In 2011, artist Tom Neely published the spoof Doppelganger, a mini-comic that aped the basic plot of an old Popeye comic published by Dell in which Popeye confronts a robot lookalike built by his old archfoe, The Sea Hag. Neely's effort was created to attract the attention of comic book archivist/publisher/historian Craig Yoe, who was editing a new series of Popeye comic books for IDW, hopefully getting an assignment to draw some "proper" Popeyes. I don't know if it worked out for him, because I didn't follow the newer material that came out, but Doppelganger is a neat little book - I remember writing about it in one of my "Best of The Year" posts, so yes, it's a keeper.
Cut to 2017. Craig Yoe is still editing Popeye comics for IDW, but it's strictly a monthly series reprinting issues of the old Dell Popeye comics, written and drawn by Bud Sagendorf. IDW has gotten really good at reprinting older comics from other publishers featuring licensed characters that are currently appearing under their label, usually as a spin-off series under the name "...Classics". It started with Transformers Classics, followed by Doctor Who Classics, G.I. Joe Classics...you get the idea. Iwouldn't be surprised if a Ducktales Classics in the horizon..deservedly so, in my humble opinion.
So..to my surprise a few months ago, the then-latest issue of Popeye Classics featured a reprint of the exact issue of Popeye that was Neely's inspiration for Doppelganger! You know what that means...I get to stare and compare!
I like Popeye, but I wouldn't know how Sagendorf's take on the character differs from E.C. Segar's comics, because I haven't read those. The comics are more interesting than the myriad cartoons that were cranked out and aired in TV reruns for many decades, where it was just...waiting for when Popeye eats the spinach and mops the floor with Bluto/Brutus or discipline those nephews that looked like him, but were clearly rip-offs of Huey, Dewey and Louie. And I didn't know Sweet Pea the baby could talk! And I don't mean thought balloon talk-speak, like Garfield or Marvin or Snoopy, but engage in dialogue! If there was more of this in the cartoons and less hackwork then Popeye would've probably not become obscure to the point where a movie studio would get cold feet about doing a CG cartoon movie about him!
One nifty thing about Doppelganger is the size of it allows me to bundle the book inside this issue of Popeye Classics as a bonus insert. They complement each other.