Now I don't know about you but I needed a bit of a larf recently. And the most larfs I had lately were courtesy of these comics. So I thought I'd tell you about them and then you could go and buy them and have a larf too. It's called The Cycle of Larf! Arf! Arf! No, wait, these are good books, honest! Oh, be like that then.
POPEYE #1 Art and letters by Bruce Ozella Written by Roger Langridge Coloured by Luke McDonnell IDW, $3.99 (2012) POPEYE created by E.C. Segar
A while back I commented that the presence of this comic was awesome for anyone who missed Thimble Theatre. Forgetting I was on The Internet I think my words were misconstrued as a dig at the fact that such an old property was being dug up and dusted off once again; despite the fact that the original audience had long ago ceased to care about comics if not before, then certainly shortly after, they had ceased breathing, which they all had some time ago. That's not actually what I meant. What I actually meant was that the presence of this comic is awesome for anyone who missed Thimble Theatre. Like me. Basically I meant "missed" as in "failed to experience" rather than "felt the loss or lack of". Words are tricky, hear me now!
I was well up for this because the only time Roger Langridge has ever disappointed me was that time when he failed to bring peace to the world entire. To be fair though that expectation may only have been in my head and comics are really more his thing. After all comics are a thing Roger Langridge does rather well. Here he just dives in with a feature length tale of Popeye and all his familiar companions, together with several unfamiliar to me anyway, creations having madcap adventures of a bizarre and confounding nature while in serach of a mate for The Jeep. Apparently this strange creature gave the WW2 US Army vehicle its name. I previously thought it was named after the onomatopoeic effect of the initials for General Purpose (G.P.) but, no, apparently it was a Popeye character. According to the Bud Sagendorf book anyway, more on that anon. Langridge and Ozella's tale is a pell mell charge into entertainment which is dense in event with something engagingly off-kilter occurring on every page. Ozella's art has a loose and scrappy quality that retains the "punkier" quality of Segar's work as opposed to the cleaner Sagendorf stuff. By basically taking the property of Popeye and changing very little (his pipe is just for show now), the book retains the central appeal of the character which is the main reason to buy the thing. That's not cluelessness it's common sense.
People want Popeye not "street level" Popeye or "Tom Clancy-lite" Popeye. If the book doesn't sell then people just don't want Popeye. The yellow lettering on the cover of my copy indicates it is a "2nd Printing", so I guess people want Popeye alright. This is something DC could bear in mind with characters like Captain "Shazam!" Marvel. If you change it too much it isn't that character anymore and if it isn't that character anymore why should anyone care? After all making Captain Marvel a dick in a hood contributes little except a clear indication that he isn't Jewish. Anyway, this comic is about Popeye not Shazam! (Boo!) and it reads like a Popeye comic and thanks to the talents of all involved it is VERY GOOD!
Please help send Brian Hibbs to Summer Camp by purchasing this comic from HERE. Issues 2,3 and 4 are also now available, just saying. Summer Camp can be pricey these days.
POPEYE (Classic Comics) #1 By Bud Sagendorf IDW/Yoe Comics, $3.99 (2012) POPEYE created by E.C. Segar
Now, when I read the 2012 comic I had very little idea about Popeye but once I'd finished it I found my curiosity had been piqued. Luckily this comic appeared. So I bought it. Causality in action there. This is apparently the first issue in a complete reprinting of the POPEYE comics which spun up and out from the newspaper strip. There are over a hundred of these. Judging by the contents of this issue the next ten years are going to be called the Happy Popeye Fan Decade. Because although I'd never heard of Bud Sagendorf before buying this it turns out that Bud Sagendorf is all kinds of awesome. He is particularly awesome at Popeye.
