Today is the birthday of E.C. Segar (December 8, 1894 – October 13, 1938).
Elzie Crisler Segar was an American cartoonist, best known as the creator of Popeye, a character who first appeared in 1929 in his comic strip Thimble Theatre. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest it was "SEE-gar". He commonly signed his work simply Segar or E. Segar above a drawing of a cigar.
Segar was born and raised in Chester, Illinois, a small town near the Mississippi River. The son of a handyman, his earliest work experiences included assisting his father in house painting and paper hanging. Skilled at playing drums, he also provided musical accompaniment to films and vaudeville acts in the local theater, where he was eventually given the job of film projectionist. At age 18, he decided to become a cartoonist. He took a correspondence course in cartooning from W.L. Evans of Cleveland, Ohio. He said that after work he "lit up the oil lamps about midnight and worked on the course until 3 a.m."
Segar moved to Chicago where he met Richard F. Outcault, creator of The Yellow Kid and Buster Brown. Outcault encouraged him and introduced him at the Chicago Herald. On March 12, 1916, the Herald published Segar's first comic, Charlie Chaplin's Comedy Capers, which ran for a little over a year. In 1918, he moved on to William Randolph Hearst's Chicago Evening American where he created Looping the Loop. Segar married Myrtle Johnson that year; they had two children.
Here is a sample of Segar's artwork which was published in Charlie Chaplin's Funny Stunts that was published by M.A. Donohue in 1917.
Evening American Managing editor William Curley thought Segar could succeed in New York, so he sent him to King Features Syndicate, where Segar worked for many years. He began by drawing Thimble Theatre for the New York Journal. The strip made its debut on December 19, 1919, featuring the characters Olive Oyl, Castor Oyl and Horace Hamgravy, whose name was quickly shortened in the strip to simply "Ham Gravy". They were the strip's leads for about a decade. In January 1929, when Castor Oyl needed a mariner to navigate his ship to Dice Island, Castor picked up an old salt down by the docks named Popeye. Popeye's first line in the strip, upon being asked if he was a sailor, was "'Ja think I'm a cowboy?" The character stole the show and became the permanent star. Some of the other notable characters Segar created include J. Wellington Wimpy and Eugene the Jeep.
The Great Big Popeye Book (Introducing Eugene the Jeep)
Popeye and His Jungle Pet
Legacy and reprints
After prolonged illness, Segar died of leukemia and liver disease at the age of 43. Segar is widely regarded as one of the most influential and talented cartoonists of all time, among the first to combine humor with long-running adventures. A revival of interest in Segar's creations began with Woody Gelman's Nostalgia Press. Robert Altman's live-action film Popeye (1980) is adapted from E. C. Segar's Thimble Theatre comic strip. The screenplay by Jules Feiffer was based directly on Gelman's Thimble Theatre Starring Popeye the Sailor, a hardcover reprint collection of 1936-37 Segar strips published in 1971 by Nostalgia Press. In 2006, Fantagraphics published the first of a planned six-volume book set reprinting all Thimble Theatre daily and Sunday strips from 1928–38, beginning with the adventure that introduced Popeye.
In 1971, the National Cartoonists Society created the Elzie Segar Award in his honor. According to the Society's website, the award was "presented to a person who has made a unique and outstanding contribution to the profession of cartooning." The NCS board of directors chose the first winners, while King Features selected recipients in later years. Honorees have included Charles Schulz, Bil Keane, Al Capp, Bill Gallo and Mort Walker. The award was discontinued in 1999.
WANTED: Original artwork to "THE BARKER" and "SPUDO" strips that appeared in NATIONAL COMICS 42-75 and THE BARKER 1-15.
I am a big fan of Popeye but mostly because of the CKLW TV show that broadcast the cartoons in the late fifties. I didn't discover the real Popeye until I read reprints of Segar's work. Photo is from Click I think.
Today is Leigh Brackett’s birthday (1915-1978) and she is perhaps the most under-rated SF writer of the GA.
She was Howard Hawks screenwriter for the second half of his career. I just watched Rio Bravo on Blu-ray Thanksgiving week and it was a real pleasure seeing it in such pristine condition.
I also had a John Wayne fix this past weekend. I caught The Searchers on AMC.
The Searchers is loosely based on the story of the Parker family killing, although the real story is far more interesting. Cynthia was not rescued but stayed and married a Commanche. She wasn't found until 24 years later and was forced against her will to rejoin her relatives. Her son, Quanah, became the last chief of the Commanches.