Monday, September 8, 2008

Before Popeye

Does this sound familiar ?

"Was I ever captered by pyrates, says you ?"

"Wall now, 'f that ain't th' most amoosin' thing I ever heard tellon!"

And the old seaman laid back and bellowed a haw! haw! in his best quarterdeck that made the windows rattle, and the small group of loungers that had gathered its way into the little fisher's shanty exchange expectant glances.

"Why, stow me away!" he continued, after getting somewhat the better of his merriment.

"The next thing I know some lubber'll come cruising alongside here and arsk 'f I was ever keelhauled er cast ashore an' et by cannybles, er somethin'. But see here, matie (and the old sea dog winked a blue weather eye at the young fellow who had so innocently put the question and was growing very red in the face) don't you git flustered, not you, it ain't no fault o' your'n you don't know moreabout th' dangers o' sea life, not by a jug full, 'cept wot you've read, mebby in them story books, 'at ain't more'n half true I reckon."

This was from the Vancouver World of April 13, 1907 in a text feature illustrated in a fantastic comic style by an artist who signed himself Lowry, the 'y' at the end of his name dipping to make a ship's anchor.

The Title was Bill Bunk captured by Pirates, a sequel to Bill Bunk and his Shipmate Sam, Unheard of Adventures of Two Sailors on a Deserted Island on April 6, 1907. But this is not all, there was also a Sunday page titled "Binnacle Jim," beginning on March 30,1907, and copyright by Otis F. Wood. Under a long header at the top were nine panels with balloons and narrative text underneath in thesame sea dog patois, "arter" for "after" &c.

Binnacle Jim smokes a Popeye type pipe, wears a Popeye sailor hat and suit, and mangles the Queen's English like all tough sailors do. Unlike Popeye he sports a beard. There are also plenty of fisticuffsin both Bill Bunk and Binnacle Jim, all in all it's too close to Popeye to be a co-incidence, Segar must have seen and been mightily impressed with Lowry's sailors, impressed enough to recycle them as the world renowned spinach-eater in later days. Other strips in the Vancouver World included many other strips copyright to Otis F. Wood.

Binnacle Jim also seems to have ben known as Peg-leg Pete and Binnacle Bill.

Everett E. Lowry has the following comic strips credited in the SFACA collection >

And His Name is Mr. Bones,


Bobby Make-Believe,


Bub--He's Always to Blame,


Prof. Fakem the Naturalist,


Simon Simple's First Lessons in Clownism, 1907

The three Bill Bunk tales from the Vancouver World were >

April 6, 1907. Bill Bunk and his Shipmate Sam, Unheard of Adventures of Two Sailors on a Desert Island.

April 13, 1907. Bill Bunk Captured By Pirates.

August 20, 1907. Bill Bunk and his Cargo of Monkeys.

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