Tuesday, September 18, 2007

And not a can of spinach in sight

The past few days I have been reading a book of "Thimble Theater" comic strips from 1929.
The Elzie Crisler Segar strip featured the debut of POPEYE on Jan. 17, 1929, but in those days the wisecracking sailor man only played a supporting role and didn't need any spinach to provide a timely and effective punch.
William Randolph Hearst brought Segar to New York in 1919 to start work on a daily comic strip for the national Hearst newspaper chain. "Thimble Theater" debuted in December 1919 in the New York Journal.
It would be another decade before Segar's most famous creation made an appearance. When Popeye did appear, he was little more than a foil for Castor Oyl, Olive Oyl's brother and the strip's main character at that time.
Popeye eventually became a cultural phenomenon as the flapper age gave way to the Great Depression, and Max Fleischer's Popeye cartoons for Paramount Studios cemented the sailor's place in American lore.
Sadly, Segar did not live long after Popeye's emergence on the national scene. Segar died on Oct. 13, 1938.


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