Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cartoon a Day: Popeye the Sailor

Popeye the Sailor
Directed by Dave Fleischer
Available on: Popeye the Sailor Vol. 1

I had a great Easter weekend, but busy. My parents were in town and we did four puppet shows at four Easter services, thus the break in blogging. However, with my birthday just a few weeks away, my parents gave me some early gifts. One was the first DVD set of Popeye cartoons, so I think we'll focus on the one-eyed sailor this week.

This is the very first short to feature Popeye, it is technically a part of the Betty Boop series even though she only makes a cameo. The basic premise that would direct most of the Popeye films for years to come is in place right from the beginning. Popeye and Bluto compete for the affections of Olive Oyl, a fight ensues, Popeye eats some spinach and wins Olive.

Popeye is a unique character in animation history. He wasn't born on film, but came from comic strips. But his film career only added to the popularity of the character. One of the commentators on this DVD set describes him as being the first superhero, and I suppose that 's true.

He's also a somewhat absurd character that perfectly fits the outlandish style of the Fleischer studio. It's interesting note in this first cartoon that Popeye, Olive, and Bluto are the only human characters. The other characters are anthropomorphic animals, which is something that would not continue as the series progressed.

It has been so long since I really watched the Popeye shorts. They were daily viewing as a kid, but I must admit I have avoided them as an adult as many of the showings on Cartoon Network in recent years have been colorized abominations (curse you Ted Turner). It's going to be fun looking at these shorts again!

No comments: