Cartoonist Randy Milholland Gladly Gets Paid Tuesday for a Sunday Popeye Comic Strip Today

When Randy Milholland’s first-grade teacher asked what he wanted to do when he grew up, he said, “I want to draw Popeye,” the comic hero he loved with from the newspaper and TV.

“Maybe you should choose a more obtainable goal,” the teacher responded.

The 46-year-old San Antonio cartoonist had the last laugh.

As the new Popeye Sunday cartoonist Randy Milholland gets the full page treatment.

For more than two decades, he’s also been a successful webcomic creator, so he knows what it takes to write and illustrate stories and characters that keep readers coming back…

Milholland appears to be the perfect fit for the job. He’s a “Popeye” savant who can speak in exquisite detail about the strip’s history… 

Milholland’s plans, approved by his editors, call for updating the strip to bring it into the 21st century in hopes of enticing new readers to the fold…

It’ll be a big job. Once one of the most successful newspaper strips in the country, appearing in as many as 600 papers daily, “Popeye” has fallen on hard times in recent decades. Today the Sunday strip of new comics, which Milholland also writes, appears in only 20 newspapers worldwide. Just eight papers carry reruns of classic strips on weekdays.

“I retconned Olive’s sister-in-law Cylinda Oyl as being Afro-Latina,” he said, referring to the practice of changing a previously established narrative in a work of fiction. “I also want to bring in more characters who aren’t heterosexual. I don’t live in that purely straight white world, and I don’t think a lot of other people do either.”

In recent years, whenever the strip utilized tropes like men dressing as women, it was played for laughs, Milholland said.

“But that wasn’t always the case,” he added. “If you go by today’s definition, Popeye was gender fluid.”

During the strip’s early days, for example, Popeye once met an orphaned girl who lamented that she didn’t have a mother.

“So Popeye dresses up as a woman and says, ‘I’m your mom now,’”

© King Features Syndicate

Richard A. Marini, at The San Antonio Express-News, takes a deep dive
into Randy’s approach to the classic Sailor Man and the new Popeye.


Mike Rhode