Well blow me down! Looks like IDW brought Popeye to the masses in a new series by Roger Langridge and Bruce Ozella.

Writer: Roger Langridge
Artist: Bruce Ozella
Colorist: Luke McDonnel
Letterer: Bruce Ozella
Editors: Ted Adams, Craig Yoe, Clizia Gussoni
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Popeye: Created by E.C. Segar, Popeye the Sailor appeared in comic strips and animated cartoons as part of King Features Thimble Theatre. Popeye debuted in 1929, and since then, the character has appeared in comic books, television cartoons, video games, a live action movie, and now back to comics with IDW Publishing.


My grandparents collected old comic strips, so growing up I was no stranger to early Peanuts, Family Circus, Dennis the Menace, Gasoline Alley, and even Popeye the Sailor. I was familiar with the “rest of the Thimble Theatre” cast long before Robert Altman attempted to make a movie adaptation of the characters. So, when IDW’s Popeye landed on my comic stack this past week, I was really expecting a watered down version of the character similar to what the animation studios did to the one-eyed sailor in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

What I got was a story fairly faithful to the original strips. Granted, when Segar’s strips originally ran, the stories would transition from one major arc to the other in a meandering way, but Roger Langridge takes what made the stories fun, and whips up something new for readers. Here, Popeye, Olive Oyl, her brother Castor, and Wimpy head off to find a playmate, and potential mate for Eugene the Jeep. Castor, always looking to make a buck, believes if he can breed Jeeps he’ll be rich, rich, rich!

Of course it never works out that way, which means Langridge needs to throw obstacles at the heroes. I was never a big fan of Bluto, but after Fleischer made the nemesis synonymous with Popeye, it seems you can’t have one without the other. Fortunately, Langridge takes the brute and reduces him to a role similar to Redbeard the Pirate in the Asterix tales – something that causes a bit of a hiccup in the adventure, but really nothing to worry about. Instead, the real menace is The Sea Hag, who whipped up the entire Jeep scheme just to lure the crew to the island to deal with them once and for all.

It’s a fun story, and if one gets into the newspaper comic strip mentality while reading, they’ll see that each page stands as a single installment one might see each Sunday. I really do like this story telling, though seeing collected like this could make reading awkward for some.


There have been a number of artists who have aped Segar’s style since the creator’s death in 1938, and most have been able to keep the style in check. Ozella continues to keep the characters faithful to the original, without taking them too far into the modern slick style that graced many a piece of merchandise when I was working on my master’s degree. It isn’t as rough as the original, but it is the spirit that counts.

BOTTOM LINE: If you are a fan, you already picked up this book

Popeye certainly isn’t for everyone. There are those that think the antics of the characters to be mundane and long past their shelf life. I think you have to be a real fan of Thimble Theatre to appreciate and love everything that has gone into this book, but it is clear Langridge takes a property and treats it with respect to the original creator. It would be great if IDW Publishing had dropped the cover price by a couple of bucks to draw even more to the title, but I understand the need to properly license and pay for a property. This book isn’t an endless stream of spinach swallowing and fighting with Bluto. The humor is subtle and the tale is fun, earning Popeye #1 4 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. April 30, 2012 at 1:14 am — Reply

    Know what’s funny? This is the second number one issue I’ve seen this year with a cover homaging Action Comics #1. The first was Honey Badger #1.

    Come to think of it, hey Antarctic Press! Not that I care all that much, but is there going to be a second issue of the Honey Badger comic, or did you mark it as a first issue just for the hell of it? Cause I need to know whether I should be looking out for it or not.

  2. SpiderLover
    May 1, 2012 at 12:10 am — Reply

    I think I’ll have to pick this up in a nod to the man that made me want to eat spinach.

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