Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Popeye #1

Is there a stranger character in comics than Popeye the sailor?

The odd-looking bird with the huge forearms and squinty eye started life in the Thimble Theater comic strip (which he quickly took over from the hapless Oyl family) and achieved fame in an endless series of spinach-powereed cartoons.

I've been enjoying the reprints of the original Popeye strips by E. C. Segar (the final volume is finally available), and was also delighted to see this comic appear last Wednesday.

I wasn't sure what to expect, although since Roger Langridge is writing it, I knew it would be entertaining.

It actually feels like a classic Popeye tale that's been unearthed years after its creation. Part of that can be credited to the writing, which captures the (shall we say) unique style of the cast, especially the star.

Part of the credit goes to the art by Bruce Ozella, which manages to capture the classic look of the script. None of the modern techniques are on view - no closeups, odd angles or crazy layouts.

Instead, the art is presented in a straightforward way, looking for all the world like the comic strip in its heyday. I'm not sure if this is Ozella's actual style or if he's mimicking the classics, but it's a delight to see.

Many of the classic characters from the comic strip are here, including Olive Oyl, her brother Castor, Wimpy, the Jeep and even Bluto.

There are lots of clever bits thrown in for long-time comics fans (the cover, for example, is an homage to the first issue of Action Comics).

Lots of fun, some clever twists and cute banter - a great package. Long may it run!

Grade: A


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