Monday, January 8, 2018

Popeye The Seller!

Popeye the Sailor Man has proven to be one of the most durable characters in the now longish history of comics. The character of course debuted in Thimble Theater in 1929 under the hand of his creator Elzie Segar. Popeye quickly took over that strip and then became an animated sensation under the hand of the Fleisher Studios. When Segar passed away the strip was taken on by a host of folks, but eventually it came under the guidance of Bud Sagendorf in 1959. Sagendorf came to the character with a wealth of experience because he had been the guiding hand of the comic book from Dell Comics for over a decade at that point. Popeye appeared as a comic book for a few publishers but in 1948 Sagendorf's version found steady footing at Dell and ran for fourteen years.



The Sagendorf comic shifted over to Gold  Key Comics when Western Publishing broke from Dell and Popeye continued for several years under the handsome Gold Key brand.


In 1966 King Features launched its famous characters into a comic book line which ran for just about a year or so. Popeye, along with The Phantom, Flash Gordon, and Mandrake the Magician was a part of this initiative.

King Features ended the comic book experiment in 1967 leaving Popeye without a publisher for a short time in its venerable run.

In stepped Charlton Comics and artist George Wildman who brought the title back in 1969. Sagendorf was concentrating on the comic strip exclusively at this point.

Wildman, who went on to become the editor of Charlton Comics, was the guiding hand of Popeye's comic book adventures for most of the next decade when finally in early 1977. He was assisted by Charlton workhorse Joe Gill and the talented writer Nicola Cuti.

The same talents with the addition of Bill Pearson continued on the title as it moved back to the folks at Gold Key which published the title under both the Gold Key and Whitman labels in 1978.

Popeye the comic book series ended with its one hundredth and seventy-first issue in 1984 when the final Gold Key/Whitman issues was released. That adds up to thirty-six years of Popeye comics from a wide array of publishers.

Yoe Books and IDW Publishing collaborated to launch a reprint series of the earliest Popeye comics from Dell in 2012 and I eagerly jumped aboard as it left the dock. It apparently has proven to be quite a sales success.

That is evidenced by the fact that now, five years later we have the final Dell comic reprinted and in stores. What will become of the series at this point is unknown to me, but frankly I'd love to see the series continue capturing new stories from the Gold Key, King Features, and Charlton years. The George Wildman material deserves a larger audience. Maybe it will happen, because it has been proven time and again that Popeye is a reliable seller on the stands.

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  1. Bud Sagendorf's experience also included a stint as Segar's assistant while a highschooler in Santa Monica.

    Roger Langridge's original Popeye stories done with various artists for IDW were also great.

    Thanks for this terrific Popeye entry !

    1. I was not so taken by the new stuff from IDW from a few years back, but by and large I do like Landridge's material when he draws his own stuff. His Fred the Clown stuff is a hoot. Sagendorf's Popeye has the awesome antics of the original Segar stuff but adds a bit of warmth to my eye. Thanks for the kind words.

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