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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:
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.
I’m going to pick up on the prediction commentary next week, since both you and I can probably stand a break from it. But don’t forget to submit your own predictions for this coming year! And in other news, I am my own worst enemy.
In the meantime, I suggest you all run out to your local comics emporium and get yourself a copy of Classic Popeye #6, featuring one of those space-filling prose stories that I’m going to recommend you actually read:
…Not that it’s any pillar of originality or anything…you’ll see the ending coming almost just by looking at that title banner, but the interplay between sweetly devious Swee’Pea and the irascible Poopdeck Pappy is a lot of fun. …Speaking of that banner, is that great or what? It really did make me want to read the story, and now I want to go back and read those previous text pieces I’d ignored.
Also, completely unrelated to anything above, since I mentioned being tempted by those Roy Thomas Presents the Heap hardcovers (reprinting Golden Age stories of a proto-Swamp Thing)…yeah, that bullet was bitten and I put my orders in for all three. I am so, so weak. …I’m also thinking of finally getting around to finishing off my runs of books published by 1970s Atlas, because I don’t have enough comics just piled around the house. (Oddly enough, I was reinspired to do so by a customer of mine filling out his New Universe collection.)
Anyway, I hope you’ll forgive me my brief break in discussing your predictions…I’ll finish up next week. And besides, I posted every day this week so far…what kind of crazy person would post on a blog every day?
from Spinach Greetings! (1960)
And now, from the 1940 Popeye cartoon “Puttin’ on The Act,” Popeye’s three terrifying impressions:
…and Groucho Marx:
A credit both to the makers of this cartoon and to the immortality of these particular performers that their caricatures here are still instantly recognizable to us 72 years later.
Well, most of us, anyway…after finding out a couple of years back that one of my girlfriend’s nieces had never heard of the Three Stooges, and after having one young employee at the shop who’d never heard of Vincent Price, I shouldn’t take anything for granted. I’m sure as generations wear on, general knowledge of these “immortal legends” will increasingly become solely the interest of hobbyists and specialists.
…Though I have a hard time imagining that about Groucho Marx. That hair, nose, and moustache…the glasses and cigar. It’s all so embedded in our culture that I can’t see it ever going away, though I suppose it must. I’m guessing kids play with toy Groucho glasses from discount stores even now, without knowing that they’re inspired by a real person. Well, a character performed by a real person…you know what I mean.
I’m guessing of all these caricatures, it’s Groucho’s that’ll have the greatest chance of outliving knowledge of the actual man. I can see the glasses ‘n’ cigar becoming…well, continuing to be, since they pretty much are already…a generic symbol of “comedy,” but to the point, maybe centuries hence, where folks just think that image represents the idea of humor, with not one of them realizing that there was once a person who wore those glasses and wielded that cigar.
Of course, with the enormous proliferation of reproducible and storable media, it seems unlikely that Groucho and his brothers will be forgotten, but, a thousand years from now, ten thousand, fifty thousand…who knows? Maybe our giant-brained, spindly-limbed descendents will be wearing funny plastic glasses and wagging their cigars at each other, their big fake black eyebrows bobbing up and down, without any idea whom they’re imitating.
Long ago, during a stormy evening whilst at sea, Poopdeck Kidd’s wife gives birth to their child:
And thus does Poopdeck’s son enter the world with the name of “Ugly Kidd,” a handle as unlikely as it is appropriate:
Of course, Ugly would soon be better known to the world by his injury-inspired nickname:
On a related note, the future father of Linus, Lucy and Rerun Van Pelt (and apparent PTA fan) attended Santa Monica High School with Popeye:
from Popeye Special #1 (Summer 1987) by Ron Fortier, Benn Dunn and Bill Pearson
“Whoa! Well, baloney me down!”
from Hospitaliky (1937)
- Reader Garrett points me in the direction of this tableau of horror, featuring Nancy and Sluggo by Jon Vermilyea. Possibly not safe for work, certainly not safe for restful sleep.
