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Popeye Comics Get Cool

Sometimes we don’t realize something is cool until months or years go by and then we catch up with it. There’s something going on right now that’s pretty darn cool and I want to call your attention to – because I wouldn’t want you to pay any inflated ebay “collectors” prices later on.

Craig Yoe and Clizia Gussoni have been doing two wonderful Popeye comic book series for IDW Publishing. One is a mini-series of 12 original issues. The other is a series reprinting Bud Sagendorf’s great 1940s-50s comic book run. Sagendorf was the long-time assistant to the creator of Popeye, Elzie Segar, and his comics are just as classic.

Yoe tells us:

“We are finishing up the acclaimed Popeye mini-series, and we’ll go out with a goggley-eyed bang when Popeye meets Barney Google. One of the most popular aspects has been the variant covers by celeb artists. So we are now going to continue that aspect in our reprints of the hilarious Bud Sagendorf’s Popeye classic Comics.

We are ecstatic that the first Popeye Classic variant cover will be by the justly famed New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast. We’re looking for other awesome artists who want to do a variant cover and welcome people from the animation community–Matt Groening, Craig McCracken, Ralph Bakshi, Tim Burton, Genndy Tartakovsky–are you listening? Lesser luminaries are welcome to submit ideas, too–if they’re good we’ll use them!”

I can’t speak highly enough about these comic books. They are produced with a proper amount of respect for Segar/Sagendorf’s original canon, gently updated to play perfectly as contemporary adventures. A perfect package – topped off with a bonus: the guest cover artists. Below is a gallery of covers by some of those guest artists (click thumbnail to enlarge image) – its a blast to see Popeye interpreted by a who’s-who of respected artisans.

Top Row (left to right): The variant cover to Popeye Classic #8 by Roz Chast; Cover by Bruce Ozella and variant by Jules Feiffer for Popeye #1; Variant for Popeye #2 by Tony Millionaire.

Middle Row (left to right): Cover by Tom Neely and variant by Dean Yeagle for Popeye #3; Variant by Seymour Chwast for Popeye #4; Variant by Shawn Dickinson for Popeye #8.

Bottom Row (left to right): Variant by Al Jaffee for Popeye #9 (not in stores yet); Variant by Craig Yoe for Popeye #10 (not in stores yet); Variant by Mitch O’Connell for Popeye #11 (not in stores yet); Cover by Roger Langridge for the final issue with Barney Google cross-over, Popeye #12 (not in stores yet).

Buy these books! Highly recommended!

  • Popeye was always cool.

  • Nik

    I’ll have to check into the Yoe comics and also the Sagendorf reprints. Thanks! I know that there’s still many fans of Betty Boop, but I’m glad that people are still able to relate to the grizzled old sailor. :)

    Also, I hope that some day Bobby London is given proper recognition for his excellent work on the Popeye comic strip from 1986-92. London’s Popeye comics were quite funny and very true to the original Segar comics. It’s still a shame about how London lost his job writing/drawing Popeye (King Features got complaints about a storyline involving Olive Oyl and a misunderstanding that suggested she wanted an abortion–I’ve never seen a comic strip ended so abruptly).

  • MP

    The dialogue is spot on. I only have the first one, need to get the rest.

  • thanks so very, very much Jjerry/cartoon brew!! BTW, all this popeye wonderfulness could not be possible without our esteemed co-editor, ted adams–dude eats his spinach! –craig and clizia p.s. artists wanting to do a cover can contact me at yoecomix (at) hotmail (dot) com

  • Barney Google?

  • akira

    man, i’d seriously love a book drawn as well as the cover by Shawn Dickinson

    • I’d love it if Genndy Tartakovsky’s movie looked as cartoony as this!

  • Brian O.

    Al Jaffee did a great job making me wince from Popeye’s pain. Yowch!

  • dbenson

    Intriguing that Popeye inspired Feiffer and Jaffee to experiment a bit, stepping away from their own instantly recognizable styles yet not aping Segar.

  • I like Sagendorf’s Popeye, but no, his work is not “just as classic” (whatever that means) as Segar’s original run.

  • Very cool… love Popeye!

  • TJR

    I haven’t bought comics in ages….but I HAVE to get these!

  • Paul M

    I like the Shawn Dickinson at the top the best. If I were Genndy, I would start the new movie off with Popeye involved in a bar brawl, after showing everyone drinking and smoking and cursing. Pity it won’t be in black and white.

    • For some reason I kinda get the feeling he may include some part in black and white. I’d love if he did.


    Oh wait, this isn’t the John K. Popeye. ;)

  • F. Loesser

    “Lesser luminaries are welcome”

    Oh, thank goodness for that.

  • Gerard de Souza

    A mini-series? I had no idea. I’m glad I’ve been picking them up although I have not seen many variants. The Dan Yeagle and ane the one illustrating the post are my favorites.

  • Lauren

    Wow. And I thought the Adventure Time comics had awesome covers.

  • Variant covers are nice, but to me the most important thing is the book itself. Both Popeye comics are well worth reading each month, with or without gimmicky covers, and that’s what keeps them on my list each month.

  • Fred Grandinetti

    A mini-series? I thought this would be an on-going monthly? Perhaps Popeye would sell better as a bi-monthly or quarterly as he did during the Dell/Gold Key/King & Charlton days. IDW did a super job with the “new” Popeye. Hope they can continue with one-shots with new stories and art.

  • I have to agree that Sagendorf’s Popeye isn’t “just as classic” as Segar’s. It’s recognizably Popeye, but there’s nothing in it to rival the inventiveness and vigor of the strip’s creator. (Hey, you can’t spell Sagendorf without Segar! What does that mean?)

    I’m also inclined to agree that Bobby London’s Popeye was worthy in its way. London spent years aping earlier cartoonists with single-minded devotion, and such strict imitation that one of his “Dirty Duck” strips ended up on the World Encyclopedia of Comics as a “Krazy Kat” example, because London had copied the original, panel for panel. You could say he spent his entire career preparing for the day he’d be handed Popeye to continue, and to his credit (and my surprise) he put a lot of life into the old franchise! His gags were funny and surprising, and he dealt with the diminished space on the page forthrightly with a two-panel layout that was a little unusual among the many artists still dreaming that three or four panels of something more than a pair of heads getting off zingers at each other were still feasible without going to stick figures or eight-point type. But then he suddenly had to assert his underground heritage by dancing on the edge of the censorship precipice. If he’d come along recently, he could probably have gotten away with it.

    And now they’re reprinting Sagendorf strips from beyond the grave.

  • jcroberts1

    Yow! When I clicked on the first one in the bottom row, I first thought they had gotten a child to draw it. Then I looked down to the signature and saw it was Al Jaffe! And I had just been looking up some old “Snappy Answers” panels just last week.
    I of course realize at his age, you don’t expect as good or better than their prime from any artist, So I’m certainly not saying “What happened?” or anything. Just a bit unsettling for an artist to see the work of an early influenece become unrecognizable.