Nine Culliford, from her maiden name Janine Devroye, wife of Peyo, creator of the Smurfs, passed away this Tuesday aged 86. Everyone in the Smurfs family remember 1946 as an important year for Pierre Culliford, as it was the year when he took the artist name of Peyo, published his first board and met Janine Devroye.
She would later become his wife, the mother of his children Veronique and Thierry, and his most trusted associate.
It is Nine who suggested to paint the Smurfs in blue, because she felt that the color stood out much better on the green backgrounds of a forest environment.
Since the passing of her husband in December 1992, Mrs Peyo carried on taking an active part in the development of the comics by giving color advises, just like she had been doing since 1958. It is now Véronique and Thierry Culliford’s task to perpetuate the work of their parents.
Peyo’s family and everyone currently hard at work on SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE are now missing a great lady. The image of Smurfette featured in this post was drawn in loving memory of Nine by character designer Patrick Mate and painted by production designer Noelle Triaureau.
Producer Jordan Kerner recalls “Nine was a true lady. She was generous, beautiful and strong. She was so very intelligent and tasteful. She is with Peyo now. No doubt enjoying a village and friends awash in the blue she loved so much. Nine was a gem. As we stood together on the Paris Opera House Stage, with a full audience (a set for one of our Smurfs movies), she hugged me, and Veronique translated, that she could never have dreamed of this moment. Seeing that smile made the complex journey worthwhile. Nine stood side by side with Peyo to create characters, a village, and an entire environment, which has given so much joy to the world. She is in the hands of angels. May she Smurfily rest in peace.”
Adds director Kelly Asbury, “My thoughts are with the Culliford family and everyone at Lafig. I never had the pleasure of meeting Nine, but her Smurfy legacy will live on and on, in the many personas embodied by all those adorable blue citizens of Smurf Village… and beyond. I’m proud to be able to count myself - even in the smallest way - among those who will help carry on Peyo’s and Nine’s life’s work.”
SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE which marks a return to Peyo’s style and tone in full animated form is being dedicated to Nine Culliford. May she rest in peace.