Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Toppers: Wiggle Line Movie


When E.C. Segar was battling leukemia and only sporadically able to work on Thimble Theatre the show had to go on, and other hands kept the franchise running. In much of 1938 someone other than Segar handled the Sunday much of the time, but Segar rallied and penned (or at least signed) the Sunday strip from July 17 to October 2. During this short period he came up with his last new contribution to the Sunday toppers, the Wiggle Line Movie

Unlike earlier activity panels like Funny Films that theoretically gave kids a moving picture but didn't really succeed, the Wiggle Line Movie actually offered a successful but extremely limited animation. In each installment you got a funny face and a wiggly line; put the two together in the prescribed method and you get a wacky face with moving eyes. Worth the effort? I dunno, but the feature didn't last long so maybe the syndicate wasn't too impressed. 

Wiggle Line Movie ran with the Sundays of September 11 through November 13 1938, during which time (on October 13), Segar died. After October 2, Segar's last signed Sunday, the art and writing may have been in the hands of King bullpenner Doc Winner, which seems to be the consensus opinion. But I wonder, given that the art and writing is a cut above what I would expect of Winner, if perhaps Bud Sagendorf or others were involved. In Sagendorf's book Popeye - The First 50 Years he says that he started working on the activity panels "after 1938," but maybe he jumped in a little earlier than he could recall many years later. Any Thimble Theatre scholars out there who can shed some light?


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