A screenprint of mine has debunked a myth about why Popeye eats spinach.
This is the screenprint in question – it is taken from a 1932 cartoon strip in which Popeye encounters spinach for the first time.
It was used as evidence in a paper which examined the much-repeated myth that Popeye eats spinach for its iron content – it shows that the attraction was in fact Vitamin A.
This paper is called: SPINACH, IRON and POPEYE:
Ironic lessons from biochemistry and history on the
importance of healthy eating, healthy scepticism
and adequate citation
By Dr Mike Sutton (Reader in Criminology, Nottingham Trent University, UK)
The full text can be found here:
Dr Sutton explains that he bought the screenprint during the course of his research:
“The picture in Fig 3 is of a limited screen print (owned by the author) by the printer John Patrick
Reynolds of Segar’s original from July 3rd 1932. The colours in the screen print are slightly different
from the original and a garden hoe is missing. Nevertheless, the text is identical to the original, which
can be found reproduced on page 162 of Segar (2007). The author bought the picture in 2010 during
the course of his research for this paper.”
Popeye was originally a minor character in a strip syndicated in American newspapers. It was called Thimble Theatre, which has been running since 1919, with Olive Oyl and her brother Caster Oyl some of the main characters. The new character soon stole the show, however, and the strip was named for him. By the way, it was only when I started screenprinting the character that I realised that his name refers to the fact that he only has a single eye, the left one. The right eye is always depicted as a sort of asterisk.
Popeye and Olive now have the status of an archetypal couple – they are obviously attracted to each other, but they often fall out and row, often bitterly. Although the strip has been running for nearly 100 years, the way the characters behave seem quite modern.