Forrest Cowles Sagendorf (March 22, 1915 – September 22, 1994), better known as Bud Sagendorf, was an American cartoonist, notable for his work on King Features Syndicate's Thimble Theatre Starring Popeye comic strip.
Born in Wenatchee, Washington, Sagendorf was three years old when his father died. He arrived at age three in Santa Monica, California with his sister Helen and his mother, who opened a beauty parlor. It was Helen who gave him the nickname Bud. His first job was as a newsboy, selling the Los Angeles Herald-Express on the street. He began his cartoon career while a teenager, working for $50 a week as the assistant of cartoonist E. C. Segar on his Thimble Theatre and Sappo comic strips. Following Segar's death in 1938, Sagendorf moved to New York and began illustrating marketing materials for King Features, while also developing Popeye toys and games. In 1940, he married his high school sweetheart, Nadia Crandall, and they eventually moved to rural Connecticut.
From 1948 to 1967, Sagendorf was the writer-artist of Dell's, Gold Key's, and King Comic's Popeye comic book. In 1959, he finally assumed command of the Thimble Theatre comic strip. In 1964, he explained his working methods:
Any part of my work can be interrupted for something important like golf or bowling. There are about 20 syndicated cartoonists living in my area, and they all enjoy dragging a fellow comic artist away from his drawing board. I hate to admit it, but I’m a deadline worker and do my best when my back is against the wall. In respect to ideas, I don’t buy gags; I do them myself… with the help of my family. My son, Brad, is developing into a great idea man. I made the mistake of paying him for an idea once, and he quickly lost his amateur standing. I do not like to write out a complete daily continuity too far in advance. When I have a continuity idea, I blab an outline into a small tape recorder and file it away until I’m ready for it. The day-to-day strips are done on a weekly basis. I feel that too-tight writing holds me down, and I lose the spontaneous ideas that always pop up when I’m working. As for my background, I started drawing at an early age because it was easier to make pictures than to learn to spell. I was born in Wenatchee, Washington. While I was still in high school I went to work for the late E. C. Segar, the creator of Popeye
. I saw the birth of many wonderful characters: Swee’-pea, Eugene the Jeep, Alice the Goon and Poop-deck Pappy. In recent years I have added Granny and Betty Beasky. After Segar’s death in 1938, I was asked by King Features to continue the strip. Except for a period as an assistant comic editor, I have been doing the daily and Sunday Popeye
A year after those remarks, he talked on television about Popeye when he appeared on What's My Line? (December 5, 1965).
He continued the strip until 1986. Wanting to spend more time with his family and confronted with failing eyesight, Sagendorf reduced his output to Sunday strips while Bobby London continued with the Popeye dailies. Sagendorf wrote and drew the Popeye Sunday strips until his death. King Features continues to run reprints of Sagendorf's daily strips, while artist Hy Eisman writes and draws new Sunday strips.
Sagendorf was seventy-nine years old when he died in Sun City, Florida on September 22, 1994 from brain cancer, survived by his wife, Nadia, and three daughters.
In 2011, Craig Yoe wrote a biographical profile of Sagendorf and collected a selection of his outstanding comic book stories in Popeye: The Great Comic Book Tales by Bud Sagendorf.