And Then There’s Another New Popeye Cartoon, Which I Can Maybe Have An Opinion About


I’m still figuring to write up some thoughts about the whole Stan Freberg show given the recent listen. I just haven’t had time. So I’ll go for something that ought to be quicker.

I’d noticed a third of the Popeye’s Island Adventures cartoons come out and, hey, it’s only two minutes. That should be easy enough to think about.

Once again there aren’t any credits I can find. I only know the title — Feeling Blue — because of how it’s captioned on the YouTube page.

Eugene the Jeep has another, even bigger role this short than the past two. So I appreciate their attempting to cater to me. I’m curious if this is coincidence, or if the writers like Eugene’s plot-bearing potential. Or if it’s easier to write a mute character in cartoons that have to be dialogue-free. Could be any of this.

There’s no Olive Oyl this short either. Nor is there really a fight between Popeye and Bluto. I’m glad that these cartoons apparently aren’t obliged to have Olive Oyl or, presumably, anyone but Popeye in every short. It can help storywriting to have a template, but it’s a bad idea to include stuff only because the template demands it.

It’s a bit of a weird story. Eugene plants blue spinach(?) in Popeye’s garden. I like the start, partly because it’s cute to see Eugene being unrealistically impatient for his spinach to grow. Partly because it evokes the Pink Panther and the Naked Guy battling over whether the house will be painted pink or blue, or any of the other two-visions cartoons they did. That might be coincidence. (Surely coincidence is that Eugene and Pink are both, basically, mute characters.)

Then it gets weird: the blue spinach grows giantic, and Popeye has some weird allergic reaction to it and ends up with a blue nose. He eats spinach to cure himself, which mostly makes sense when you consider what spinach has done for him in the past, including bringing him back from disintegration. This time it misfire and makes him balloon up to a gigantic blue Popeye who scares Bluto off and … you know, what the heck am I watching? Because this is kind of weird. Not as weird as that 1960s Popeye where he tries to fix a faucet and accidentally floods the world, but still, kind of weird. Eugene fixes things with a banana peel and some Jeep magic and makes a smoothie. Fair enough solution and punch line and … you know, what the heck am I watching?

I should say, I’m not angry at the cartoon or anything. I’m entertained. It’s likable enough. But something in it feels less true to the things I love in Popeye than, say, the snowball-fight episode did. I’m not going to say they’re doing it wrong, or even wrong for me. Like, if I complain I don’t know the rules of Eugene’s magic here? Why would blue spinach turn Popeye blue? Why would eating regular spinach make Popeye blimp out? … Well, I learn what his magic does by seeing him do things. And what possible mechanism for the blimping out could make sense? I accepted his abilities to forecast the future; why not to conjure a pitcher of water into existence?

But I feel uneasy yet. Maybe it’s over things that the animators work out with experience. Maybe it’s over things I need to come and appreciate for this version of Popeye. I think it’s a misstep to have Popeye be the reactive, almost passive, figure in his cartoon, as much as I like to see Eugene driving the action. Mind, that is a problem with almost every cartoon Popeye has ever shared with an animal, going back to the 30s. And I don’t mean to be an Old about this. These cartoons aren’t the ones I grew up loving, and that’s all right. Those cartoons are still available, and don’t seem to be working for a new audience. Worth trying something with a different tone.

Yes, I caught the cameo of the white sailor’s garb that Popeye got put in because the War was on and the national defense needed Popeye to be less interesting. Cute bit.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

10 thoughts on “And Then There’s Another New Popeye Cartoon, Which I Can Maybe Have An Opinion About”

    1. She … was in about the right position to do that, yes. There were surely too many branches in the way for her to get an up-skirt look at Ziggy but I’m not going in to check.

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  1. This cartoon was just so disjoint and nonsensical. Nothing flowed from one scene to another, and even within a single scene things move too fast and disconnectedly for any of the gags (such as they are) to have any time to land.

    This feels like something outsourced to a cheap production company made up of would-be animators who have never learned anything about timing or editing. Or they’re trying to cram a 6-minute short into 2 minutes, or something.

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    1. I’m all right with the story being baffling on the grounds that the premise is Young Popeye tossed around by forces he can’t understand or control. So my not knowing why Blue Spinach ought to turn Popeye blue or, mixed with regular, turn him into a giant is fine. Audience identification with the lead character and all.

      The editing I like less, though. It feels jumpy to me, and the camera seems to move more than it needs to. But this might be the best way to fit the story to the two-minute runtime. Or it might be what they think the target audience expects to see in a cartoon. I admit still not knowing who the target audience is, exactly, except that they’re hoping it won’t be people looking for dialogue. The second cartoon had better editing and camera moves, or at least ones that better match my expectations.

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    1. OK, now Partial Post is a cartoon I had no memories of. But on watching it (there’s a copy at https://www.whataboutthad.com/2018/05/19/popeyes-partial-post-by-gene-deitch/) I … still have only faint memories. But that has got a nice bizarreness. It probably would be a better cartoon if it lost about a minute of runtime, since somehow a story about “Popeye battles a mailbox from space” finds time to get dull in the middle.

      I unironically enjoy the Gene Deitch Popeye, and for that matter Tom and Jerry, cartoons. Even when they’re bad, they’re bad in interesting ways.

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    1. It has! I would legitimately like to know more about the production of this cartoon, since it’s got so many strange choices, yet works hard to implement them in interesting ways.

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