Gift Guide

Popeye, Volume 1: "I Yam What I Yam"


This series collects the complete run of Segar's comic strip Thimble Theatre (dailies and color Sundays) featuring Popeye. This striking volume, covering 1928-1930, follows his first adventures. These strips are masterpieces of comic invention.
Fantagraphics' Popeye series 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 ...
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This series collects the complete run of Segar's comic strip Thimble Theatre (dailies and color Sundays) featuring Popeye. This striking volume, covering 1928-1930, follows his first adventures. These strips are masterpieces of comic invention.
Fantagraphics' Popeye series 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. The series will consist of six volumes released annual through 2011.
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; and 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
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Editorial Reviews

“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.”
Edmonton Journal
“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.”
The Fort Worth Business Press
“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.”
Greg McElhatton - Read About Comics
“Popeye Vol. 1 would be enthralling if only for the change in the Thimble Theatre order of things, letting the reader watch as a new character takes over and reshapes the strip into his own image. Fortunately, what it's turned into is a thoroughly fun adventure strip that made me eager for more... There are so many fun newspaper reprint projects going on right now that it's easy to miss a lot of them. Now that I know how good Popeye is, I'm making it a priority to read the rest.”
Jules Feiffer
“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.”
Art Spiegelman
“I think of Thimble Theatre as blue-collar Beckett.”
Charles M. Schulz
“The perfect comic strip.”
John Hodgman
What Castor doesn’t seem to notice is that Popeye eventually stops going back to the docks. Suddenly he’s living with the Oyls, moving in on Olive’s affection and taking over the whole strip. Within a year, the sheer force of his “personaliky” would cast the decade’s worth of “Thimble Theatre” strips that preceded him so thoroughly into the realm of trivia that they aren’t even collected here. In some ways this is precisely the bit of lost history Deitch hopes to preserve: scanned from original newspaper clippings that otherwise had been yellowing somewhere or another, this book documents not only the birth of a great American comic character, but also, in a smaller measure, the death of a great straight man.
— The New York Times
Library Journal

In 1929, Segar introduced into his ten-year-old newspaper strip Thimble Theatrea character who became one of the most popular figures ever to emerge from comics: Popeye the sailor man. Then, after a five-month adventure that saw Popeye shrug off 16 bullet wounds, Segar wrote the sailor out of the story. But the public would have none of it, so Popeye was quickly reinstated and has remained ever since. This is the first volume in a set of six oversized hardcovers reprinting every Thimble Theatrestrip from Popeye's introduction until Segar's death in 1938. Segar's Popeye, a rough and ready strongman, is a wonderfully colorful character: tempestuous, loyal, superstitious, and clueless about women, throwing punches at every opportunity and busting out of jail repeatedly. His distinctive speech pattern is a joy. But the only mention here of a certain leafy green plant is in the name of a minor character, Miss Spinich (sic). Fantagraphics previously collected these strips in an out-of-print ten-volume series, but this new edition prints the Sunday strips in color. Segar was a remarkble cartoonist and an inventive storyteller, and these classic adventures are strongly recommended for all libraries.
—Steve Raiteri

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560977797
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 11/27/2006
  • Series: Popeye Series
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 458,608
  • Product dimensions: 10.50 (w) x 14.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

E.C. Segar (1894-1938), creator of Popeye, is a member of the Will Eisner Awards Hall of Fame. He was born in Chester, IL in 1894 and passed away in his longtime home of Santa Monica, CA. The National Cartoonists Society created the Elzie Segar Award in his honor, which was awarded annually to a cartoonist who has made a unique and outstanding contribution to the profession.
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