Monday, July 16, 2012

Seven thoughts about IDW's Popeye#1

Thought#1: My background with the Popeye franchise amounts to experiencing some of the animated programs, comic books and singular live action film while growing up. I'm not very knowledgeable about the Thimble Theatre comic strip he originated from. It was the name of writer Roger Langridge which brought me to IDW's Popeye#1, rather than any fondness for the characters. Certainly, a cover homaging Action Comics#1 doesn't hurt at implying the audience's familiarity/affection for Popeye by likening him to Superman.

Thought#2: Even so, I recognized characters including Popeye, Olive Oyl, Swee'Pea, Wimpy, Alice the Goon, Bluto, the Jeep and the Sea Hag. I'm not sure if I had ever seen Olive's brother Castor Oyl before, although I'm certain I had heard something about hhim.

Thought#3: With so many of the Popeye franchise characters present and bearing in mind IDW originally announced this as a limited series, I wonder if Langridge and artist Bruce Ozella wanted to maximize what they assumed was a time-sensitive opportunity to indulge in the Popeye universe. Consequently, they've placed their best foot forward in the first issue which is exactly what a first issue should be!

Thought#4: In spite of my limited background with Popeye, I knew enough to recognize his first line of dialogue in Popeye#1 ("D'ja think I'm a cowboy?") is a play on the first words he spoke in Thimble Theatre. The things I've retained from years of comic book quizzes!

Thought#5: Then there's the sequence where Wimpy devours a whole shark in a manner very similar to the infamous strip where Wimpy devours a whole cow. What's great about references such as these is they aren't necessary to enjoy the story but are immensely rewarding for those of us in the know. There are probably other references to classic Popeye characters and situations I know nothing about, but I was never made to feel like an outsider.

Thought#6: Speaking of Wimpy, it wasn't until I read Langridge's take on J. Wellington Wimpy that I suddenly realized the protagonist of his Boom! series Snarked - one Wilburforce J. Walrus - is clearly an homage to Wimpy. Both wield their vocabularies to ingratiate and deceive others, wear derby hats, dislike violence and are friendly, but ultimately self-serving.

Thought#7: Interest in Langridge was enough to secure a sale of issue #1; the stunning art by Ozella and fun dialogue by Langridge was enough to ensure I'd be back for issue #2; IDW's Popeye is now one of the most pleasant comic books I'm reading.

1 comment:

Colin Smith said...

It's great, isn't it? As the Big Two continue their race towards utter irrelevancy, the rest of the market just keeps throwing up great books.

I missed this in my list of Golden Age 2012 comics. I regret it and I intend to put the matter right.

Great piece, really enjoyed the walk-through.