family seal.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Played straight, especially early in the series, as anyone who is beautiful is good and anyone who is ugly is evil. Things get a little less straight with the latest albums.
  • Beard of Evil: Guillaume (Basenhaut's evil advisor), Monulf (Fafnir's master), Maltrochu the evil baron.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Used by Peewit, Johan and a prisoner to scare off the Baufort. It works well enough until Peewit's sheet accidentally get caught in a candelabra.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The witch Sara granted Aldebert Baufort's wish to turn the Seven Springs' water into wine. This caused nothing but chaos in the land as everyone was too drunk to function normally.
  • Best Served Cold: Alderic waited decades before getting revenge against Godefroy and the King.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The King and his knights comes to the rescue Johan, Peewit and Lord Montrésor when they were ambushed by Courtecorne and his men.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Johan brings a friend who has been poisoned to Rachel, the witch. Rachel ask Johan what will be her reward for curing the man. Johan says "Nothing" and Rachel let out a huge "WHAT?!". Johan say that in exchange for curing his friend he'll vouch for her and the locals wont come after her. Rachel agrees with his reasoning and starts working on the cure.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Johan, mostly in the comic books and in The Smurfs and the Magic Flute.
  • Brains and Brawn: Lord Basenhaut is the brawn while his adviser Guillaume is the brains.
  • Breakout Character: The Smurfs got their own comic series that quickly eclipsed "Johan and Peewit" in popularity.
    • Also Peewit.
  • Butt-Monkey: Peewit just can't catch a break, being the comic relief and all.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The water magic stick.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: Lord Montrésor and Gwendoline were promised to one another by their parents. Montrésor isn't too thrilled because of her massive weight.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Romulus, Peewit's pet falcon, disappeared after only one appearance with no explanation.
  • Clear My Name: Before Peewit was formally introduced to the King and the court, someone had kidnapped the King's niece and placed the blame on Peewit.
  • The Corrupter: When Peewit is reinstated as Lord, his advisers claim that the coffers are empty. The only way to deal with the crisis, they say, is to overtax the populace and crush any opposition with a brutal regime. Peewit quickly guesses they are up to no good, and that the empty treasury is because of the advisers' embezzlement.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: When they first meet, Peewit is hostile towards Johan. But after Johan manages to capture him, and in turn acts nice to Peewit's goat Biquette, the two quickly become friends.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Johan is chasing Boustroux only to realize he doesn't have a weapon when the villain pulls out his sword.
    • Johan and Peewit jump in the sea to escape from lord Basse-Fosse and his men. The lord leap in the water only to remember that he doesn't know how to swim.
  • Dirty Coward: Guillaume, the adviser to two different evil lords, flee at the first sign of trouble.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Peewit's goat is named Biquette.
  • The Dreaded: Lord Hercule de Basse-Fosse is wildly feared among everyone who live in his castle, and presumably, by everyone in the nearby town. Basse-Fosse is a cruel lord and is easily displeased by anything that doesn't go his way. He will severely punish anyone who upset him with insults and/or bodily harm. He also happens to tower everyone in his entourage.
  • Dreadful Musician: Peewit.
  • The Dung Ages: When Maltrochu's servant suggests his master take a bath before his wedding, Maltrochu felt insulted and said he already had taken one three years ago.
  • Dying Alone: When everyone left the castle and his land, Lord Aldebert de Baufort was left all alone and he died without anyone at his side.
  • Early Installment Weirdness : Peewit doesn't appear until the third albums! For the first two albums the series was titled only Johan.
  • Easy Amnesia: Homnibus the wizard in "La Pierre de Lune" loses his memory after receiving a Tap on the Head and recovers it that way. In an interesting variation, the amnesia came with an alteration of his personality, giving him frequent mood swings and an overall nastiest demeanour than his usual good-natured self.
  • Enemy Mine: All the Bauforts put aside their rivalries and work together so they can stop the true heir of Baufort from claiming the Land of the Seven Springs. Of course, they also secretly plot to backstab each others when the time is right.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The King is simply referred to as "the King". His name is never disclosed.
  • Face Palm:
    • Johan makes one when Peewit turned the King's crown into lead.
