Rating: 5 / 5 – Must Read!!
Popeye is a thoroughly American character that has found success in a variety of media. Originating in E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theater newspaper strips, he has also starred in film, television and previous comic book adaptation. The current series from IDW returns to the cast and feel of those old newspaper strips. This brings back a few of the original elements such as Castor Oyl (Olive’s brother) and the Road-House Cafe. Series writer Roger Langridge has those characters lifted right from the strips and placed neatly into a comic book format. The strips at times tended to stretch a few storylines and also had significant recaps (as expected in a daily newspaper strip), so here the narrative style was altered to fit the monthly comic book format. There have been a rotating cast of artists and all have ably conveyed the classic looks. Each issue has been a stand-alone adventure, often with a back-up feature.
For those unfamiliar, Popeye is a spinach-eating sailor who is feared for his fighting skills with a strong sense of honor and a confused method of speech. He has an unlikely supporting cast of equally unusual cohorts. Issue 11 is a single, complete story with art by Vince Musacchia. In this issue we have Bluto (a rival that Popeye has fought previously) as a magician with a traveling circus act who has designs on Olive Oyl (Popeye’s love interest). I will refrain from too much exposition although the fun for the reader is in the getting there. While the characters tend to speak in common slang, Popeye himself speaks in his own selection of mispronounced vernacular spelled out phonetically in his word balloons. This is probably the biggest barrier to making the book truly an all ages comic but I think many will find it fun sounding out his dialogue. In this issue there is one small visual gag in part of a panel with a gentleman’s eyeline focused on a lady’s assets (all in service of a joke) and cartoon violence but certainly far more family friendly than most other books I can recall.
Humor is always subjective, but even to the extent that one doesn’t find this funny, anyone should be able to appreciate the craft. There is sufficient plot that is served by the jokes along the way. The creative team also finds the time to put many small touches buried within the book. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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