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Popeye: An Illustrated Cultural History Paperback – July, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A good purchase" -- Booklist/RBB

"Excellent" -- Pop Art Times

"For the most thorough examination of Popeye, no other book comes close" -- Big Reel

About the Author

Cartoonist Fred M. Grandinetti, who does not like spinach, co-founded the International Popeye Fanclub. He lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 337 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company; 2nd ed. edition (July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078641605X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786416059
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Bierly on August 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
The breadth of Grandinetti's knowledge about Popeye is truly astounding! This is good news for readers because it means that his book covers all things Popeye. From comic strips to animated cartoons to collectibles to live action to sound recordings to theme park appearances and more, it's all here. Those wanting to learn about the sailor, or find answers to trivia questions, or rekindle childhood memories and finally solve mysteries like "What was the name of that cartoon where Bluto was a bullfighter?" will find what they need. Even long-time diehard fans like me will learn new things. And the

illustrations are wonderful! There are sample strips from all the creators of the comics over the years, stills from the animated films, theatrical posters, sheet music, ads, model sheets and more. Fred includes episode guides, sample scripts, colorizations gaffs, character profiles, mini-bios of the voice artists, a section on the censored Popeye cartoons, and information about The International Popeye Fanclub written by club co-founder Mike Brooks.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should also say that there are two pages about me and my views toward Popeye and the Famous Studios cartoons, but even without those pages I would recommend the book to anyone wanting an education in Popeye and those curious as to why, 75 years after his creation, people all over the world still talk about the one-eyed, pipe tooting hero.

Not everyone will agree with all of Grandinetti's opinions about the various incarnations of Popeye, but Fred tries to be fair and will get you to think. And fans interacting with other fans' thoughts is what fandom is all about.

Bottom line: This is a good job from perhaps the number one Popeye fan in the world.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As others have observed, the author does appear to be a living encyclopedia on the subject of the spinach-loving sailor. The book is, for the most part, exhaustively researched and leaves nary a stone unturned. There are, however, a few of reasons I have rated it 4 instead of 5 stars.

First of all, while no one could reasonably argue Mr. Grandinetti is a Popeye expert, he's hardly an expert writer. His casual writing style unfortunately results in some haphazard organization. An experienced editor would prove invaluable here. Specifically, he's given to going off on tangents while discussing a particular topic. To be fair, such tangents usually are relevant; they simply struck this reader as jarring interruptions to the narrative flow.

The author also inserts quite a bit of opinion in with his facts. This often takes the form of "Popeye fans around the world feel that. . ." While many would probably argue that being co-founder of the International Popeye Fan Club means Mr. Grandinetti CAN speak for many, I again found this style of writing distracting.

Last and least, for the price tag on this baby, I think some color pictures could have been printed. The black and white ones are many and varied, the majority of them quite rare, so this is a minor gripe.

OK, enough complaining. On the plus side, I greatly appreciate having a detailed listing of all the Popeye cartoons from the 30's to the 90's. And while the majority of folks know the character more from the cartoons than E.C. Segar's comic strip, it's gratifying to see a large portion devoted to Popeye's humble ink & paper origins. Certainly, this book was a labor of love. And while I stand by my criticisms listed above, I do feel that this is an essential book for Popeye enthusiasts.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
BLUF: Too much personal history from the author on the subject. Too much tangential information about subjects not directly related to the so-called "cultural history" of the subject. Too much information repeated too many times about the various cartoons and the studios that produced them. Oh and too much about the cartoons and not really enough about providing a full "illustrated cultural history" of the subject.

This is supposed to be the illustrated history of Popeye. This should have been titled, "Popeye, a history of his cartoons" for all the history that it gives towards that half of the subject. The author skips over the other half of the history of Popeye with his start as a secondary character in some comic strip and his various comic strip or comic book authors. The author gives a chapter to these gentlemen, but barely talks about some of the classic story lines that were created here that would see recreation later in the films and cartoons. After a chapter of "...and this comic artist was born here and took over from this other one on his retirement..." sort of information. The book begins to get into some serious detail and starts to tread into information overload as if all of a sudden the author found his muse with the cartoon version of the sailor.

Which must have been the moving pictures from the Fleischer Cartoons to the Robert Altman movie and a few attempts at revival in the late 80s with the various studios such as Fleischer which then became Famous and then Paramounts low cost cartoons and then Hanna-Barbara's take on the sailor. It is here that there is more details than one can deal with.
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