The Finance Smurf (original French title Le Schtroumpf Financier) is the sixteenth album of the original French-language Smurfs comic series created by Belgian artist Peyo. Papercutz has currently released the English translation of this story on July 1, 2014.
Papa Smurf's lab explodes while he was making the formula "Ad Capitis mala et alios dolores sanandos" (which is about as far as Brainy Smurf can read because he is unable to translate the writing as he claims) and when the other Smurfs arrive, Papa Smurf is unconscious. A Smurf goes to Homnibus' home to ask for help. Homnibus discovers that Papa Smurf has fallen sick due to using sulfur in the formula, but he lacks the linden stipules needed for the antidote, so he sends Oliver to buy some. The Smurf goes with Oliver and learns about money and the humans' commerce system.
The Smurf returns to the Smurf Village with medicine that Papa Smurf must drink three times a day to get better. The Smurf tries to tell Papa Smurf about money, but Papa Smurf needs rest and is unable to hear him, so the Smurf decides to put the commerce system in practice as a surprise, becoming Finance Smurf.
The first step is to make coins. Finance Smurf asks Painter Smurf to make a picture of Papa Smurf's face inside a circle, which is then used as a model for Sculptor Smurf to make a mold for the coins. Then after Finance Smurf helps Miner Smurf get rid of the "worthless yellow rocks" in his mines, Handy Smurf pours molten gold on the mold to make the first Smurf coins.
Finance Smurf arranges a conference to explain to the Smurfs what money is and how it works. Everybody agrees on Finance Smurf's idea to use money from now on (save for Brainy Smurf). Each Smurf gets a bag of 100 coins at the start, though Finance Smurf says that he deserves to have a double portion because of expenses.
At first, the inexperienced Smurfs need Finance Smurf's help to know how much they need to spend or ask for given services, and find the currency system funny, but after some time, trouble begins. While Baker Smurf, Farmer Smurf, Handy Smurf and some other Smurfs get richer, most Smurfs get poor and need to find ways to get money, selling unwanted stuff that they previously did for fun (Jokey Smurf's presents, Harmony Smurf's concerts, Poet Smurf's poems, etc). Smurfette is simply frustrated because she is mostly working without getting paid for it.
Finance Smurf creates and manages a bank to loan money to the poorer Smurfs and to store away the richer Smurfs' money, but Farmer Smurf doesn't trust the institution and goes to bury his money in the forest only to encounter Gargamel there. Farmer Smurf escapes, dropping a coin which is picked up by the wizard, who then realizes that the Smurfs have money now.
Farmer Smurf notices that he has lost the coin, so he goes to get it back, but when he starts to cross the bridge, it falls apart. Finance Smurf offers to finance the bridge repairs if any Smurf who crosses the bridge from then on pays him a toll. He asks Handy Smurf to get the price for the materials. Carpenter Smurf asks 1500 coins for the wood, which Handy Smurf finds too expensive, so another Smurf offers him inferior wood for just 1000 coins, plus a bribe that Handy accepts.
Farmer Smurf returns to the forest to find his lost coin, but Gargamel has planted there lead coins painted yellow as bait that lures the Smurf into a trap. Gargamel then sends his crow Corbelius with a message for the Smurfs to give him all their money in exchange for Farmer Smurf. Papa Smurf, who has recovered, sends a Smurf to spy on Gargamel, and the Smurf spy discovers the evil wizard setting up a trap to get both the Smurfs and their money. The Smurfs fix Gargamel's trap to make it fall on him instead of them. Then, while Finance Smurf and Brainy Smurf carry the money back to the Village, other Smurfs go to Gargamel's house to save Farmer Smurf from Azrael. Papa Smurf decides to throw a party to celebrate their triumph, but then Finance Smurf asks who will pay for it, so at the end there's no party.
After seeing his destroyed laboratory, Papa Smurf finds out from Handy that it will cost him money to rebuild. But before he could that, he has to pay Smurfette for caring him during his sickness, Chef Smurf for food, and a few other Smurfs for their services, and so he quickly becomes poor. When Finance Smurf suggests that he should charge his little Smurfs for any help he gives them, Papa Smurf soundly refuses. Papa Smurf observes the Village and notes that all the things the Smurfs once did in a cooperative spirit are now done on a paid-only basis, and there are fights over money and much stress due to the constant work.
One day, a Smurf gets sick of the boring currency-based life and decides to leave the Smurf Village. Other Smurfs agree and leave with him, even Papa Smurf. In fact, everyone leaves save for Finance Smurf, who tells them they cannot leave because they owe him money. Their response is to throw all the money back to him. Finance Smurf at first refuses to return to the old ways and gloats about having the whole Village for himself, but he changes his mind when he decides he doesn't want to be alone, so he asks everybody to return to the village and the old system based on cooperation. The coins are then converted into golden musical instruments.
The subject of the comic book is the famous system that has been implemented on human society: money. Peyo shows us the social differences that grow between the Smurfs (rich and poor) and how the lifestyle of the Smurfs changes, revolving around money and bringing misery everywhere. To some readers, particularly Americans who are more familiar with the cartoon show, this may suggest that true Smurf culture in general promotes communism over capitalism, though in reality their society is more family-based than nation-based.
In other media
- This is the last comic book story that was worked on by the original Peyo, Pierre Culliford before his death on December 24, 1992. His son Thierry Culliford would take over in creating all Smurf comic book stories from that point onward, mostly in the area of scripting stories with various cartoon artists on hand doing the artwork.
- This would probably be the last story to feature Hefty Smurf without his trademark tattoo from the cartoon show, as the next story that was published after Peyo's death had Hefty with the tattoo on his right arm. The Papercutz English translation modifies one of the Smurf characters near the end of the story so that he does resemble Hefty with his tattoo, so it's likely that Hefty adopted the mark during the events of the story.
- The story is referenced in The Jewel Smurfer by Jokey Smurf, in The Reporter Smurf in the article below the main editorial in the Smurf Village newspaper's debut issue, and in The Smurf Vacation when one Smurf explains to Barbapapa why he couldn't pay him for the lollipop he received from the human.
- The story has a supposed continuity error in the manner of Smurfs not knowing what money is, as seen in previous comic book stories: In The Egg and the Smurfs, a Smurf makes the wish to become "rich" and gets money and jewels (although he is clueless about what do with the money); in Smurf Stories, Handy Smurf has built a machine that would turn hazelnuts into coins so that he could "buy" more hazelnuts, and in the comic book version of The Smurflings the three adult Smurfs that would become Smurflings see coins on the floor and recognize that they are money. Then again, it is possible that it's only the title character who does not know what money is.