Olive Oyl gazes into space

Posted by John Patrick Reynolds on

NEW SALE ITEM! (Only four left.)

Olive Oyl gazes into space. I like the way the white space in front of her gives her thoughts room to resonate. And I’ve also come to love great areas of simple colour, something that screenprinting is very good at.

This image is a detail of a panel first published in the late 1920s.

All my screenprints of Popeye and Olive Oyl are made using drawings by the artist who invented Popeye, Elzie Segar, who died in 1938. 

Popeye was originally a minor character in a strip syndicated in American newspapers. It was called Thimble Theatre, and started in 1919, with Olive Oyl and her brother Caster Oyl some of the main characters. Popeye first appeared as an incidental character in 1929 and stole the show; the strip was soon named after him.

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 characters have been around for nearly 100 years, the way they behave seems quite modern.

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. Spinach – which became an essential part of the Popeye makeup – was not originally part of his setup. The iron-rich leaf first made an appearance in the early 1930s, when he was running away from a bull and accidentally landed in a back garden full of the stuff. He didn’t even know what it was, and had to be told.

Medium size: 48cms x 38cms. Available on request – two-week lead time. Contact jpr@thecomicartwebsite.com if you would like one.

Limited edition, handpulled screenprint; printed on cotton, mould-made paper milled in Somerset; printed in the UK; signed and numbered out of 200 in pencil by the printer, John Patrick Reynolds

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