Comic Location To Visit: Crystal City, TX

By | Monday, December 10, 2012 1 comment
"What the heck is in Crystal City, Texas," you may ask. The answer is the comic strip and cartoon classic, Popeye.
Incorporated in 1910, Crystal City is the county seat of Zavala County, Texas and quickly found spinach-growing to be its dominant industry. The town (which even today is home to fewer than 10,000 people) openly wanted to tout its ability to grow spinach beyond simply citing itself as the "Spinach Capitol [sic] of the World." So in the mid-1930s, they held a contest to design an appropriate statue. A practicing architect originally from Lithuania, Max Sandfield had his design chosen (although it was modified somewhat from his original submission). The statue was given the blessing of Popeye's creator himself, E.C. Segar.

The original statue is safely ensconced in the City Hall to protect it from vandals. A fiberglass reproduction is what sits outside. I can't seem to find reference to what the original is actually made out itself. Sandfield had originally suggested Texas limestone, but that was evidently nixed.

There are also Popeye statues in Chester, IL (Segar's hometown); Alma, AR ("Spinach Capital of the World"); and Springdale, AR (home of the Allen Canning Company which produces "Popeye Spinach"). The statue in Crystal City, however, is the oldest, debuting less than ten years after Popeye's creation. It is also the only one officially endorsed by Segar himself, as he died a year after it had been erected.
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Matt K said...

Chester, IL has its own comic book format tour of the town's Popeye connections, led by Popeye himself, though. Top that, Crystal City.