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Popeye, Vol. 4: Plunder Island Hardcover – December 22, 2009

5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
Book 4 of 6 in the Complete Popeye Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The high point of the fourth volume reprinting the classic newspaper strip in chronology is the monumental “Plunder Island” sequence, in which sailor and supporting cast, notably including sweetie Olive Oyl and incorrigible scrounger J. Wellington Wimpy, set off to find the Sea Hag’s hidden treasure. The epic tale extended for more than seven months’ worth of Sunday strips and proved that the scrappy sailor was at his best a-seafaring. Concurrently, in the daily strips, Popeye took over a newspaper in Puddleburg, the laziest town on earth; Olive inherited a fortune and hired Popeye as her butler; the gang returned to the kingdom of Nazila and journeyed west to investigate theft at a gold mine; and Popeye set out in an ark to found a new country he intended to call Spinachova. Other comic strips of the era were arguably as funny, others offered equally rousing adventure, and the brilliant wordplay of Krazy Kat remains unmatched. But none of the others combined all those elements with the felicity of Segar’s. --Gordon Flagg

Review

“[T]he whole of this book is top-notch, Segar at his greatest. Includes a lengthy and hilarious sequence of Popeye in drag, romancing a baddie.” (Robert Boyd - The Great God Pan Is Dead)

“The books qualify as near-architectural marvels in their own right―towering, heavyweight packages with die-cut front-cover windows and an interior design that showcases numerous installments of the feature with each two-page spread... The Fantagraphics editions make plain Segar’s mastery of grim suspense and biting humor as essential components of storytelling.” (The Fort Worth Business Press)

“These Popeye books are made with the kind of love and care and attention to detail that’s rare in comics–it’s clear that their publishers treat this material with reverence, and it makes it even more pleasurable to crack a new volume open each year.” (Dustin Harbin - The HeroesOnline Blog)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics (December 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606991698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606991695
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 0.8 x 14.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #718,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The latest Popeye compilation switches things up a bit by presenting the Sunday color comics first with the black and white dailies following. I assume this is because the Sunday strips feature the highly touted "Plunder Island" story and the publishers wanted to lead with their best stuff. The Sundays generally focused on the peripheral characters including Wimpy, Mr. Geezel and Roughhouse and the trend continues in "Plunder Island". This is the one rare instance where nearly all the Popeye characters are together in an adventure as they search the high seas for treasure while battling the ruthless Sea Hag and Alice the Goon. I must confess that I found "Plunder Island" to be a bit overrated and I've seen E.C. Segar's produce better writing. In fact I think there are several stories in this very book that are better. What makes it unique is that it's perhaps the only Segar produced adventure in color.

In 1934 the success of Popeye reached a point of critical mass and King Features owner William Randolph Hearst informed Segar that the character would need to be toned down as he was becoming very popular with kids. In this collection you can start to detect the transformation. Gone are the cartoon curse words that Popeye would unleash and the gambling (mostly) and his devastating punches are now reserved for truly despicable characters. When you really get down to it Popeye was pretty much a jerk in previous books but a sensitive jerk with a weakness for hard luck cases and children. I don't know at what point in 1934 the decree was sent down because early on in the year he was still haranguing Olive Oyl telling her that she looked like "suppin' the cat drugged in" and at one point even knocked her on her rear with a thrown vase.
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Format: Hardcover
How many comics readers received their first exposure to E.C. Segar's work through the medium of THE SMITHSONIAN COLLECTION OF NEWSPAPER COMICS? I was one of those lucky stiffs whose first taste of the "real" Popeye and friends was the deep, refreshing draft reprinted in full (and, for the first time, in color) in this volume. "Plunder Island," which ran in Segar's Sunday pages from December 1933 to July 1934 -- it was by far the most ambitious story the artist ever mounted in a Sunday format -- has been described by such respected comics scholars as Bill Blackbeard and Richard Marschall (who fills in for the unreadable Donald Phelps as this installment's introductory essayist) as the greatest single narrative in the history of comics. This is remarkable in view of the fact that 90% of this "epic adventure" consists of shipboard interactions between characters. Segar had used sea voyages for story settings in the past, dating all the way back to "Dice Island" (the story in which Popeye debuted), but, one way or another, the characters' activities off the ship eventually took center stage. Popeye's gang doesn't reach the titular island -- the hideaway where The Sea Hag's (stolen) treasure is stored -- until we hit the last half-dozen strips. It doesn't really matter, as we thrill (and not in a good way) to the introduction of the unsettling "original naked version" of Alice the Goon, chuckle at the paranoid George G. Geezil's increasingly desperate efforts to "kill" Wimpy "to death," and laugh out loud at the sight of Wimpy romancing The Hag and pretending to behead Popeye, just to get at the "50 pounds of frozen hamburger" she has on her ship. Here, "getting there" is definitely more than half the fun.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
This fourth volume of Fantagraphics' series of E.C. Segar's Popeye comic strips is subtitled "Plunder Island". That is also the title of a long adventure that ran in the Popeye color Sunday strips (it ran for over six months). This is arguably one of the best sequences in the history of the strip, and it introduced Alice the Goon. Other than that classic strip, all the other material is great, too. Highly recommended to fans of classic comic strips.
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Format: Hardcover
The fourth big slab of Elzie Crisler Segar's great comic strip Thimble Theatre -- better known, now but even in it's '30s heyday, by the name of its central character, Popeye -- came out from Fantagraphics about a year and a half ago, but it took me a while to work out how to physically read these gigantic, wonderful artifacts in the most satisfying way, so I didn't get to it until recently.

It's called "Plunder Island" -- after the six-months-long Sunday sequence of that name, in which Popeye, Wimpy, Olive, and others go in search of that legendary island, facing the horrible Sea Hag and her weird minion, Alice the Goon, along the way -- and it's just as good and thrilling a mixture of low humor, high adventure, running gags, populist sentiment, brawling action, expressive drawing, and unforgettable characters as ever.

Everything I wrote about the earlier books -- well, except for the detail of which stories are in which volumes; this one has "Plunder Island" and some shorter continuities in the Sundays and a host of stories in the dailies, seeing Popeye back out West, back in Nazilia, hobnobbing with high society, in the "laziest town on earth," searching for the pool of youth, and, finally, building and filling an ark to found a men-only utopia that he'll rule -- is still true of "Plunder Island," and I don't feel like repeating myself. The newspaper comic strip is one of the great American artforms, the second quarter of the 20th century was probably its greatest flowering, and Segar was one of the brightest lights of that Renaissance. This is great stuff, and it's just as funny and enthralling as it was in the mid-30s when Segar was spinning it out, day by day, in the funny papers. Someone who can read Popeye and doesn't has no advantages to speak of over the mule, who cannot read Popeye.
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