The Battle of the Century

So what fight was the actual Battle of the Century?

Jack Johnson and James J. Jeffries?
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier?
Captain Easy and Bull Dawson?

Maybe Stan Laurel and Noah Young:

All contenders, but contenders only.

The Battle of the (20th) Century was precipitated by the introduction of Bluto on September 12, 1932.

above: the first appearance

While it may have been the morrow in comic strip time, in real time it took a week for the fight to begin.
It was on September 19, 1932, 87 years ago today, that the Battle of the Century began.

It lasted not for a couple of panels, or even for a couple of strips …

E.C. Segar drew it out for two full weeks!

The battle finally ended two days after the above strips.
By that time both the participants and the readers were exhausted.

The entire sequence, from setting up the Bluto intro to the fight’s aftermath (the only Bluto story by E. C. Segar), can be read in volume three of Fantagraphics’ E. C. Segar’s Popeye series, appropriately subtitled “Let’s You and Him Fight.”

Both cartoonist Segar and syndicate King Features recognized this as An Event, issuing a piece to newspapers to promote, what turned out to be, an historic episode:

The extraordinary genius of E. C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre Starring Popeye can be read
daily at Comics Kingdom, currently running a story from 1936 featuring The Jeep and Wimpy
(highly recommended).


The fight sequence comes via Elton Portilho
The Bluto introductory panel from
The Bluto promo courtesy of Marc Greisinger