Friday, 15 May 2009

Popeye Breaks Free at the Brook Gallery

Budleigh Salterton’s Brook Gallery is featuring pictures of a cinematic icon beloved by generations of film goers on both sides of the Atlantic.

The world's most famous fictional sailor has just broken free of copyright restrictions and to mark his newfound freedom, screenprinter John Patrick Reynolds has made a series of screenprints featuring Popeye images

To launch the screenprints, the Brook Gallery is exhibiting the work in May. This will be the first time since the character arrived in the public domain that a collection of Popeye screenprints has been printed or exhibited.

Reynolds has produced a series of eight screenprints, featuring some of the landmark events in Popeye's career. These include the very first panels in which Popeye appears, on January 17, 1929. Popeye is making his entrance some ten years into the history of the strip in which he appears: Thimble Theatre. He arrives fully formed, complete with pipe, tattoos and sarcasm.

Reynolds has also screenprinted panels showing the first time that Popeye eats spinach, the first time he hits somebody, the first time he makes a pass at Olive Oyl, and the first time he meets his arch enemy Bluto.

By European law, copyright restrictions of a creation lapse 70 years after the artist's death and American Elzie Segar - who invented Popeye - died in 1938.

Reynolds is a screenprinter who specialises in using images of comic characters in his work. Apart from the Popeye images, he also makes a series of images from classic British comics including the Beano and Dandy. For these, he has secured a unique license to plunder the archives of Britain's foremost comic publisher, DC Thomson.

“Screenprinting - which is very good at bold, flat colours - is ideally suited to comic characters and Popeye is a delight, especially these early images from the twenties and thirties, which are both funnier and darker than they were after Segar's death,” says Reynolds.

John Patrick Reynolds was born in East London in 1961. He studied English literature at the University of East Anglia, and became a journalist. From working on local newspapers in north London to war reporting in Croatia, his photography skills became more apparent, leading him then to explore screenprinting at the London Print Studios in West London. He had his first solo show at the Fourth Street Photo Gallery in New York. He lives and works in Maida Vale, London, with his wife Kathryn, a New Yorker.

The Brook Gallery specialises in limited edition, original prints and continues their series of outstanding exhibitions with work by celebrated artist Paula Rego as their major summer exhibition. The Brook will also be exhibiting at the Affordable Art Fair in Bristol from 14 to 17 May, see

To purchase work online and for more information on the JP Reynolds exhibition go to Brook Gallery opens every day during exhibitions, except Sunday mornings, from 10.30 am to 5.00 pm. Call (00 44) (0)1395 443 003 for more information or email

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