Back in the day, I used to watch Popeye cartoons. I liked them OK, although I enjoyed Scoobie Doo more. Olive Oyl was feisty, and she didn’t wait around to be rescued. She was a force to be reckoned with. I never really liked Popeye himself, since he was kind of dumb and kind of violent.
I never got a chance to read Popeye in comics form as a kid, and that’s kind of a shame, I think. As a youngun I would have really enjoyed the strange story lines and the occasional random slapstick. The art’s pretty good and the ink is interesting.
As an adult though… I’m going to admit upfront that I just don’t enjoy slapstick humor. I like when bad guys get smashed because they’re bad, but I don’t find it funny. I can’t watch reality TV because it makes me intensely uncomfortable and embarrassed for the people on the show. I always hated the Three Stooges. For me, Popeye was an uncomfortable read. I just didn’t enjoy it much. I could see why people loved it, because as I said, the stories do go interesting places and the art is pretty good, but I spent so much time cringing because Popeye beat up a cow or a random person. It’s just…not for me. I ended up thinking I’m such a girl, but that’s not really it. It’s not about being a girl and not enjoying this comic. It’s just not my kind of art.
Like Noah, I would read a bit and realize that what I really needed to do was scrub the bathroom. Or do laundry. Or weed the garden. Get the oil changed in the car. And once you’re starting to look forward to battling the garden slugs, it’s probably time to set down the comic, no matter how beautifully presented in the Fantagraphics book.
I wish I had something weighty to add, but I don’t. I can see the appeal, and I didn’t hate it. I just didn’t connect with it.
Update by Noah: The whole Popeye roundtable is here.