    • During the Crusades, the King wondered what possessed Sir Godefroy to foolishly court the Emir's daughter in front of the Emir, earning his anger. Sir Godefroy said he couldn't help himself and then he start daydreaming about her, prompting the King to slap his hand over his face.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: When trying to distract Lord Basse-Fosse, Peewit prepared him a meal with nothing but hot spices for him. Johan was skeptical and took a sample only to breathe fire and ran around to fetch water. However, when the evil lord ate the meal he found it delicious. Confused, Peewit wondered if he put enough spice and tried a nibble only to panic as it was too hot for him.
  • Flying Broomstick: Sarah the witch has one.
    • Peewit tries one out in "La Pierre de Lune", manages to get it airborne and then crashes into a wall.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: The Wonder Wine that Peewit drank in Rachel's cabin in "The War of the Seven Springs" was changed to Laughing Water which he doused upon himself in the Animated Adaptation episode "The Haunted Castle".
  • Haunted Castle: Baufort Castle in the comic book story "The War of the Seven Springs" (and its Animated Adaptation counterpart "The Haunted Castle") is haunted by the late Aldebert de Baufort, because he had caused the seven springs surrounding his castle to dry up due to his selfish desire for more wine to drink, and thus is Barred from the Afterlife until the seven springs are restored and a true Baufort descendant who carries the family seal comes to reclaim the castle.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Johan is asexual as most of the comic book heroes of his time, while Peewit can be troubled by beautiful women.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Peewit. Played straight in his animated adventures, implied in the comics.
  • Horny Vikings: All vikings wear horned helmets and are introduced as fierce warriors.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Peewit is very quick to make fun of people who do exactly the same thing he was doing sometimes only a few panels before (being afraid of a ghost, enjoying acclamations from the populace...)
  • Image Song: The 1984 vinyl Les chansons de Johan et Pirlouit contains a couple songs where the main characters are singing about their lives. "Dame Barbe aux trousses" is a duet song between Peewit and Dame Barbara, "J'en ai marre d'etre roi" is sang by The King, and "Un ami pour la vie" is a Friendship Song between Johan and Peewit. The vinyl also contains two different theme songs for the French series.
  • I Want My Mommy!: Peewit, in his animated appearances, and also in "The War of the Seven Springs".
  • Knight of Cerebus: The fake Lord of Boustroux, Big Bad of The Moonstone album is the most sinister-looking, malevolent and competent villain of the series, out to Take Over the World and devoid of quirks. Even the fearless Johan is wary of him. Adept in sorcery, brainwashing and murders, he's so dangerous that he drowns offscreen rather than ending in the dungeons like every other baddie.
  • Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy: All the Baufort heirs in The War of the Seven Springs are related to the Aldebert de Baufort by extremely complicated connections (some of which are not even actual family ties) to the exception of course of the rightful heir (who is Aldebert's great-grandson).
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Guillaume suggests to his lord to abandon the invasion of the King's castle when they can't breach their defenses. Lord Basenhaut angrily objects. Guillaume later takes the opportunity to flee when Basenhaut plan a second invasion.
  • The Load: The King in The Cursed Country insists on following Johan and Peewit on their way to the titular country, and does nothing useful during the whole trip apart from complaining and occasionally hindering them (such as causing their raft to capsize out of fear of a will'o the wisp). Peewit ends up threatening him with a club when he asks them to bring him back to the castle while they are halfway through, and thinks at one point that he will end up committing regicide. To the King's defence, this was one of the most arduous trips the duo had ever undertaken (involving crossing a forest, a swamp, a desert, and tall mountains), but he had been forewarned and insisted to come anyway.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Played with. The Bauforts who want to claim the now fertile land say they are distant cousins, but it's not clear if they are telling the truth. Then, the proper Baufort's emissary shows up with the family's sigil and an actual direct bloodline.
    Peewit: Of course he is the third degree cousin of the stepson of Aldebert.
    Emissary: No, Aldebert is his grand-grandfather.
  • Long Runner: The first story was first published in 1954, while the latest (and probably last) one in 2001. Despite this, there have only been 17 books published.
  • Made of Indestructium:
    • The magic flute from "The Smurfs And The Magic Flute". The King tries to burn it to prevent Peewit from finding it, but the flute comes out of the fire completely unscratched. It's the first sign to Johan and the King that something's not right about the flute.
    • The King locked himself in his private cellar to escape the treacherous aide of a baron who was after his crown. The traitor ordered his goons to break down the door. The King just laughed it off saying the oaken door is heavy and reinforced with iron. Soon after, the goons broke their tools and the door didn't had any dent. After many hours of trying and failing, the goons just tore down the stone wall next to the door. Oops.
