Elzie Crisler Segar's Thimble Theatre first appeared in 1919. Popeye did not join the ensemble cast until 1929, but he quickly became the central character, reducing Castor Oyl to a bit-player and pushing out Ham Gravy entirely. So complete was the sailor-man's conquest of the feature that neither of those original stars even appears in this 1930s cast drawing, and by the 1940s the strip had become Popeye. Bill Blackbeard calls him the "first superhero of them all" and, despite his cartoony nature, Popeye has much in common with later super-doers. The sailor has become an enduring icon, and has made unofficial appearances in both DC and Marvel comics.
Captain Strong (left) has appeared a few times in DC comics. An obvious tribute to Popeye, his strength comes from a rare seaweed. The cameo appearance in Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross's Marvels (above) places in the Marvel Universe a character inspired by the famous Sailor.