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Elzie Crisler Segar (December 8, 1894 – October 13, 1938) was an Americanmarker cartoonist, best known as the creator of Popeye, a character who first appeared in 1929 in his newspaper comic strip Thimble Theatre.

Segar was born and raised in Chester, Illinoismarker, a small town near the Mississippi River. The son of a handyman, his earliest work experiences included assisting his father in house painting and paper hanging. Skilled at playing drums, he also provided musical accompaniment to films and vaudeville acts in the local theater, where he was eventually given the job of film projectionist. At age 18, he decided to become a cartoonist. He worked hard on a correspondence course in cartooning from W.L. Evans, of Cleveland, Ohiomarker, in which he had invested $20. He said that after work he "lit up the oil lamps about midnight and worked on the course until 3am."

Segar moved to Chicagomarker where he met Richard Felton Outcault, creator of The Yellow Kid and Buster Brown. Outcault encouraged him and introduced him at the Chicago Herald. On March 12, 1916, the Herald published Segar's first comic, Charlie Chaplin's Comedy Capers, which ran for a little over a year. In 1918, he moved on to Hearst's Chicago Evening American where he created Looping the Loop. Segar married Myrtle Johnson that year; they had two children. He died at age 43 after a long illness.


Managing editor William Curley thought Segar could succeed in New Yorkmarker, so he sent him to King Features Syndicate, where Segar worked for many years. He began by drawing Thimble Theatre for the New York Journal. The strip made its debut on December 19, 1919, featuring the characters Olive Oyl, Castor Oyl and Horace Hamgravy, whose name was quickly shortened in the strip to simply "Ham Gravy". They were the strip's leads for about a decade. In January 1929, when Castor Oyl needed a mariner to navigate his ship to Dice Island, Castor picked up an old salt down by the docks named Popeye. Popeye's first words in the strip, when asked if he was a sailor, were: " 'Ja think I'm a cowboy?". The Popeye character stole the show and became the permanent featured character. Some of the other notable characters Segar created include J. Wellington Wimpy and Eugene the Jeep.

The Five-Fifteen/Sappo

Segar's Sappo (1933)
For King Features, he also created The Five-Fifteen in 1920; it was retitled Sappo in 1926.

Pronounciation of his name

Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest it was "SEE-gar". He commonly signed his work simply "Segar" or "E. Segar" above a drawn cigar. (At that time, the word "cigar" was often pronounced "SEE-gar" instead of the more proper "sih-GAR".)


After prolonged illness, Segar died of a liver disease at the age of 43. Segar's longtime assistant, Bud Sagendorf, took over the strip and continued it for decades.


The National Cartoonist Society created the Elzie Segar Award in his honor. This award is presented to an individual who has made a unique and outstanding contribution to the profession of cartooning.


  1. Funk, Charles Earle. What's the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.

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