Google is doing one of its birthday tributes to E. C. Segar, creator of Popeye. It’s the 115th anniversary of Segar’s birth. The Guardian has a nice profile:
Popeye the Sailor – who famously attributed his strength “to the finish” to his consumption “of spinach” – first entered the public consciousness in January 1929, in Segar’s newspaper comic strip Thimble Theatre.
The cartoonist was born in Illinois, US, on 8 December 1894, and showed a talent for drawing at a young age. Segar worked as a film projectionist while studying a correspondence course in cartooning, eventually moving to Chicago to pursue his career.
Segar died at the very young age of 43 after a long illness, but not without leaving his mark on the culture. In addition to Popeye and his spinach eating powers, the Army’s workhorse, the Jeep is named after a character in the Popeye strip — Eugene the Jeep — perhaps because soldiers found the new vehicle exhibited the character’s ability to get around in tight spaces. Sounds kind of far-fetched but it’s the preferred etymology. Wimpy and Bluto had similar branding successes.
BTW, Fantagraphics released Volume 4 of their oversized Thimble Theater reprint series not too long ago, “Plunder Island”, which just happens to be perhaps the greatest storyline from the strip, so if you’re curious for more, that’s the place to go.