60s Popeye: Canine Caprice, starring Roger and incidentally also Popeye


It’s been a while since I was studying the King Features Syndicate-made run of Popeye cartoons. I’m going through the roster as King Features gathered them on their YouTube channel, so these follow no logic I’m aware of. For today, it’s a Gene Deitch-produced cartoon from 1962, Canine Caprice. Let’s enjoy.

Gene Deitch, famously, didn’t care about Tom and Jerry when he got the contract to make Tom and Jerry shorts. Didn’t feel the characters were interesting. What I’ve never known is what he thought about the Popeye shorts. The only important animator whom I know to have said a bad word about the 30s Popeyes, for example, is Chuck Jones. And that’s only if we count as negative his observing that they’re scrawny-little-hero versus big-round-bully, like any generic generic black-and-white cartoon.

What gets me wondering is this short. It’s got Popeye in it, but it’s all driven by Roger the Dog. Who’s a talking dog that Popeye buys, in falling for a talking-dog scam. And who takes over the short, messing up Popeye’s life for not much obvious reason. The dynamic’s a lot like that of Shorty, from three of the most loathed Famous Studios cartoons. But Shorty you always knew what his deal was. Why does Roger not talk in front of Olive Oyl until the end of the short? No idea.

Roger and Shorty are not a bad concept. As he got domesticated, Popeye stopped looking for fights, and he got boring. A character pulling Popeye into trouble fixes that. And if you think I’m making a case for Scrappy-Doo, well, yeah. Scrappy being a relative answers why Scooby puts up with him. We don’t get so much information for Roger. I’m still stuck on why Roger didn’t talk to Olive Oyl when they first met, and why Popeye talked to him after that. Roger firing up Popeye’s jealousy over the piano teacher makes sense, although Olive Oyl could have said something sooner. At least there Roger had good intentions.

A beat-up Popeye holds his boxing trophy. Inside the trophy is Roger the dog, looking sheepish and apologetic up at Olive Oyl, who's surprised and irked at all this.
Truth coming out of her Boxing Trophy to apologize to Mankind for making all this unnecessary fuss.

The story starts hobbled. But granting that, the rest of the short holds up. Deitch’s animation looks cheap, yes, but the characters all move, with a good range of motion. You don’t get characters standing and blinking. The dialogue’s okay enough. It includes Popeye’s weird statement that “fights bores me”, which can only make sense if he means televised fights that he’s not in. Or Popeye’s domestication and boringness got really out of control.

I, too, am curious why Popeye’s packing a valise full of spinach cans. In the Deitch cartoons he never seems to have a can on him, so, what is this for?

Anyway, I wish Roger a happy time moving in with Wilbur Weston, a man whose life he can’t possibly screw up any worse than Wilbur can.

Reposted: The 33rd Talkartoon: The Robot, surely Not A Time-Traveller’s Prankish Insertion To History


I’d wanted to do my statistics recap, looking at readership through September. And then stuff got in the way, so please instead consider another look at an oddly anachronistic Betty Boop cartoon. It’s not just in having a robot, it’s in how it seems like a Bimbo cartoon from six or even twelve months earlier. Still neat to see, though.


I have to apologize a bit for today’s Talkartoon. Not for the content; for the presentation. I can’t find it on archive.org. I’ve found it on YouTube, and that looks good, but the link might expire when I’m not looking. If you’re reading this sometime in the future and find that it has, please let me know and I’ll try to fix things. Might even be on archive.org by then.

The cartoon was released the 5th of February, 1932, just a couple weeks after Boop-Oop-A-Doop. There’s no credits for the animators; not even guesses. It’s the last Talkartoon we can say that about.

The cartoon feels anachronistic. For the first time in ages Bimbo’s got the starring role. And he’s got his older, more screwball-character model design. Betty Boop — well, is Betty Boop even in this one? The cartoon was included in the Complete Betty Boop Collection videotapes in the 90s, but on what grounds? She isn’t named, and she doesn’t look much like Betty Boop. Mostly; there’s the scene where she comes out of the circus tent about 4:50 in where she’s basically on model. She looks closer to the possibly proto-Betty-Boop who figured in Grand Uproar or Teacher’s Pest. And there are a lot of scenes where the camera puts the scene in a circle surrounded by black. Sometimes this irises out to a whole scene. It’s a common technique for cutting between scenes or setting focus that silent movies (cartoons and live-action) used all the time. It faded out with the coming of sound, for reasons I’m not sure about. Here it’s everywhere. Given all this I wonder if the cartoon wasn’t made months, maybe a year, earlier and not released until later on.

