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Popeye Vol. 2: “Well Blow Me Down!”
posted November 7, 2007
Fantagraphics, hardcover, 168 pages, November 2007, $29.95
I'm not sure I'm capable of providing a decent review of Popeye
. I consider the Popeye run of E.C. Segar's strip one of the towering achievements in comics. In fact, I like so many aspects of it that for me to discuss why tends to end up with my pointing at stuff and saying "awesome" a lot, like an Ed Helms sketch that was funnier in dress. I still want to point people in direction of the imminent second Fantagraphics hardcover collection, as it contains some of the greatest humor comics of all time. This includes the mighty King Blozo sequence "The Great Rough-House War," about a half-dozen of those exquisite Sundays centered around some horrifically violent prizefight, and a surprising number of effective jokes starring Olive Oyl (like Marge Simpson, she tends to be at her most amusing when having to function while angry). The introductory material balances Mort Walker and his killer piece of fan art with a thoughtful essay by Donald Phelps that features among several points driven home in the critic's looping prose a grand description of the extent to which Segar staged his comics over designing them.
The best thing about this volume is the introduction of J. Wellington Wimpy, my vote for the greatest character in comics history. There are characters before and since that have lived primarily in the id, but none of them tend to be as funny as Wimpy while doing so, and certainly none of them try to negotiate this world through a series of obtuse excuses and moronic shticks, none of which ever work. All of this within a package so solid and lovely looking I would have purchased it had it housed seven years of Marvin
. If I bought three comics in a year, one of them would be this one. If I only bought one, I'd have a hard time deciding, and only because I've already read this stuff.