  • Magic Music: The Smurfs and the Magic Flute featured a flute that made people dance to its tune.
  • Medieval Morons: When Johan is chasing Boustroux, two peasants spotted them. They wonder who they should be helping and eventually settled for Boustroux despite his sinister look and dark clothes. Since his clothes are fancier, he's probably a noble in distress while the young man must be a ruffian.
  • The Middle Ages: The stories take place in the 11th century in Europe, though the actual location is never given. Apart from the fact that magic and dragons exist, the setting does look reasonably close to that era (minus the most unpleasant parts, since the comic is aimed at children).
  • Mighty Whitey: One of the King's knight, Alderic, died during the Crusades. Years later however, he's revealed to be alive. Desert Bandits found him and nursed him back to health. He soon joined them and converted to Islamic faith. Years later, he became their leader and his gang became the most fearsome brigands in the land.
  • Miles Gloriosus: A traveler at a castle started boasting about his combat abilities and span tales of defeating leagues of enemies. The next day, Johan and the traveler were both were ambushed by bandits. Johan praised the traveler's fighting prowess, in an attempt to intimidate the bandits into releasing them. Unimpressed, the bandits challenged the traveler to hand-to-hand combat and melee duel where he got beaten severely. Johan then says that they should all gang on him and see how mighty he is. Panicked, the traveler yelled that he spurred lies of his heroic deeds because he was too cowardly to fight. The bandits then shed their disguises and revealed that they were the king's guards. Johan explained he had a hard time believing his tales, so he set up this whole charade. The traveler didn't hold any grudge, but asked everyone to keep the whole thing a secret, to which everyone agreed.
  • Mistaken Age: Much to his frustration, Peewit will sometime get mistaken for a child because of his height.
  • Mordor: The Cursed Land, the original home of The Smurfs, which in their own series and the Animated Adaptation of The Smurfs and the Magic Flute would be retconned into the Smurf Forest.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Peewit comes to the rescue of a man who's been assaulted by two thugs. Unfortunately, as Peewit found out later, the man was a bandit and the thugs were actually merchants. Subverted as this allowed Peewit to infiltrate the brigand's gang by receiving an invitation from the grateful bandit.
  • Non-Action Guy: Guillaume is never seen fighting, preferring to think. When things go south, his MO is to flee.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Peewit's name in the English language books and cartoon episodes is usually pronounced Pee-Wee.note  The TV series intro pronounces the name just as it is spelled.
  • No-Sell: Peewit trying to slay the dragon while it sleeps. The dragon is unharmed and the sword is battered.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: de Boustroux's spell in La Pierre de Lune: "Lapis lunae, lapis parva, face mihi durum..."
  • One Steve Limit: Averted in "The War of the Seven Springs". There's a whole dozen of lords named "Baufort" coming to claim a castle and its land. This leads to some confusion among them when they need to work together.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: With a little magic trick, Fafnir ends up throwing water.
  • Philosopher's Stone: Inverted. Peewit created a Philosopher's stone that turned gold into lead. He used the King's golden crown as a demonstration, so you can guess how well that went.
    • In the episode of "The Smurfs" that used this storyline, the villain of the story tried to flee with an armload of gold items. However, Peewit used the stone to turn them into worthless lead ones, so the villain was forced to drop them, crying in defeat.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: Their episodes in Season 2 of The Smurfs cartoon show.
  • Prince and Pauper: The episode "The Prince And The Peewit".
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Princess Savina in the Animated Adaptation wears pink as part of her royal dress.
  • Punny Name: Basenhaut's name is a made up of words that mean "low to high".
  • Puppet King: Duke Castellac seemingly rules over his land, but in truth he's been secretly drugged by his squire Acelin.
  • Quicksand Sucks: On the way to the Cursed Land, Johan fell in a quicksand and Peewit has to save him.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: In the story where Peewit is first introduced in-universe, the King's niece has been kidnapped by "The Goblin of Rocky Wood" as a lure by Wouterskerske to capture him for ransom. But the moment Peewit revealed that he's the supposed Goblin and Wouterskerske's deceit, the King does indeed come to visit Wouterskerske per his invitation... in full armor, and with his army to storm the castle.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Alderic turned against his own men to protect Godefroy, Johan and Peewit. He was overwhelmed in the end and died from his wounds, but bought enough time for the Emir to save the day.
