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Fantagraphics' Popeye will collect the complete run of Segar's Thimble Theatre comic strip (dailies and color Sundays) featuring Popeye, re-establishing Segar as one of the first rank of cartoonists who have elevated the comic strip to art. He was the most popular cartoonist of his day, his sense of humor coming straight out of Mark Twain, who also balanced exaggerated tall tales and a perfect ear for everyday speech with dark themes that undercut his laugh-out-loud stories. In this first volume, covering 1928-1930, Popeye's initial courtship of Olive Oyl takes center stage while Olive's brother Castor Oyl discovers the mysterious Whiffle Hen. Also, the entire cast meets the Sea Hag for the first time in their pursuit of the "Mystery House" (Popeye's first extended daily narrative), and Castor Oyl attempts to turn Popeye into a boxing champion in a series of hilarious Sunday strips. These strips are masterpieces of comic invention. Popeye's omnipotence pre-figures the rise of superheroes in the 1930s and 1940s, though Popeye is a much more sympathetic character, and his very name announces his vibrant personality. His mangled English pulsated with the vital spirit of immigrant America, its rhythm poetic in its own vulgar way: "I yam what I yam and tha's all I yam."

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