Welcome to the two-hundred and seventy-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and seventy-five.
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COMIC LEGEND: An installment of Thimble Theatre was rejected by Elzie Crisler Segar's syndicate because it was too gruesomely depicted a cow being slaughtered.
STATUS: False (but Lots of Truthiness Involved)
Reader Kelly wrote in a couple of years back to ask:
I remember seeing a Popeye/Thimble Theater comic strip from the old days that was rejected by EC Segar's syndicate because it showed the gluttonous Wimpy butchering a cow (or maybe horse) and was therefore deemed too gory for readers. The strip was published in an book about Popeye, and the last time I saw the book it was in my junior high school library around 1982 if that gives you any help. I remember think the strip was weird at the time and I'd love to see is again.
The strip Kelly is thinking of was the October 1, 1933 edition of Thimble Theatre.
First off, quickly, let's get the "false" part done with. The comic WAS accepted by Segar's syndicate, King Features Syndicate. That said, a number of major newspapers censored it on their own. I don't know which paper did what, so if you're ever in your local library and wish to check to see what YOUR local paper did with the strip, feel free to check the archive out and let me know and I'll post it here as an update!
The original art to the piece was in Bud Sagendorf's collection. He was Segar's assistant on the strip at the time and a number of years later (following Segar's untimely death in 1938) Sagendorf began a nearly four-decade run on the strip himself, going right up until the end of the daily strip in 1994.
In any event, enough yapping - you all just want to see the strip, right? I know Kelly has been waiting 28 years to see it again! So here is the original art for the original strip (Heritage Auctions sold the original art for over $15,000 a few years back!)...
(click on the image to enlarge)
I can see how it would be seen as a bit controversial! It's funny, though!