Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Popeye: The Great Comic Book Tales By Bud Sagendorf" by Craig Yoe

I'll refrain from making the requisite jokes about the speed and frequency that Craig Yoe's books appear and instead praise him for having the same versatile tastes in comic books that I do.

In the past couple of years, Yoe has issued books about "Krazy Kat", "Felix the Cat", Milt Gross, Dick Briefer's "Frankenstein", Dan DeCarlo's "Jetta", Steve Ditko, and compilations of various "kiddie" comics, virtually all I am a fan of.

Here, Yoe does it again with a book called "Popeye: The Great Comic Book Tales By Bud Sagendorf". While on the surface this may not mean much, because surely, haven't their been multiple books reprinting "Popeye"? Well yes, but a goodly amount reprints the comic strips made famous by "Popeye" creator E.C. Segar, and ignores everything else.

Not that this is a problem, mainly because it was Segar's creation. However, Segar died prematurely in 1938 and soon others took over where Segar left off and it would be a shame to completely ignore them. The greatest of these replacements, in mine humble opinion, was Bud Sagendorf.

Strangely, Sagendorf wasn't the initial replacement for Segar on the comic strip. It took many years for that transition to happen, despite Sagendorf being Segar's assistant on the strip, even drawing some of the comic strip's bonus features.

Sagendorf instead, spent his time for many years on the "Popeye" comic book. Many of these comic books have become highly sought-after collector's items, or just plain beat up. Craig Yoe to the rescue!

Yoe has taken some of the best, if not THE best comic book stories of the Sagendorf period and given it his typical "sprucing up", which mean larger reproduction, better paper and also the requisite historical background feature that is absolutely necessary for these volumes to take on true meaning.

No, it is not a slipshod collection of random stories. Stories were selected for their historical significance as well as for their entertainment value from 1948-1957. For those who are snobs who only like Segar, there's the 6-volume series that concludes next year from Fantagraphics, but for those who can accept someone else doing "Popeye", I would highly recommend this (and hopefully subsequent volumes of) the best of the "Popeye" comic book series.

Also recommended are the Fleischer "Popeye" cartoons available on DVD, and (hopefully again, someday) the Famous Studios "Popeye" cartoons.

Ultimately, Sagendorf was and is the most worthy successor to the "Popeye" throne, and Craig Yoe has succeeded well in giving him his due.

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