Monday, June 9, 2008

Politically Incorrect Segar

E.C. Segar's Sappo, circa 1932
John Sappo is the one in the tie.
Click to enlarge.

One of the pleasures of the lavish Popeye collections from Fantagraphics is the minor strip Sappo, which ran underneath Popeye on the Sunday page.

Sappo is an inventor with a skeptical and outsize wife who likes to kick him around when his wacky machines don't pan out. She's not a likable character, but the uncharacteristic misogynistic violence above would never make the papers today. In fairness, this episode is not typical.

These are rich volumes that provide hours of reading pleasure, and are invaluable learning tools for modern cartoonists.

E.C. Segar apparently predates the word "cartoonist," giving his job title as "pictorial humorist." Sounds to me like Garrison Keillor with art supplies.

Popeye goes on the list with Dick Tracy, Scooge McDuck, Buck Rogers, R. Crumb, Maus, and others as essential reading. To be part of a tradition, you must understand what came before., even if they had nothing to do with the web.