Popeye the Sailor Man is a cartoon fictional character created by Elzie Crisler Segar, who has appeared in comic strips and theatrical and television animated cartoons. He first appeared in the daily King Features comic strip Thimble Theatre on January 17, 1929; Popeye became the strip's title in later years. Although Segar's Thimble Theatre strip was in its tenth year when Popeye made his debut, the sailor quickly became the main focus of the stripand Thimble Theatre became one of King Features' most popular properties during the 1930s. The strip continues to appear in first-run installments in its Sunday edition, written and drawn by Hy Eisman. The daily strips are reprints of old Sagendorf stories.
In 1933, Max and Dave Fleischer's Fleischer Studios adapted the Thimble Theatre characters into a series of Popeye the Sailor theatrical cartoon shorts for Paramount Pictures. These cartoons proved to be among the most popular of the 1930s, and the Fleischers—and later Paramount's own Famous Studios—continued production through 1957. The shorts are now owned by Turner Entertainment, a subsidiary of Time Warner, and distributed by sister company Warner Bros. Entertainment. Over the years, Popeye has also appeared in comic books, television cartoons, arcade and video games, hundreds ofadvertisements and peripheral products and a 1980 live-action film directed by Robert Altman that starred comedian Robin Williams as Popeye.In 2002, TV Guide ranked Popeye #20 on its "50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time" list.
Elzie Crisler Segar (December 8, 1894 – October 13, 1938) known professionally as E.C. Segar was an Americancartoonist, best known as the creator of Popeye. Segar was born on 8 December 1894, and raised in Chester, Illinois, a small town near the Mississippi River. The son of a handyman, his earliest work experiences includedassisting 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 the Chester Opera House, where he also did live performances. 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."
Debuting 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.
After prolonged illness, Segar died ofleukemia 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 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 award was discontinued in 1999. In 2012, writer Roger Langridge and cartoonist Bruce Ozella teamed to revive the spirit of Segar in their four-issue limited series,Popeye, published by IDW.
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