EC Segar - comic review (3 stars)

EC Segar

Popeye: I Yam What I Yam (Fantagraphics)


Mainly remembered for his eating habits rather than his comic prowess, Popeye has been about since 1929, as a character in the cast of Thimble Theatre, EC Segar’s farcical, vaudevillian comic saga that was initially published in American newspapers a decade earlier. Popeye and his on/off beau Olive Oyl became the real stars of the show from then on and the strip survived in this form until Segar’s death in 1938.

This huge and handsome hardback tome draws together strips culled from newspapers from 1928-1930 and coming down somewhere between the Marx Brothers for patter and Tom and Jerry’s knockabout capers for action.

From magic hens to boxing schemes to deceitful suitors, it is trippy, verbose and complex at points - thanks mostly to the massive cast - and published as it was, at a time when comic strips were beginning to genuinely evolve and be radical, this was fairly sophisticated even if a lot of the slapstick has lost it’s dynamism over the years.

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