60s Popeye: Nah, giving this one a pass; watch some Fleischer Cartoons instead


So the next King Features 1960s Popeye in turn is Popeye de Leon, a Jack Kinney-produced short, and I don’t want to do it. It’s Popeye telling the story of his ancestor Popeye de Leon who came to Florida to find the Fountain of Youth. That’s mostly an okay Kinney-style tone poem of oddly timed dialogue and plot fragments. But it also features Popeye de Leon beating up (off-screen) the “Injuns” who’re shooting arrows at him, and has Olive-Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha as the local Indian woman, with Mae Questel trying to do something that’s a Generic Accent plus a Southern White Belle accent and I’m not being paid to deal with this. Besides, there’s a better Popeye Fountain of Youth plot going on in the vintage Thimble Theatre comics on Comics Kingdom right now. Read that instead.

Popeye chuckles at a heartbroken Wimpy. Wimpy declares, 'I am desperate, Susie will not let me sit on her lap. My only hope lies in the Fountain of Youth.' He jumps into the Fountain of Youth, and emerges as a Swee'Pea-like toddler. The infant Wimpy walks up to Susie the Sea-Nymph, a tall slender woman with Popeye-type arms, and Wimpy tips his hat and asks, 'May I sit on your lap now, Susie?'
Doc Winer’s Popeye for the 18th of January, 1939, reprinted the 18th of June, 2022. Comics Kingdom still credits Elzie Segar for the strip, but by the time this was printed he’d been dead for five months. Also, Wimpy: this is kinda creepy. (Susie’s arms are large like that because she’s a sea-nymph.)

So instead I’d like to say some kind words for the Max Fleischer cartoons channel on YouTube. They’ve been doing wonderful work in getting new, amazingly clear scans of Fleischer-produced cartoons. These have mostly been Koko the Clown cartoons, with some Talkartoons, and a couple of Color Classics and other miscellaneous pieces.

To date the only Popeye they have is a Popular Science short explaining how to make cartoons. It’s got footage of the making of Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp, and also of the device they use to put the cartoons against three-dimensional backgrounds. I imagine without knowing that this is because Warner Brothers has released quite good, high-quality prints of all the Fleischer Studios Popeye cartoons on DVD, and has got many of the Famous Studios shorts as video-on-demand discs too.

The Max Fleischer Cartoons channel is not doing the sort of full high-quality restorations that, say, Warner Brothers could. This is more very good scans from 35mm prints. Even that, though, is a huge step for many of these shorts. The sound (where available) is greatly improved and there’s so many details that are now visible now the cartoons are almost new.

Here’s the Talkartoons that Max Fleischer Cartoons has rescanned, along with my own reviews of the cartoons as based on whatever video I could find on the Internet a couple years ago:

A related channel, but with wider scope, is Not An Animation Historian’s, again on YouTube. This channel has many more studios and more decades of work. This includes a number of Fleischer cartoons, more Popeye, Betty Boop, and more obscure characters like Willie Whopper, Flip the Frog, and the human Tom and Jerry. Also some television cartoons, such as Clutch Cargo and Crusader Rabbit.

Folks going in to any of these should remember there’s racist and sexist presentations in some of these cartoons. Some of them are clearly warned about, such as by being in a playlist described as “banned cartoons’ or a title including “uncensored”. But there are many that just lurk ready to spoil an otherwise good time. Which is how I got to this point to start with.

Author: Joseph Nebus

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

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