Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Popeye blog.

Even as I write, Popeye is on. We went to a certain big box electronics store over the weekend to buy a new phone, which we got. But naturally other items stick to the shopping cart in places like that, though we got out before too much financial damage was done. One of the extra items was a four-disc, 33-cartoon collection of Popeye. Well, I had to have that. A staple of my childhood. Now it’s Lilly and Ann’s turn.

A casual look around the Internet reveals that a lot of people have spent a lot of time writing about Popeye in all his many iterations, so I don’t think I’ll expound on the merits of Segar vs. Fleischer vs. King Features, Bluto as a misunderstood soul, Olive Oyl as a creature of paternalism, or even the Sailorman’s impact on spinach and the American diet.

I will put the cartoon in my context, however (this is my web log, after all). Like many of my generation, I watched Popeye after school. For years, in fact, it came on as part of Capt. Gus’ local kiddie show at 3:30 in the afternoon -– so Popeye was pretty much the first thing I watched after I got home, every day, for years, a sort of appendix to my formal grade-school education. It got us thinking, too: Popeye generated a fair amount of discussion among us children of the ’70s, and I even remember speculating about the ages of the cartoons. The ones with the sliding-hatch introductions seemed to be old beyond belief. As indeed they were.

Around about 1973, I started watching reruns of Star Trek right after school, so Popeye receded into childhood. I haven’t seen some of the cartoons on these discs for 30 years or more, which can be a strange feeling. It’s a strange collection too, because some are awful examples of the cartoon, while others are quite good, and they’re all mixed in with no theme from disc to disc, except for one that features all three of the Fleischer brothers’ two-reel cartoons from the ’30s: “Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp,” “Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves,” and “Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor.” Those three alone are worth the price of the collection, about $11.


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