  • Red Herring: In the "The Master of Roucybeuf", Sir Hugues return to his land and quickly notice it has fallen in hard times and his father, the lord, has mysteriously vanished. His younger brother Bertrand is running the barony and is only interested in drinking and gambling. Readers quickly identify him as the perpetrator. In reality, his uncle Amauri is responsible for all the woes plaguing the land.
  • Replaced with Replica: In The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, Peewit tries and fails to swap out one of the magic flutes for a fake.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Homnibus the enchanter, who also sports the requisite Wizard Beard.
  • Running Gag:
    • Peewit getting seasick as soon as he set foot on a boat. He will always be lamenting that he's going to die, while someone else on the boat will always reassure him that he won't.
    • Johan getting an idea and asking Peewit to help him, prompting the latter to ask what his idea is. Johan will always reply that he'll explain it later and a frustrated Peewit will always reply "Later, always later!".
    • The Baufort heirs in The War of the Seven Springs keep going into fistfights with each other at each opportunity. Peewit invokes it at the end as payback.
  • Set Swords to "Stun": A lot of battles with swords and otherwise bladed weapons, but remarkably no bloodshed. Even when Peewit lets loose with his favorite weapon, an actual morning star, the opponents merely get as much damage as from a strong punch and a black eye. The worst Peewit himself gets is a rock falling on his helmet, getting it stuck on his head and swearing because he can't remove it. As for Johan, he seems to use the blade of his sword exclusively for parrying. When he's seen striking a blow it's always to knock someone out with the hilt.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: The Baleful Polymorph potion in The curse of Maltrochu does not affect clothes. When Peewit drinks it, he keeps his human clothes (who happen to more or less fit his bull dog form) and never bothers to change out of them. When Thierry is returned to human form at the end of the story, he is stark naked (we don't get to see it, of course, but Thierry is quite embarrassed once he notices it, Johan quickly offers his cape "so that he does not get cold", and Peewit snickers).
  • Short Cuts Make Long Delays: in "The War of the Seven Springs", Peewit's 'shortcut' is the reason he and Johan get lost and end up in the haunted castle of Aldebert de Baufort in the first place, thus kicking off the plot. Later in the same story, Peewit's shortcuts prevent the two from reaching Baufort's true heir in time to warn him that the other potential heirs are plotting against him.
  • Shot in the Ass: In "The Smurfs And The Magic Flute", Johan accidentally shoots an arrow into somebody's ass when Peewit messes up his aim by playing the magic flute.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Baufort heirs decide to work together to get rid of the rightful heir before deciding who will inherit of the castle of the seven springs. Since they are all after the same goal and can't stand each others to begin with, they break into fistfights at the first opportunity.
  • Tempting Fate: The King, Godefroy and Alderic escaped from the Emir's dungeons. Godefroy was overjoyed, but the King told him not to celebrate just yet as they are still in enemy territory. Godefroy wonders what could possibly go wrong. His horse then trips on a rock and causes Alderic to collide with him, who then falls off a cliff.
  • Too Dumb to Live: During the Crusades, the King and two of his knights were captured by a local Emir. One of the knights, Sir Godefroy, fell in love with Aicha, the Emir's daughter. He started to court her... in front of his father, which prompts him to order the trio's execution, first thing in the morning.
  • Treasure Map: Tired of Peewit's music, Johan tricked him into exchanging his mandore for a fake treasure map. Peewit go on a very long treasure hunt while Johan and the King enjoy some quiet time at the castle. However, the fake map truly led to a treasure stash and Peewit used it to buy many new music instruments, including a new mandore.
  • Underestimating Badassery: One large viking lord laughed at Peewit and challenged him into a fight. Peewit used his small size to his advantage and dodge all blows. It ended with Peewit tickling the lord into submission.
  • Unfinished Business: The ghost of Aldebert Baufort has being punished by his ancestors to roam his castle every nights. That is, until the 7 springs are restored and a true heir to the Baufort line reclaims the castle.
  • Will-o'-the-Wisp: In the adventure "The Cursed Land" (Le Pays Maudit), the duo is crossing a bog on a raft when they notice Will o'the Wisps. Unfortunately the King is traveling with them, and he is superstitious; he soon causes the raft to capsize.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Frenche: Averted when Peewit is singing. Ear-grating though his songs are, he at least sings them in genuine medieval French. "Ge sui juglères de vièle, Si sai de muse et de frestele (...) De l'salteire et en la rote, Sai je bien chanter une note."