Google celebrates comics again today with a Doodle on its homepage marking what would’ve been the 115th birthday of Popeye creator E.C. Segar.
Born on Dec. 8, 1894, in Chester, Illinois, Elzie Crisler Segar worked as a drummer and film projectionist at a local theater while taking a correspondence course in cartooning. He eventually moved to Chicago, and was hired by the Chicago Herlad, which in March 1916 published Segar’s first (but short-lived) comic strip, Charlie Chaplin’s Comedy Capers.
After media mogul William Randolph Hearst bought and closed the Herald, Segar was sent to King Feature Syndicate in New York City, where he created Thimble Theatre, a strip starring a coy flapper named Olive Oyl, her fiance Harold Hamgravy and various members of the Oyl family.
The comic debuted on Dec. 19, 1919, in the New York Journal, but it would be another 10 years before the now-legendary Popeye would appear, initially only as a supporting character for one storyline. However, when the sailor bowed out on June 27, 1929, reader complaints poured in; a few weeks later, Popeye was back for good.
With the corncob pipe-chomping, spinach-eating “one-eyed runt” as the star, Thimble Theatre became one of the syndicate’s most popular strips during the 1930s. By the middle of the decade, Segar was earning a reported $100,000 a year.
The cartoonist died on Oct. 12, 1938, after a lengthy illness. He was 43.
This is at least the third time in recent months Google has showcased comics on its homepage. The Internet giant previously celebrated the 50th anniversary of Asterix, and marked the launch of its iGoogle comics themes with a DC Comics Doodle.