- In response to Mr. Spurgeon’s comment about the Classic Popeye book I wrote about on Wednesday…yes, that is really the actual cover of this reprint, the exact cover the original #1 had back in 1948, plus the “Classic Comics” banner, of course. I hope this series achieves its stated goal of reprinting all the Bud Sagendorf comics, but it’s, what, a hundred comics? That seems like quite the challenge, but even if they don’t get all the way to the end, I’ll certainly enjoy what I get.
By the way, I had a person in the comments lament the fact that his retailer doesn’t carry this sort of book. Well, I checked on Diamond’s website Thursday evening, and Classic Popeye #1 is still available for reorder, so march on in to your shop, tell ’em “I want one copy of Classic Popeye #1, Diamond order number JUN120397, please” and all it takes is a phone call, email, or visit to the reorders section on the Diamond retailer site, and they should be able to get it for you. While supplies last, of course.
And if your retailer can’t or won’t get it for you, I will. …Again, while supplies last, so act fast!
- Bully the Little Stuffed Bull’s pal John has been doing movie reviews for the past week over at Unseen Films, and this little linkie-thing here should take you right to them. It should also bring up older reviews of his on that site, which you should probably read also. You’d better…I’ll be quizzing you later.
from Popeye #148 (July 1979)
MING DEMANDS MORE GLITTER: a Ming the Merciless iron-on transfer from 1979 that features, yes, glitter. Thanks, Disco Era!
Here’s an old Popeye and Olive pin
, featuring Popeye before the tragic loss of his right eye:
And then there’s this
This belt buckle is delivering a message, and that message is “Batman will traumatize the skulls of criminals…for America
,” which is something we can all
get behind, surely.
Popeye speaks truth, from E.C. Segar’s Popeye
Vol. 4, available from Fantagraphics at finer stores everywhere. Comics don’t get much better than this.
Anyway, in the “if it’s not one thing, it’s another” department: after the website outage last week, I started having intermittent connectivity problems with my ISP this weekend, and I ended up spending time trying to get that resolved instead of working up a post for today. Yes, I know, I’m a terrible blogger. So let me just get a site note or two posted for today, and hopefully things will be back to normal soon.
- A friend of mine on the Twitter referred to me by the user name of “progressiveruin” instead of the name I’ve actually been using (which, oddly enough, is my actual name of “mikesterling”). However, once I saw it, I thought “well, better grab it while it’s available,” so yes, there is now a “progressiveruin” account on Twitter. Currently it’s just an autofeed for new posts on the site so you won’t miss brilliant content like today’s, plus the occasional announcement, but maybe I’ll think of something else to do with it soon. Hey, it’s free, what the hell.
- Speaking of the Twitter, let me remind you again that I’m still contributing to that Fake AP Stylebook thingie. It’s a magical world of wonder and beauty, so please visit.
- You know, for what was basically a simple post about a Batman cartoon, I’ve been getting a lot of discussion on the topic of Batman’s gun usage. Hey, who knew?
On a related note, did people really hate the Batman: Year Two series that much? I thought it was okay at the time, though I have to admit it’s probably been a decade or so since I’ve last read it. And, yeah, Greg brings up a good point about how messed up it is.
- For the love of all that is good and holy, buy stuff through my Amazon links. Especially expensive stuff. Hey, I’m sure your Grandma needs three or four iPods, so get buyin’.
- Er, yeah, comics:
Punishermax #2 – Great comic, but still hate the name. Steve Dillon is probably my favorite Punisher artist, and Jason Aaron is almost out-Ennis-ing Garth Ennis on this.
Citizen Rex #6 – I love these short-run comics Gilbert Hernandez has been doing (this last one with brother Mario). Can’t wait for the next one!
R.E.B.E.L.S. #11 – Have now heard several people who picked up the previous issue for the Blackest Night tie-in describe how surprised they were at how much they liked the comic. Good, because it is a fine comic, despite my own less-than-enthused response to the ongoing Starro storyline. But hopefully some folks will stick around for more issues past the tie-in (though I haven’t seen any recent back issue movement, which may not bode well for new readers, especially on a comic that just started).
- And…er, well, that’s it, really. How are you doing?
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