His style is cleaner and more polished than that of Segar but it loses none of its anatomical daftness and retains enough of the creepiness that always underlies Popeye's comedy. Although these strips are from 1948 they are just as mentally, er, different and rich in incident as the 2012 comic. The strips seem to have been copied straight from the old comics with warts and all remaining which gives them a lovely old timey feeling, like when you maul your grandad's face. The pages are thick and the package has a heft and solidity pleasing to the purchaser. I believe Brian Hibbs calls this quality "finger". POPEYE CLASSIC COMICS has good finger. The comics within it are, truth to tell, also VERY GOOD!
Now, I don't want to come across as though I'm rattling a tin in front of your face but this comic can also be purchased from HERE.
POPEYE The Great Comic Book Tales By Bud Sagendorf By Bud Sagendorf (Natch! Arf! Arf!) IDW/Yoe Books, $29.99 (2011) POPEYE created by E.C. Segar
So I read those books and then I went looking for more. Because I am a greedy man indeed. And that's how I ended up buying this. It's a sturdy volume and like all Yoe books the design and research speak so loudly of enthusiasm that any cavils about proofreading are soon drowned out. The contents are a selection of Sagendorf's strips across a roughly 10 year period. The reproduction, and in fact the very first strip, are exactly the same as the comic above. So if you enjoyed that you're sure to enjoy this. Heck if you enjoy Popeye or just good comics you're certain to enjoy this.
There are probably historically verifiable reasons for each of the stunningly unsettling character designs on display here. One thing I do know is the timeless quality engendered by their wonderful weirdness enables each new generation to imprint their own meaning upon them. The Sea Hag, for example, looks like nothing so much as a stroppy Grant Morrison in a hooded cloak. That’s pretty disturbing on its own but when she asks the squint-eyed one for his malformed hand in marriage whole new vistas of repellent perversity play out in the unwilling reader’s mind. Conversely when old arse-chin smacks The Sea Hag one upside her weirdly hirsute chin you do kind of want to shout, “That’s for Siegel and Shuster, you pound shop Anarchist!” Basically though why these strangely swollen and wobbly looking folks look the way they do I haven't a clue. Maybe E.C. Segar had a squint, talked like his tongue was as big as a cat and had a chin like a bum with a pipe stuck in it. I don’t know. I know he had tattoos so that’s one mystery solved right there. I could have looked it all up but frankly I want to keep the focus on these comics and when I do finally get those E.C. Segar volumes from Fantagraphics I’ll be wanting to present their well researched facts as my own won’t I now?
This volume has its own well researched facts in the form of preface by Craig Yoe which is illustrated with Sagendorf rarities and one picture of the artist with snowy white hair. I am a big fan of pictures of comic book artists with snowy white hair. To me they are like pictures of kittens are to normal people. This introduction is highly enlightening in regard to Sagendorf’s craft as it includes two pages from a correspondence course he chipped in on (above) and has the man himself explaining, via quotes, some of the process involved in the creation of the strips. He and Segar would basically fish from Segar’s boat for five days hashing ideas out before belting the strips out. The introduction isn't very long but as I say it’s informative After reading it you understand why Sagendorf was able to replicate The Master’s style after his death i.e. simpatico interests (science -fiction, which explains a lot about the strip in itself) and seemingly being a creative equal for much of their association. And yet it points at the huge mystery of why it took Kings Feature Syndicate 2o years to pass the job on to Sagendorf without offering an answer. In the end though Sagendorf got the gig and made it his own. The extent to which he succeeded can now be viewed by generations previously unaware of his very existence. I think he would have liked that and I think you will like this book as it is VERY GOOD!
Before I bought POPEYE #1 by Langridge and Ozella I knew very little about Popeye, shortly thereafter I had bought POPEYE CLASSIC COMICS #1 and POPEYE THE GREAT COMIC BOOK TALES. I don't know much about publishing or retailing but I think I might count that as a success right there for all involved and the persistent magic of the the profoundly stupid or perhaps even the stupidly profound, world of POPEYE!
Have a good weekend, y'all, and read some COMICS!!! (Maybe even buy 'em from HERE!)