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Fantagraphics' Popeye will collect the complete run of Segar's Thimble Theatre comic strip (dailies and color Sundays) featuring Popeye, re-establishing Segar as one of the first rank of cartoonists who have elevated the comic strip to art. He was the most popular cartoonist of his day, his sense of humor coming straight out of Mark Twain, who also balanced exaggerated tall tales and a perfect ear for everyday speech with dark themes that undercut his laugh-out-loud stories. In this first volume, covering 1928-1930, Popeye's initial courtship of Olive Oyl takes center stage while Olive's brother Castor Oyl discovers the mysterious Whiffle Hen. Also, the entire cast meets the Sea Hag for the first time in their pursuit of the "Mystery House" (Popeye's first extended daily narrative), and Castor Oyl attempts to turn Popeye into a boxing champion in a series of hilarious Sunday strips. These strips are masterpieces of comic invention. Popeye's omnipotence pre-figures the rise of superheroes in the 1930s and 1940s, though Popeye is a much more sympathetic character, and his very name announces his vibrant personality. His mangled English pulsated with the vital spirit of immigrant America, its rhythm poetic in its own vulgar way: "I yam what I yam and tha's all I yam."
2007 Eisner Award nominee: Best Archival Collection/Project — Strips, Best Publication Design (Jacob Covey)
2007 Harvey Award nominee: Best Domestic Reprint Project; Special Award for Excellence in Presentation
Winner: HOW Magazine Design Merit Awards - Covers
"Popeye, in Segar's vision, was the flawed common man as Walt Whitman might have imagined him, Frank Capra directed him, and Samuel Beckett mixed with Eugene Ionesco were hired to write his dialogue." – Jules Feiffer
"I think of Thimble Theatre as blue-collar Beckett." – Art Spiegelman
"The perfect comic strip." – Charles M. Schulz
"As a physical object it's gorgeous, unnaturally tall and solid and colorful with the dailies in clear black and white and the Sundays in a lovely muted color. The stories within are a-burst with comedy, absurdity, adventure, and charm... No one who loves comic strips should miss this chance to get all this stuff in such a lovely and convenient package." – Reason
"Fantagraphics Books is on a roll of late with their comic strip reprint compilations... A surreal and evocatively drawn title, Segar's Popeye was not only brilliant two-dimensional slapstick comedy and easy to enjoy, the late cartoonist was an artist's artist who inspired everyone and everything from Charles Schulz to The Simpsons." – Edmonton Journal
"The books qualify as near-architectural marvels in their own right — towering, heavyweight packages with die-cut front-cover windows and an interior design that showcases numerous installments of the feature with each two-page spread... The Fantagraphics editions make plain Segar’s mastery of grim suspense and biting humor as essential components of storytelling." – The Fort Worth Business Press