I saw that the first volume of the new Popeye collection from Fantagraphics is going for $5.99 on Amazon. That's a little depressing: maybe it's just my ignorance of the book business, but that kind of discount doesn't look like a sign that the collection is selling well. This really is too bad: E.C. Segar's Thimble Theatre is on the All-Time list of Great American Arts & Culture Stuff.
If you're at all interested in American humor, comic strips, and cartooning, but you haven't read the original Popeye strips, you owe it to yourself to check this book out: you can't go wrong with that price!
Whoops - I'm not allowed to write about the Popeye comic strips without pointing out that the Popeye made famous in those cartoons is really a pretty superficial version of the Popeye in Segar's Thimble Theatre. Popeye is one of those fictional characters, like Dick Tracy or Conan, who loom (fairly) large in the Popular Culture Consciousness, even though most people are only familiar with their watered-down/simplified/cleaned-up/etc. versions.
And on a personal preference note: I've never really been able to get into Krazy Kat. Sure, I recognize and bow down before Herriman's masterful cartooning, but I'm still fairly cool towards it. But whenever I hear/read praise of Krazy Kat, Thimble Theatre is the comic strip that I picture: a vital, beautiful, idiosyncratic work of Homegrown American Genius.
Update: Whoops again - Fantagraphics has not been having any trouble selling their Popeye books. This was just an Amazon sale. Great news! But the sale is now over. Hope you didn't snooze on this one! (Thanks to Comics Comics readers for clueing me in!)