The self-taught Belgian cartoonist behind the Smurfs is getting some long-awaited recognition with a first-ever retrospective of his work that opened in Paris on Thursday.
"Everybody knows the Smurfs, a real international success, but no one knows their creator Pierre Culliford," alias Payo, said Eric Leroy, curator of the show at the Arcurial gallery just off the Champs Elysees.
"We wanted to pay hommage to the man, a real storyteller, full of humour."
The show - running until August 30 - features more than 200 original panels retained by Payo's family after his death in 1992 at the age of 64, as well as photographs, albums and some personal objects.
Fans of the sock-topped blue critters - animated stars of a Hollywood family comedy that's due out in 3D at the end of July - will discover how much Payo enjoyed dreaming up stories but doubted his artistic talent.
"I draw badly, and that enables me to make a simple drawing," he once said.