Friday, 24 February 2012

Squinteye The Sailor

Cerebus Jam #1 (April 1985)
Art by Terry Austin, Dave Sim & Gerhard

(from the introduction to Squinteye in Cerebus Jam #1)
Terry Austin is known for drawing Popeye into the backgrounds of comic book pages. Fortunately they are usually pages he is working on so no one gets upset. Terry got the pages with border tape, lettering, finished Cerebus figures and roughed in Popeye and Bluto figures. All of Squinteye's costume detail, wooden leg and dead jeep were Terry's innovations pencil and ink. Quite simply, Terry is the best, cleanest and most versatile inker in the business. Period. Gerhard did everything else, but his love of the sea slowed him down to about a half page a day pace. He's such a Spunky.

(from a letter to Dave Sim published in Cerebus #153, December 1991)

Dear Dave,
This is a belated thank you for your return of the artwork from Cerebus Jam #1 and to finally pass along this xerox from my sketchbook of that period. I've have had it sitting around the studio for a month or more, but it took the arrival of your recent Cerebus reprint issue with your own Squinteye sketchbook page that provided the push for me to finally bundle it up and get it out of here and into your hands.

It is the page where I sat down to hammer out what the finished version of Squinteye would be after receiving your pages with 'Squinkeye' sketched in. Finding extra room on the page after finishing up, my mind turned to other cast members ageing and what effect that might have. I decided Olive would rebel against growing older by dressing younger, hair dye and (carrying it to the extreme, of course) joining a punk band. Bluto's incarnation came after dinner at a local Mexican restaurant with Bret and Pat Blevins. We were seated near a too-loud, 3-piece suited, chain smoking, martini-swilling commuter-type who made dining a chore for the rest of us by his determination to have more BIG FUN than anyone else in the room and make sure that we all knew it too! At some point I realised he was Bluto, shaven, cleaned up a bit, but still a bully... Swee'pea, I realised would want to rebel against his adopted daddy when he hit his teen-aged years, eschewing violence for a more sedate philosophy.

Anyway, I was amused when I ran across this page recently and I thought I'd pass it along to you be way of saying thanks. Feel free to print it somewhere if you'd like (and your lawyer deems it prudent...)

Your current work continues to interest and oft-times astonish. You and Ger do a consistently fine job.

Thanks again for all the comics!
Squinteye preparatory sketches (circa 1985)
Art by Terry Austin

Popeye Vols 1-6 by E.C. Segar are available to buy from Fantagraphics Books.

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