Popeye the Sailor and his crew have been enjoyed by Italian audiences for decades. The Italian leader Benito Mussolini banned American comic strips in Italy before the Second World War. Popeye’s comic strip adventures were so popular the ban had to be lifted due to public outcry. According to Fred Andrieu from The Grand Comic Data Base, eight hundred and sixteen Popeye comic books were published in Italy between 1963 and 1994. A later series of fifty five editions were printed from 1996 to 2000. Much of the artwork in the comic books was provided by Italian illustrator Sandro Dossi.
Dossi began illustrating Felix the Cat for Italian comic books during the 1960’s. Besides Popeye and Felix he has drawn Tom & Jerry, The Flintstones and The Pink Panther. The artist sent an original drawing of Popeye, Olive Oyl and Swee’pea to Nicola Orichuia. Orichuia, along with Jim Pinzino, own I AM Books which is the first Italian American Book store in the country located at 189 North Street in Boston’s North End. An Italian-born journalist, Orichuia began Bostoniano magazine in 2013.
Sandro Dossi’s drawing depicts the famous cartoon characters thanking Orichuia for his contributions to the Italian-American community. Of course the artwork refers to each personality as they’re known in Italy. Popeye is Braccio Di Ferro, Olive Oyl is Olivia while baby Swee’pea is called Pisellino.