March 30th, 2014


That Time I Almost Wrote a Popeye Vs. Mars Attacks Comic

Originally posted to my Tumblr, figured I'd drop it in here for those who only follow me on the LJ:

Weird day in a freelancer’s life: A little while back I got a call from IDW about a project that I didn’t think I’d have any ideas for, let alone any desire to write — Popeye Vs Mars Attacks (!@$&!!???). Now, okay, I love Segar’s Popeye like nobody’s business, and the Mars Attacks cards are crazy fun, but, c’mon, WTF, right? ‘Ja think I’m a Dr Frankenstein? Let’s show a little dignity, some common sense, let’s not go license crazy now, this way lies madness, etc.

Anyway, I turn it down, tell Sarah about it, we laugh, we agree comics is crazy, and I go take a shower. An hour later, I send IDW a pitch. Because comics people are as nuts as comics. And, hey, IDW digs it, we set up a rate and a schedule, and I’ve got a crazy gig, and then, hey, whuh-oh — for reasons I won’t go into in any real detail on — within a few more hours I’m out of the gig. I went from offer-to-pitch-to-acceptance-to-hired-to-gone in about seven hours, a new one in my book. I had and have no hard feelings with IDW over it, it wasn’t a situation they brought about, there was something in the equation that tossed a monkey wrench into the works as far as my participation went, and it was my choice to drop out. Crazy. Anyway, here’s the pitch letter I had sent IDW— nothing genius, but not a terrible approach for a headscratcher of a premise, imho:

I took a shower and, as always seems to happen in these situations, I had ideas for something I thought I had no ideas for. So I guess here’s a rough pitch, or at least a batch of thoughts churned up:

Popeye doesn’t believe in Martians, so the invasion prompts a Well, Blow Me Down response as saucers loom over town in a big panel. Base a bunch of panels/bits on the cards, include any martian machines/bugs/monsters that might work, but concentrate on the aliens/soldiers. Popeye barely reacts to the invasion beyond it being an alienistikal nuisance/bunch of thugs needing whipping. Everyone else would be up in arms. Roughhouse’s diner is burned and the stink permeates town like the black death cloud in War of the Worlds. Castor Oyl tries to profit off the invasion fears by selling people anti death ray outfits (sacks), ointments and masks, etc. Maybe a page or two done as “daily strips” with punchlines to break things up and add a little something to the mix. Popeye proves to be impossible to kill and a stubborn destructive force but the Marian forces are too big, the elongated affair  gets settled with a boxing match between Popeye and a huge, mutant multi-armed Martian. The match lasts days, highlights told through trading card-style panels, describing the back and forth punch-em-up the way the Mars Attacks cards describe the invasion/counter-attack. Maybe the Martians cheat and the Jeep or somebody lends a hand. Ultimately, Martians sent packing.

Need some business for Wimpy, Olive Oyl, etc, if possible. Maybe Wimpy is a traitor/collaborator for a while, need to re-read the strips to see how he behaves in similar situations. I think there’s a sceintist character in the strip, we could use him like one of those 50’s-scientist types who babbles about the menace, and is of no use whatsoever. But mostly a Popeye vehicle, one of those situations where he’s half dead half the time and just keeps going as the obstacles pile up and get crazier. Again, this is off the cuff stuff, but as a one-shot with these weird parameters I think it kind of needs to be fairly straightforward, boom boom boom (with jokes).

Fun fact: A fantasy project I used to carry around in my head for some time was to do Popeye comic with Stephen DeStefano. I’d get dumped off that one, too, if it ever happened. Arf arf arf.