popeyeyoe popeyeyoe

New Book Round-Up

Haven’t posted a book review in a while, and I’m pleased to report I have several new acquisitions that are well-worth talking about.

First up, another great Craig Yoe IDW hard-cover comics compilation that I’d be raving about even if I didn’t write a brief introduction for it or have my picture in it. Popeye, The Great Comic Book Tales is a perfect companion to the excellent Segar Popeye volumes presently available. This book takes a look at the other great Popeye cartoonist, E.C. Segar’s successor, Bud Sagendorf. These are selected comic book stories from 1948 through 1957 and they are what I personally consider Popeye in his prime. That may be because I grew up reading this Popeye, so I have a particularly soft spot for Sagendorf’s version – which comes off as a combination of Segar, Fleischer, Famous Studios and a unique brand of lunacy that was Sagendorf’s own; the fact that he was a terrific cartoonist and hilarious storyteller only adds the fun. Stories here include Popeye’s battles with Jetoe (“The Champeen Fighter of the Planet Mars!”), The Sea Hag and the “Misermites”; The time he ate “Shrink Weed” and washes with “Spinach Soap”… and years ahead of Seinfeld, Sagendorf places Popeye in a story about “Nothing”! As usual Yoe starts off with 15 pages of unique one-eye sailor man introductory matter which includes rare press material and photographs – and the book itself is a beautiful production, a pleasure to look at, hold and display. It’s really good – and has my highest endorsement. Get it today!

I am a huge fan of this year’s Oscar-winning short, The Lost Thing. Scholastic has just released Shaun Tan’s original short story from which the film was based, along with two other tales illustrated by Tan (originally published separately in Australia between 1998 and 2001) in a wonderful new hardcover book. A girl finds a bright spot in a dark world; a boy leads a strange, lost creature home; and a group of peaceful creatures lose their home to cruel invaders. Three brilliantly visual fantasy tales, and a book that is itself a dazzling work of art. See for yourself – here’s a sample spread. The book is called Lost & Found and its a genuine winner.

Didier Ghez‘ ongoing series of Disney artist interviews, Walt’s People, is one of the all-time great projects of animation history and Disney scholarship. In each edition, Ghez rounds up a dozen-or-two interviews with the animators, writers, filmmakers and other Disney collaborators, famous and infamous, in published or unpublished pieces by noted historians, self-publishing a 300-plus page paperback loaded with new information and insights. His latest volume, just out, Volume 10 contains over 40 interviews by Bob Thomas – conducted in researching his 1976 biography of Walt. Interviewees include Ub Iwerks, Dick Huemer, Wilfred Jackson, Ward Kimball, Frank Thomas, Milt Kahl and on and on, including Disney himself, all in their own words. Jim Korkis provides additional insights and Diane Disney Miller contributes a Foreword. These volumes are vital to all who care about animation and how Disney created his world.
And finally, I want to give a shout-out to two animators who have just published new books that will certainly enrich their target audiences:

Celebrated animator and now educator Tony White preaches the gospel of 2D hand drawn every single day. He’s written several “How to” books and his latest is a bit different, but just as practical. It’s called Jumping Through Hoops, The Animation Job Coach and its essentially the primer for the aspiring animation artist. How to choose a great school; How to build a portfolio, find your first job and how to keep it – these are the topics Tony explores and discusses in frank, realistic terms. If you are just starting out – you should read this book.

Animator and character designer Brianne Drouhard (Batman Brave and Bold, Ben 10, etc), aka potatofarmgirl, has her first children’s book just out: Billie The Unicorn. It’s filled with gorgeous drawings of the type that used to be animated – this would have made a great TV special 25 years ago. In fact, it would make a great kids special or short childrens film today. I hope Brianne can figure that out – but until then, her new book will keep you and the small ones quite entertained.

  • Gray64

    Bud Sagendorf’s Popeye is the one I remember best, too. In my case, I read reprints by Western Publishing in the early ’80’s. The first one I ever got was “The Plot to Kill Popeye,” a very atmospheric story in which Kid Mustard and his two goons, Burt and Curt, show up at Roughouse’s diner in the middle of the night to wait for Bluto so they can plot…well, you get the idea (I had never heard of Kid Mustard when I read it–I was 5–and thought it was hysterical that the Kid hated Popeye so passionately while Popeye could barely remember who he was) Sagendorf was a true master storyteller. I’ve never read a story he did that wasn’t at least entertaining.

  • victoria

    Yes I am awaiting my copy of Billie the Unicorn!

  • MeanGene

    The Sagendorf Popeye collection looks very interesting. It reminds me – what ever happened to the Popeye DVDs? Did WB give up on restoring the rest of the old Popeye cartoons? I thought they were going to issue all of the Popeyes’ – even the lame Al Brodax ones.

  • david

    billie the unicorn!

  • FleischerFan

    I picked up the Popeye volume and was greatly pleased! Not only is the reproduction excellent and the choice of stories outstanding, but the introductory material by Craig features some little seen artwork by Sagendorf. I have long championed this under-appreciated comic genius. It is so nice to see him finally get his day in the sun.

    Oh yeah, the intro by you wasn’t bad either, Jerry! Arf! Arf!

    • R.J. Laaksonen

      Has the newspaper Popeye of Tom Sims and Bill Zaboly ever been available in book form? It was closer to Segar’s Popeye than the Sagendorf stuff, I think, both the stories and art.

  • Jerry,

    Thanks again for your excellent book recommendations. These really do help us out with collection development at the library for the Ringling College of Art and Design. Our animation and comics sections are getting to truly awesome in quality and selection and your book reviews are a big part of that.

  • thanks jerry and all! there hasn’t been a zaboly collection. sagendorf is a special genius and his long form stories from comic books can’t be beat. surreal, silly, satisfying–and jhe was a hdck of a nice guy! i also met zaboly when i was a kid in 1969. drove my honda to cleveland from akron to try and talk him into teaching me to draw popeye-style. he looked at this hippie with hair down to his ass and threw me out his door. i’ll never do a collection of his comics!

  • Thank you for the review Jerry! Currently, Billie is not in development anywhere, but thank you for the support!
    It looks like I have a lot of new books to pick up this month. Especially now that I’m starting to have free time for reading again! ^o^

  • Ignatz the Brick Pitcher

    Man, oh, man! Craig Yoe’s new book on Sagendorf’s POPEYE comic books is a beauty. I could examine each page for hours on end. Absolutely beautiful cartooning!

    Sagendorf, apprentice and protege to the originator Segar, captured the essence and consummately imitated the style of the 1930s newspaper edition of Popeye comics.

    Man, oh, man! Just when I thought Segar’s successors lacked the capacity to fill his shoes, this book proved otherwise. Hats off to Yoe and his production staff.