Thursday, 11 February 2010


Popeye the Sailor is a fictional hero famous for appearing in comic strips and animated films as well as numerous television shows. He was created by Elzie Chrisler Segar, and first appeared in the daily King Features comic strip Thimble Theatre on January 17, 1929. Popeye has now become the series' title as well.
Although Segar's Thimble Theatre strip, first published on December 19, 1919, was in its tenth year when Popeye made his debut, the sailor quickly became the main focus of the strip and Thimble Theatre became one of King Features' most popular properties during the 1930s. Thimble Theatre was carried on after Segar's death in 1938 by several writers and artists, most notably Segar's assistant Bud Sagendorf. The strip, now titled Popeye, continues to appear in first-run installments in its Sunday edition, written and drawn by Hy Eisman. The daily strips are reprints of old Sagendorf stories.
In 1933, Max and Dave Fleischer's Fleischer Studios adapted the Thimble Theatre characters into a series of Popeye the Sailor theatrical cartoon shorts for Paramount Pictures. These cartoons proved to be among the most popular of the 1930s, and the Fleischers—and later Paramount's own Famous Studios—continued production through 1957. The cartoons are now owned by Warner Bros. Animation and Turner Entertainment by way of King Features.
Since then, Popeye has appeared in comic books, television cartoons, arcade and video games, hundreds of advertisements and peripheral products, and a 1980-live action film directed by Robert Altman starring comedian Robin Williams as Popeye.
On January 1, 2009, 70 years since the death of his creator, Segar's character of Popeye (though not the various
films, TV shows, theme music and other media based on him) became public domain in most countries, but remains under copyright in the United States.

Characters and story
In most appearances (except during the World War II era), Popeye is a middle-aged sailor with a unique way of speaking, one eye apparently missing, disproportionately muscular forearms with two anchoe tattoos, thinning red hair, and an ever-present corncob pipe (which he toots like a steamship's whistle at times). Despite some mistaken characterizations over the years, Popeye is generally depicted as having only one blue eye, his left. In at least one Fleischer cartoon, Bluto refers to Popeye as a "one-eyed runt." It has never been revealed specifically how Popeye lost his right eye, although he claims it was in "the mos' arful battle" of his life. Later versions of the character had both eyes, with one of them merely being squinty, or "squinky" as he put it. According to the official site, Popeye is 34 years old and was born in a typhoon off Santa Monica
, California.
Popeye's strange, comic and often supernatural adventures take him all over the world, and place him in conflict with enemies such as the Sea Hag and Bluto. His main base of operations is the fictional town of Sweethaven. Popeye's father is the degenerate Poopdeck Pappy, who does not share his son's moral righteousness and is represented as having abandoned Popeye in some sources. Popeye's sweetheart (and in some sources, wife) over the years is Olive Oyl; although the two characters often bickered, especially in early stories after his first appearance. Popeye is the adoptive father of Sweet'Pea an infant foundling left on his doorstep. (Sweet Pea is a term of affection used by Popeye; in the cartoon We Aim to Please, he addressed Olive Oyl as "Sweet Pea" at one point.)
In addition to a gravelly voice and a casual attitude towards grammar, Popeye is known for having an apparent speech impediment (a common character-distinguishing device in early cartoons), which either comes naturally or is caused by the ever-present pipe in his mouth. Among other things, he has problems enunciating a trailing "t"; thus, "fist" becomes "fisk" (as sung in his theme song, which makes it conveniently rhyme with "risk") and "inf
ant" becomes "infink." This speech impediment even found its way into some of the titles of the cartoons. (Pictured right: Popeye and Olive).
Popeye is depicted as having superhuman strength, though the nature of his strength changes depending on which medium he is represented in. Originally, the comic-strip Popeye gained his strength and invulnerability in 1929 by rubbing the head of the rare Whiffle Hen. From early 1932 onward, especially the cartoons, Popeye was depicted as eating spinach to become stronger. The animated shorts depicted Popeye as ridiculously strong, but liable to be pummeled by the much larger Bluto before his eating of the spinach.
When fed up with this treatment or exhausted, he would eat spinach, which would instantly restore and amplify his strength to an even greater level. In the comic strips, spinach is presented as a panacea, infusing Popeye not only with his extraordinary strength, but also making him invulnerable to all sorts of threats (including bullets, a basilisk's petrifying gaze, or aliens' weapons) and even capable of feats like flight or extraordinarily fast swimming (usually with the aid of his pipe as a propeller). In the animated shorts, Popeye's ingestion of spinach – which is almost invariably canned – is equally fanciful and often involves squeezing the can until the top opens, or sucking the spinach through his pipe, and on rare occasions, even ingesting the can as well. Occasionally, spinach has a similar invigorating power on other characters.
Other differences in Popeye's story and characterization show up depending upon which medium he is presented in. While Swee'Pea is definitively the adopted child of Popeye in the comic strips, he is often depicted as being related to Olive Oyl in cartoons. The cartoons also occasionally feature family members of Popeye that have never appeared in the strip, notably his look-alike nephews Peepeye, Pupeye, Pipeye, and Poopeye.
Even though there is no absolute sense of continuity in the stories, certain plot and presentation elements remain mostly constant, including purposeful contradictions in Popeye's capabilities. Though at times he seems bereft of manners or uneducated, Popeye is often depicted as capable of coming up with solutions to problems that (to the police, or, most importantly, the scientific
community) seem insurmountable. Popeye has, alternatively, displayed Sherlock Holmes-like investigative prowess, determining for instance that his beloved Olive was abducted by estimating the depth of the villains' footprints in the sand, scientific ingenuity (as his construction, within a few hours, of a "spinach-drive" spaceship), or oversimplified (yet successful) diplomatic argumentation, by presenting to diplomatic conferences his own existence (and superhuman strength) as the only true guarantee of world peace.
Popeye's vastly versatile exploits are deemed even more amusing by a few standard plot elements. One is the love triangle between Popeye, Olive and Bluto, and the latter's endless machinations to claim Olive at Popeye's expense. Another is his (near-saintly) perseverance to overcome any obstacle to please Olive - who, quite often, treats him like dirt, and ends up being the only character capable of beating him up. Finally, in terms of the endless array of villain plots, Popeye mostly comes to the truth by "accidentally" sneaking on the villains, the moment they are bragging about their schemes' ingenuity, thus revealing everything to an enraged Popeye, who uses his "fisks" in the name of justice.