Popeye was introduced to its American audience in 1929 by creator Elzie Crisler Segar in his strip, Thimble Theatre. Re-christened ‘Popeye’, it made its UK debut in the Daily Mirror in 1937, where it ran until 1946. After the death of Segar in 1938 the strip was continued by other writers and artists, most notably Segar’s assistant Bud Sagendorf. The popularity of Popeye’s animated antics on ITV led TV Comic to secure a licence to produce UK-originated strips, and it introduced Popeye with a front cover story, drawn by AW ‘Chick’ Henderson, in 1960. Popeye remained with TV Comic, making over 1200 appearances, until it folded in 1984.
Chick Henderson was an animator at Gaumont British Animation who occasionally worked in comics; after Popeye he went on to illustrate Yogi Bear strips in that character’s eponymous weekly comic in 1963.
Mike Noble replaced Chick Henderson in roughly 1964 (Issue 659) during a slump of work where he was first asked to contribute to ‘Beetle Bailey’, another American feature. Unlike Henderson, Noble did not sign his work, deeming it inappropriate since Popeye was not his original conception. This particular detail, as well as his short run on Popeye, makes it difficult to discern pieces by Noble. His art, however, included ‘smooth colouring almost immediately identifiable, standing out from the flat color other artists used before and after’ (Technodelic).
The tenure of Neville Main and his work on Popeye is slightly unknown, but some sources mention his work. Main started working for TV Comic in 1951 where he worked on a number of strips including ‘Fireball XL5’ and ‘Muffin the Mule’. While he did work on Popeye, his time was short lived and he was replaced within a year. The writer at the time, Rodger Noel Cook stated, ‘Although a nice man, was a useless artist and went on to ruin Popeye’.
Our featured artist, William H ‘Bill’ Mevin, was born in 1929 and attended the Liverpool School of Art. He subsequently went on to work for Gaumont British in the 40s as an animator. Eventually he turned to creating cartoons for the Sunday Chronicle which led to working on comics. Over the years he contributed to Eagle Extra, Express Weekly (‘Wee Sporty’), and TV Comic where his Popeye art was featured. While with TV Comic he also drew for ‘Lenny the Lion’, ‘Supercar’, ‘Space Patrol’, ‘Bugs Bunny’, as well as his most well known venture, ‘Doctor Who’, amongst others. (Mevin took over Doctor Who over from former Popeye artist, Neville Main.) During the late 80s/early 90s he turned back to newspapers, working for the Daily Mail on a Dallas-spoofing strip called ‘The Soapremes’ and in 1992 took on the art for ‘The Perishers’ in the Daily Mirror, which he stayed with until 2005.
The Comic Creators Gallery at the Cartoon Museum displays a page of Bill Mevin’s artwork from the 1980 TV Comic Holiday Special, donated by the artist!
By M Akemon
For more information please visit the Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HH or out website at http://www.cartoonmuseum.org.
“Bill Mevin.” Lambiek.net. Web. 19 May 2016.
“Interview: Artist Mike Noble, Part 1.” Interview: Artist Mike Noble, Part 1. Web. 19 May 2016.
“In the Comics – First Doctor.” In the Comics – First Doctor. Web. 19 May 2016.
“TV Comic » 673 Issues.” TV Comic (Volume). Web. 19 May 2016.
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