Rediscovering the original Popeye cartoons.

Deleted scenes, commentary, and more.
Aug. 2 2007 7:23 AM

Popeye the Everyman

Rediscovering the weird, wonderful, working-class hero of the original Popeye cartoons. Plus: Why spinach.

Click here to launch a slide show.

Click the launch module to the left for a video slide show on the original Popeye comics and cartoons.

Like his fellow pop-culture icons from the early 20th century—Mickey Mouse, Dick Tracy, Buster Keaton—Popeye made such a big boom in his day that we are still hearing the echoes. Yet while most everyone knows the basics—the spinach, the drawn-out courtship of Olive Oyl—the sailor who first captured the American imagination has long since faded into obscurity. The Popeye of E.C. Segar's comic strip took part in bizarre adventures populated by a cast of Dickensian characters. And the Popeye of the original animated shorts was a workingman's hero, delighting Depression-era audiences by surviving in the big city with his fists and little else. The Saturday-morning-cartoon versions of Popeye that most of us remember, however, sanded away what had made the original character interesting, leaving only a genial tough guy with a diet rich in leafy greens.

Two recent projects have taken steps to restore Popeye to his original glory. Last fall, Fantagraphics Books published E.C. Segar's Popeye: "I Yam What I Yam," the first of what will be a six-volume collection reprinting Popeye's original comic strip appearances. And this week, Warner Home Video released Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938, a four-DVD set compiling the restored, uncut versions of the Popeye cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios for Paramount. The former made Popeye a household name; the latter made him a global superstar and a box-office draw whose popularity rivaled Mickey Mouse's.

Advertisement

Click here for a video slide show on the original Popeye comics and cartoons.

.

.

.

Keith Phipps is a Chicago-based freelance writer and editor specializing in film and other aspects of pop culture.

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 9:19 PM The Phone Call Is Twenty Minutes of Pitch-Perfect, Wrenching Cinema
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.