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"I yam what I yam an' tha's all I yam!"

Segar is my favourite comic strip’s author because of his most popoular character: Popeye - The sailor man.

First of all, Segar is unanimously considered by the critics a very important author (somebody even talk about Popeye like “Rabelais added to Kafka”). Unfortunately many people think about comic strips like they were little serious things, so we don’t know much about Segar, even the exact name.
Some authoritative witnesses talk about Elzie Chrisler Segar or Elzie Crisler Segar. Nobody can be sure of his birth place: we could even “choose” between Camptown, Illinois, or Chester, Illinois.

All this unknown things are probably due to his lifestyle, absolutely normal and sometimes picturesque: we can surely say that Segar’s life was similar to his cross-eyed sailor’s one: upholsterer, whitewasher, drummer, for five years projectionist (notice the variety!). He had a tattoo with the letters MPO (Motion Picture Operator)on his arm that he never removed.

Later, when his world (the puppets, the games, the objects, the films and partly the comic strips) began to give a return like $2.000 every week, he buyed a great farm and he spent a lot of time cultivating vegetables. The vegetables and the biliardo made happy his last days.

But now, let’s talk about Popeye, the sailor characterized by a putting out eye, an oral anarchy and a change of words with grammatical and phonetic mistakes. We know that in the comic strip’s world, a character’s birth is never casual but it’s planned and it follows to very precise rules. Popeye appears instead in a different way, unexpected, in a strip that lasted already for ten years and in which it had to figure like appearance not much important: but we know as it has gone to end.

Anyone has loved Charlie Chaplin can appreciate Segar because, when he was a motion picture operator, he took from “the master” much more than everyone, the humour, the rhythm of the narration and the characters with a simple and genuine mind: a little children, a little animal on the road.

The enormous monsters, the incredible creatures, the enchanting places, the wonders, the poetry and the absurdities in the Segar’s strips are the most significant moments in the comic strip’s history.

Translation by Carlo Cianci


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