March 26th, 2014

Ask A Cartoonist: National Spinach Day

by Countess Tea

Happy National Spinach Day!

Did you know that was a holiday?  I had no idea– until it popped up on my calendar, and naturally, when you work for King Features, there’s only one think National Spinach Day could possibly mean: It’s time to talk about Popeye!  

Popeye is such a seminal part of comics history that just about everyone has a great Popeye story, whether it’s from childhood, or from learning about cartooning, or from the time you gained superpowers by eating canned vegetables.  So, today, I “aksed” our cartoonists to share a favorite memory of Popeye:

My favorite Popeye memory has to do with the cartoonists.
Zippy never asks easy questions–even of  a giant Popeye statue. (real statue is in Springdale Arkansas)  
–Bill Griffith, Zippy the Pinhead
One is of the Popeye Sunday page artist, Hy Eisman. Coincidentally he was also one of my instructors when I went to the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, New Jersey. Exceptional artist and an exceptional teacher as well.
The second is Popeye dailies artist, Bobby London. When I was working on staff at King Features, Bobby would come in to make photostats of his originals. His unique style was incredibly well-suited for drawing Popeye and harkened back to Segar’s old Thimble Theatre version. A new collection of London’s Popeye strips just came out and is available at

(Unabashed plug.) I recommend it highly!

–Jim Keefe, Flash Gordon and Sally Forth

For as long as I can remember, I have been a Popeye fan!  I grew up in small towns in Virginia and most of those newspapers did not carry the comic strip.  So, as a child, most of my exposure to Popeye was through the Popeye comic books and animated cartoons.  About 12 years ago while looking in a used book store, I found a book by Bud Sagendorf entitled Popeye: The First Fifty Years!  It is a simply magnificent book!  It was very inspiring and got me back into Popeye as an adult. Since then, I’ve purchased other Popeye book collections by Segar and London and lots of Popeye comic books, both new and old.  I also regularly follow Hy Eisman’s great Popeye work on Comics Kingdom.  When visiting King Features New York City office last year in conjunction with the release of my book, The Bodacious Best Of Snuffy Smith, the Rose family had to get our picture with the large Popeye statue in the King office area!  


–John Rose, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith

When I was in kindergarten I drew a picture of Popeye and sent it in to The Uncle Al Show, the local kiddie program. Uncle Al would show a bunch of kids’ drawings every show, and I watched faithfully until about two weeks later when my drawing flashed across the screen with all the others. The next day at kindergarten I was the toast of the class. 

–Jim Borgman, Zits

I was a big fan of the Popeye cartoons I saw on television when I was a kid. That quirky, almost incomprehensible dialogue was so cool! I learned to like spinach because of Popeye, and still do even though I haven’t ever beaten anybody up as a result.

–Jerry Scott, Baby Blues and Zits

I’ve been a Popeye fanatic since I was a child, watching the classic Fleischer Studios cartoons on afternoon TV. I have a shelf full of vintage Popeye items on display in my studio, and was thrilled to finally get to draw the salty old sailor in the IDW comic book, “Mars Attacks Popeye” in 2013. I’m sending along a picture of me at age three in 1961, decked out in my best Popeye gear — sailor hat, corn cob pipe and Popeye fan club pin back button. I yam what I yam — and I am a Popeye fan!  

–Terry Beatty, The Phantom and Rex Morgan, MD

At 7 years of age I asked my mother if we (my younger brother and I) could have a can of spinach.  Mum suggested we try fresh spinach but it HAD to be canned because that was Popeye’s preference. 
Thankfully, it never bestowed super-human strength upon us. It was horrible and I wouldn’t like to have grown dependant upon the vile stuff.
Initially my favorite character in ‘Popeye’ was Popeye. 
From 7 years of age I became disillusioned with Popeye. 
Bluto became my favorite character. 
Bluto is a much maligned and misunderstood character and he NEVER eats canned spinach. 
–Kieran Meehan, Pros & Cons
When I was a little kid I ate spinach for one reason and one reason only. I knew it would give me big muscles.
–Bud Grace, The Piranha Club

I watched a lot of cartoons on TV as a kid, and Popeye was one of our favorites. If you could talk and laugh like Popeye, you were a cool kid. I don’t remember the name of the character, but the one who doesn’t say anything but eats a lot of hamburgers. He’s my favorite. It’s the same reason I like Jughead in Archie, who also eats lots of hamburgers. I watched a lot of cartoons on TV as a kid, and Popeye was one of our favorites. If you could talk and laugh like Popeye, you were a cool kid.

–Isabella Bannerman, Six Chix










–Ron Ferdinand, Dennis the Menace




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