Critical Analysis of a Graphic Fiction Popeye

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Popeye is a comic strip named after the cartoon`s main character.Elzie Crisler Segar created the character in 1929 and firstintroduced Popeye in a comic strip titled &quotThimble Theater&quotin the Sunday Edition. Since the death of Segar in 1938, the comicstrip has been authored by different cartoonists with the currentbeing Hy Eisman who took over from Bobby London in 1994. The cartooncovers different topics and that revolve around Popeye`s interactionswith other characters including his wife Olive and his friend J.Wellington Wimpy. In the current strip, Popeye and Wimpy are on afishing trip and are embroiled in a discussion about the latter`sfailed ambitions. The piece meets the primary requirements of comicstrips and uses words to enrich the piece that would otherwise bemeaningless.

The comic is very dramatic in the portrayal of the characters. Thisis necessary to enrich the story and strengthen the characters’attributes. Eisman (2015) has incorporated his name into the cartoonby showing Popeye aiming to hit or grab it as an object enclosed in aspiky callout in the first panel. The images are brightly colored tothe piece stand out and give the characters life. The comic has alsoused silhouettes in one panel to portray depth and distance. As aresult, this panel captures more of the waters surrounding the boatand blacks out details of the characters. Also, a circular pictureeffect is used in one panel to highlight Wimpy`s pose. Other panelsillustrate the calm waters and the sky to depict the day`s weatherconditions that words would not capture.

Where words are used, they enrich the intended message and thepersonality of the characters. From the beginning, Popeye has beenportrayed as a brute man who is frequently involved in wild anticsand outbursts. On the contrary, Wimpy is the intelligent and sobermind though he is lazy and cowardly. How Wimpy talks and his choicewords emphasize his education and intellect. When Popeye asks himabout his ambitions in life, he says that he had many as a youngster.To pursue these goals, he acquired a good education and received manydegrees. He later developed an algorithm for a social network to earnhim money but abandoned the plans upon realizing that giving up waseasier.

The language used in the strip also ignores basic grammatical rules.For instance, Popeye asks Wimpy &quotdidja ever have any ambition?&quot(Popeye 2015). The author changes the spelling of some words tocapture the speaker`s character attributes. The same accent is absentwhen Wimpy speaks. As seen in the last panel, Wimpy emphasizes thewords &quotgive up&quot as the author has put them in bold.Furthermore, all the words in the comic are capitalized, which doesnot appear to achieve anything in particular.

The flow of events in the images and callouts is smooth anddeliberate. Popeye poses the first question to which Wimpy respondsin a lengthy narrative that transcends several panels. The bodylanguage is also important in their exchange. Popeye faces his friendwhenever he talks to him. He even faces him in the final panel whenWimpy declares that he chose to give up on his ambition. Popeyemanages only a grunt surprised by Wimpy`s answer. On the contrary,Popeye does not face Wimpy when the latter talks for most of thetime.

From the analysis, it can be concluded that the comic strip usesvarious styles to achieve its goals and deliver the author`s message.The piece meets all the necessary requirements for comic strips byusing gutters, panels, callouts, and showing the name of the author.These elements are critical to conveying the intended message andshowing that Wimpy is beyond lazy. Thus, the cartoon mocks lazypeople who have great ideas but do not work on them.


Eisman, H. (2015).Popeye. Retrieved from