Saturday, August 21, 2010
Eugene and Bernice
Eugene the Jeep and Bernice the Whiffle Hen - two of the great fantasy characters created by Elzie Segar for his Thimble Theatre comic strip.
Eugene a magical creature that could predict the future and travel through the fourth dimension, was introduced into the strip on April 1, 1936. Segar insisted that that there was no reason for the Jeep to be introduced on the infamous holiday, it was just a coincidence.
Bernice the Whiffle Hen was the reason for Popeye's introduction into the strip. Whiffle Hen's give their owners incredible luck by rubbing the three hairs on it's head. Castor Oyl received Bernice from his uncle and wanted to try the bird's luck on Dice island, a casino resort. He buys a boat with Olive's then boyfriend Ham Gravy and hire Popeye to sail it for them.
In the climax of the story after Castor and crew clean up at the resort, Snork the owner's henchmen shoots Popeye numerous times. Popeye escapes death rubbing Bernice's head through the night and emerges the next morning to knock Snork to kingdom come.
A lot of Popeye fans believe this is the reason for his super strength. Segar established the eating of spinach a few years later but displayed super strength before this.
Which is right? In my opinion they both contribute to the powers of our one-eyed champion.
And thanks to Segar we were introduced to great characters like Jeeps, Whiffle Hens, Goons, Sea Hags and many more to the Popeye Universe.