Oh yeah also it’s about Bimbo’s Robot. In 1932. If that weren’t bizarre enough the cartoon opens with Bimbo’s television. It’s common enough these days to tell stories about stuff that hasn’t been invented yet. It’s startling to realize they were telling stories about stuff that wasn’t yet invented that long ago. Yes, yes, there were experimental television rigs that could transmit upwards of four blurry lines of a Felix the Cat clock back then. It was still a thing for the imagination, not something everyday people could experience. It was a thing of the future, the way robots were too.

Well, since Bimbo wears his car to go boxing it’s more of a mecha than a robot properly. But the concept was still in rapid flux back then. They wouldn’t even discover how to pronounce “robot” so it doesn’t sound weird until 1964.

Despite the screwball-character model Bimbo isn’t a nutty character here, no more than any inventor in a cartoon is. It’s made up for by the story being an actual, successfully formed story. There’s clear motivation for everything Bimbo does, and it builds to a climax that makes sense. It’s a surprisingly non-zany cartoon, but it’s well-crafted.

I can’t say there are any jokes you’re likely to miss by blinking. The horse on top of Bimbo’s invention shack is good but it’s not much of a joke per se; it’s just atmospheric weirdness. Nor are there any real body horror jokes. I can’t figure out what’s going on at about 1:50; I think maybe a dart going through a fanciful heart got cut off by the framing? There’s some good camera work, when the car goes weaving all over the road and when Bimbo’s Robot gets punched high up above the ring. A mouse finally turns up ringing the bell about 4:25 in, and similarly later, and waving a flag during the parade at the end. And I get a good solid laugh from the referee cat’s fast count-out of One-Round Mike.

It’s overall a rather solid showing for Bimbo, who for a wonder gets to lead the flow of action. And for the cartoon, which sets up its premise and develops it without unmotivated weirdness. This might be the one flaw of the cartoon, in that there isn’t a baffling side to it. I’m sorry there’s not information available on who wrote or animated the cartoon. The cartoon shows a plotting skill that is uncommon for Fleischer cartoons of the era. One more anachronism.

After The Weekend


My love and I spent last weekend at the State Games of America in Grand Rapids. We were in the pinball competition because there’s a pinball-contest organizer who’s a genius at getting bigger events to host pinball tournaments on the side. The pinball competition was in Ballroom B, as were the darts and the billiards contests. There was also a bar set up in the ballroom. I honestly don’t know if there was supposed to be or if gathering enough pinball, darts, and billiards players in one room caused it to spontaneously manifest.

In the fourth corner of the room they also had a boxing ring. That was inspirational, watching people holding up the championship belt. Boxing championship belts combine two great traditional guy interests, that of celebrating our ability to hit one another and that of celebrating how we can do take something ordinary and make it so large and dramatic that it’s useless for its original purpose of controlling the rate at which our pants fall down.

It turned out Michigan’s were the National State Games and the organizer told us that while Michigan residents could just show up and compete, residents of other states had to win their own state games first. I looked this up and it’s slightly off, not in important ways. If your state has games in that sport you’re supposed to win that first before going on to nationals. But per their Qualifying Standards document:

Due to National Congress of State Games neighboring state policy, athletes residing in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Ontario, Canada are allowed to compete in SGA 2017 without qualification

My obvious question: so, wait, Wisconsin doesn’t border Michigan suddenly? Guess not. But Wisconsin only borders the upper peninsula, the whole population of which is abandoned copper mining platforms sinking into contaminated lakes. I can understand overlooking that. Not answered: Wait, so Illinois borders Michigan somewhere?

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped nine points as the trading floor felt mixed emotions following the City Council primary vote. On the one hand, the guy whose campaign site was just one page, half of it a picture of Neptune, won’t be in the November election. On the other hand, we ain’t voting for a novelty-act candidate for anything ever again and we’re going to kick in the shins anyone who says they are, thank you.

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