Staff TemplateInformation-silk
E. C. Segar

Real Name
Elzie Crisler Segar
E.C. Segar

Job Titles


Date of Birth
December 8, 1894

Date of Death
October 13, 1938

First publication


Personal History

E.C. Segar
Born Elzie Crisler Segar
(1894-12-08)December 8, 1894
Chester, Illinois
Died October 13, 1938(1938-10-13) (aged 43)
Santa Monica, California
Nationality American
Area(s) cartoonist
Notable works Popeye

Elzie Crisler Segar (December 8, 1894 – October 13, 1938) known professionally as E.C. Segar was an American cartoonist, best known as the creator of Popeye, a pop culture character who first appeared in 1929 in Segar's comic strip Thimble Theatre.

Early life

Segar was born on 8 December 1894, and raised in Chester, Illinois, a small town near the Mississippi River. The son of a handyman, his earliest work experiences included assisting his father in house painting and paper hanging. Skilled at playing drums, he also provided musical accompaniment to films and vaudeville acts in the local theater, where he was eventually given the job of film projectionist[1] at the Chester Opera House, where he also did live performances. At age 18, he decided to become a cartoonist. He took a correspondence course in cartooning from W.L. Evans of Cleveland, Ohio.[1] He said that after work he "lit up the oil lamps about midnight and worked on the course until 3 a.m."

Early work

Segar moved to Chicago where he met Richard F. Outcault, the creator of The Yellow Kid and Buster Brown. Outcault encouraged him and introduced him at the Chicago Herald. On March 12, 1916, the Herald published Segar's first comic, Charlie Chaplin's Comedy Capers, which ran for a little over a year. In 1917, Barry the Boob was created. In 1918, he moved on to William Randolph Hearst's Chicago Evening American where he created Looping the Loop. Segar married Myrtle Johnson that year; they had two children. In October 1919, Segar covered that year's World Series, creating eight cartoons for the sports pages.[2][3]

Thimble Theatre and Popeye

Main article: Popeye

Evening American Managing editor William Curley thought Segar could succeed in New York, so he sent him to King Features Syndicate, where Segar worked for many years. He began by drawing Thimble Theatre for the New York Journal. The strip made its debut on December 19, 1919, featuring the characters Olive Oyl, Castor Oyl and Horace Hamgravy, whose name was quickly shortened in the strip to simply "Ham Gravy". They were the strip's leads for about a decade. On January 17, 1929, when Castor Oyl needed a mariner to navigate his ship to Dice Island, Castor picked up an old salt down by the docks named Popeye. Popeye's first line in the strip, upon being asked if he was a sailor, was "'Ja think I'm a cowboy?" The character stole the show and became the permanent star. Some of the other notable characters Segar created include J. Wellington Wimpy and Eugene the Jeep.

The Five-Fifteen and Sappo


E. C. Segar's Sappo (1933).

Segar also created The Five-Fifteen for King Features in 1920; it was retitled Sappo in 1926. Sappo ran as a topper to the Thimble Theatre Sunday pages.

Legacy and reprints

After prolonged illness, Segar died of leukemia and liver disease at the age of 43.[4] Segar is widely regarded as one of the most influential and talented cartoonists of all time, among the first to combine humor with long-running adventures. A revival of interest in Segar's creations began with Woody Gelman's Nostalgia Press. Robert Altman's live-action film Popeye (1980) is adapted from E. C. Segar's Thimble Theatre comic strip. The screenplay by Jules Feiffer was based directly on Gelman's Thimble Theatre Starring Popeye the Sailor, a hardcover reprint collection of 1936-37 Segar strips published in 1971 by Nostalgia Press.[5] In 2006, Fantagraphics published the first of a six-volume book set reprinting all Thimble Theatre daily and Sunday strips from 1928–38, beginning with the adventure that introduced Popeye.

In 1971, the National Cartoonists Society created the Elzie Segar Award in his honor. According to the Society's website, the award was "presented to a person who has made a unique and outstanding contribution to the profession of cartooning." The NCS board of directors chose the first winners, while King Features selected recipients in later years. Honorees have included Charles Schulz, Bil Keane, Al Capp, Bill Gallo and Mort Walker. The award was discontinued in 1999.[6]

In 2012, writer Roger Langridge and cartoonist Bruce Ozella teamed to revive the spirit of Segar in their four-issue limited series, Popeye, published by IDW.

Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest it was "SEE-gar".[7] He commonly signed his work simply Segar or E. Segar above a drawing of a cigar.



Professional History

Professional History of E. C. Segar is unknown.


  • No special notes.


  • No trivia.

See Also

Work History

Official Website

  • None.

Links and References

  • None.
  1. 1.0 1.1 Adam Gabbatt (2009-12-08). "E.C. Segar, Popeye's creator, celebrated with a Google doodle". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2011-05-12. 
  2. The Early Works of E.C. Segar
  3. The Thimble Theatre Comic Strip starring Popeye
  4. "Ed Black's Cartoon Flashback". Retrieved 2011-05-12. 
  5. Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession, pp. 125-126, Dave Jamieson, 2010, Atlantic Monthly Press, imprint of Grove/Atlantic Inc., New York, NY, ISBN 978-0-8021-1939-1
  6. "NCS Awards". 1965-09-22. Retrieved 2011-05-12. 
  7. Funk, Charles Earle. What's the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.
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