When I die, Saint Peter is going to ask me how much of my life did I waste thinking about Popeye continuity, and it’s not going to go well.

§ June 27th, 2016 § Filed under popeye § 5 Comments

So in a collection I recently purchased for my store (that store being Sterling Silver Comics, located in beautiful Camarillo, CA) there were a couple of really beat-up copies of the 1970s Charlton Popeye comics. I haven’t been actively collecting those for myself, but occasionally they do fall into my hands and, thus, into what remains of the Vast Mikester (Personal) Comic Archives.

George Wildman was the cartoonist responsible for these particular comics I obtained, and was in fact responsible for most, if not all, of the Charlton Popeye run. (A quick look at the Grand Comics Database listing for the series doesn’t note credits for lead stories in some of the books, but I’m pretty sure Wildman did a lot of them.) Mr. Wildman, by the way, did pass on just recently, and I direct you to this obituary by Mark Evanier. Looks like Mr. Wildman drew a lot of fun comic books, and the Popeye comics of his that I’ve read are just close enough to the original strips to be recognizably Popeye-esque, but usually with a completely bonkers and anarchic feel to the proceedings to make them their own unique experience.

In any case, I was reading one of these Popeyes (specifically issue #124 from July 1974), in which Wimpy and Popeye are called out to a remote island estate to investigate a haunting, where I happened upon this great full-page splash that I just had to share:

Now admittedly, I’ve only read a handful of the Charlton Popeyes, but I don’t recall too many full-page drawings in them. I especially like this one, with its spooky ambience and the stairs winding through the cliffside. It’s the sort of picture I probably would have spent an inordinate amount of time studying and imagining about as a child.

Now, there is a ghost in this story, but not the one Popeye and Wimpy were called out to initially bust. Turns out Patcheye and his faithful ghost parrot Matey were on this estate, trapped in a bottle:

Yes, he’s identified as Popeye’s grandfather, and the fact they recognize each other right off made me wonder where he’s appeared before, since I’m not familiar with the character. A quick search shows that he first popped up in issue #67 of the Popeye comics from Gold Key, back in 1963…in a story by E.C. Segar’s successor Bud Sagendorf, no less. Now, that database listing has Patcheye as Popeye’s great-grandfather, which I think I’m a little more comfortable with, but regardless, if Sagendorf put him in the comic, I will consider that at least B-Level Canon in the Expanded Popeye Universe. Hopefully IDW’s Popeye reprint program will get this far into the comics so I don’t have to search out the originals!

Another cute gag is this callback to Popeye’s first appearance in comics:

You can see the original strip on this page for comparison.

Oh, and I just flipped through the other Popeye comic I had here (#123 from November 1973) and it turns out there are two full-page images in this comic, face to face, as the last two panels of a story:

pop123yy pop123zz

Maybe splashes like this during this particular period of Popeye books were more common than I realized. Clearly the only answer is tracking down all the rest of the issues for myself and doing a complete survey. I’ll let you know how that goes.

5 Responses to “When I die, Saint Peter is going to ask me how much of my life did I waste thinking about Popeye continuity, and it’s not going to go well.”

  • Bill D. says:

    The Fawcett Dennis the Menace comics (particularly those by Al Wiseman and Fred Toole) have a similar vibe… still enough of the original characters and concepts to be recognizable, but also different enough that it’s a completely new experience (seeing as Dennis in the newspapers was a gag panel any expansion would feel different, I suppose, but still). Also, a surprising number of intricate full page splashes, most notably in the giant travel comics (the Hawaii issue is a particularly good example of this).

  • Daren F says:

    I suspect a young Peter Bagge stared at the lettering style for “Boris! Boris!” A lot.

  • Jack says:

    That first splash of the house is gorgeous, and I too likely would’ve spent a ton of time as a kid looking at that page.

  • Casie says:

    Oh man! I’m with you and Jack on the house and it’s many pretty steps. Beautiful! Great read, Mike! Now I want to find all of these! :)

  • Jason Wheeler says:

    “I suspect a young Peter Bagge stared at the lettering style for “Boris! Boris!” A lot.”

    agreed! it looks exactly like his lettering!