Thursday, January 05, 2017

Popeye, Vols. 2 and 3 by Roger Langridge and others

I don't know if Roger Langridge's faithful homage to E.C. Segar absolutely required the great six-volume Fantagraphics reprint of Segar's strips to exist, but it certainly didn't hurt. Langridge pulls back in all of the complications and oddities and quirks of Segar that the Popeye comics and cartoons of the past seventy years had simplified or stripped out -- Sappo and Professor O.A. Wotasnozzle, Ham Gravy, Alice the Goon and the Sea Hag, Geezil and Toar and Rough-House's restaurant -- and tells his own stories in a mode much closer to Segar than most of the Popeye that the last three generations have been used to.

These two books -- Popeye, Vol. 2 and Popeye, Vol. 3 -- each collect four issues of the recent Popeye comic. Each issue has one or two standalone stories, with a rotating crew of artists: Langridge draws one story in each book himself, and is ably joined by Bruce Ozella, Vince Musacchia and Ken Wheaton for the art in the other stories.

These comics aren't exactly for kids, but they're not not for kids, either -- some parents will look askance at the violence inherent in any true Popeye story, but Langridge works as family-friendly as Segar did, telling accessible stories with colorful characters without dumbing anything down. Sure, most kids won't recognize Barney Google (who makes a guest appearance in one story in Vol. 2), but most adults will only have the very vaguest idea of who he is, too.

I don't want to go too far; these are silly comics stories about boxing and horse races and giant ants and ventriloquism and movies and other similar hooks for gags. But they're smart silly comics stories with an understanding of the past of this particular comics universe and the larger field of strip comics, told in snappy dialogue and a selection of zippy energetic art styles.


Robert Wolfe said...

Hi, what happened to Popeye, Vol 1?
Is it available/in print?


Andrew Wheeler said...

Robert: Yes! I reviewed it last year in a round-up, and forgot to link it here.

Sadly, there does not seem to be a Popeye Vol. 4 or later.

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