First appearance of Popeye

January 17th, 1929

On this day in 1929, Popeye, the Sailor Man, renowned comic-strip character, first appeared in print. The Victoria Advocate is credited as the first newspaper in the nation to run Elzie Crisler Segar's comic strip, originally called "Thimble Theatre," which starred the spinach-eating hero. Segar (1894-1938) was born in Chester, Illinois, and worked as a moving-picture machine operator, a house painter, and a photographer before his first cartoon effort was rejected by a St. Louis paper. Segar became a popular cartoonist in the 1920s. Popeye was probably inspired by Frank "Rocky" Feigle of Segar's hometown. By 1932 Popeye was the undisputed star of "Thimble Theatre," as evidenced in fan mail, toys, games, novelties, and jokes. Segar himself called the Victoria Advocate Popeye's "hometown." In gratitude he contributed a special cartoon for the Advocate's historic 1934 anniversary issue. Speaking to the newspaper's editor through Popeye, Segar wrote, "Please assept me hearties bes' wishes an' felitcitations on account of yer paper's 88th Anniversity....Victoria is me ol' home town on account of tha's where I got born'd at." Crystal City, Texas, also claims a special relationship to Popeye. The spinach industry credited Popeye and Segar with the 33 percent increase in spinach consumption from 1931 to 1936, and in 1937 Crystal City, the "Spinach Capital of the World," erected a statue to honor Segar and his sailor.

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First appearance of Popeye

January 17th, 1929

On this day in 1929, Popeye, the Sailor Man, renowned comic-strip character, first appeared in print. The Victoria Advocate is credited as the first newspaper in the nation to run Elzie Crisler Segar's comic strip, originally called "Thimble Theatre," which starred the spinach-eating hero. Segar (1894-1938) was born in Chester, Illinois, and worked as a moving-picture machine operator, a house painter, and a photographer before his first cartoon effort was rejected by a St. Louis paper. Segar became a popular cartoonist in the 1920s. Popeye was probably inspired by Frank "Rocky" Feigle of Segar's hometown. By 1932 Popeye was the undisputed star of "Thimble Theatre," as evidenced in fan mail, toys, games, novelties, and jokes. Segar himself called the Victoria Advocate Popeye's "hometown." In gratitude he contributed a special cartoon for the Advocate's historic 1934 anniversary issue. Speaking to the newspaper's editor through Popeye, Segar wrote, "Please assept me hearties bes' wishes an' felitcitations on account of yer paper's 88th Anniversity....Victoria is me ol' home town on account of tha's where I got born'd at." Crystal City, Texas, also claims a special relationship to Popeye. The spinach industry credited Popeye and Segar with the 33 percent increase in spinach consumption from 1931 to 1936, and in 1937 Crystal City, the "Spinach Capital of the World," erected a statue to honor Segar and his sailor.

«   Previous Next   »

Related Handbook of Texas Articles

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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