1960s Popeye has Plumber’s Pipe Dream


I’m taking this week to build myself some margin in the Popeye’s Island Adventure series. I’m doing that by filling in a week with an older cartoon. This one, Plumber’s Pipe Dream, is part of the notorious 1960s series. In that, King Features made over two hundred short cartoons over the course of about three years to fill television with a heap of content. Doing this required hiring, like, everybody who could hold a pencil. This is a short that I thought King Features had on their official YouTube channel. They have a couple dozen of that run. So I’m posting a copy I can find. If you find it’s been removed, please let me know. I’ll try to find a replacement. It could be King Features will have added it to their official channel by that time.

This cartoon, at least, I can give credits for. It was made by Jack Kinney Productions. Jack Kinney worked for Disney in the Golden Age — he directed sequences in Pinocchio and Dumbo. And he worked for UPA Studios at its peak too. You could get that idea from the stylish title card. By 1960 he had his own studio doing television work, King Features cartoons among it.

This is not a good cartoon. It is one I enjoy watching. It’s weird that those go together. A strain in pop culture, especially on the Internet, celebrates bad stuff. It’s been celebrated so long that we can forget that this is a strange choice to make. What’s fun about a bad cartoon, or movie, or book, or story?

I think it’s something you have to grow into. You start out taking in stories (cartoons, movies, whatever) and accepting them as stories. Then you get to knowing stories well enough. You can tell good from bad, and maybe why some are good and some bad. Most of us then stick to the good stories, and live a happy life with our entertainment choices. But some of us, in what feels like a nerdy thing to do, break that. I think some of us get so obsessed with studying stories, and why they work and why they don’t, that we overthink it. Like, we notice that most good stories follow (sensible) rules. A genuinely bad story, though? That won’t follow rules. Or it follows a weird distorted idea of the rules. It surprises in a way that a well-made story can’t. The surprise and novelty is great if you’ve consumed so much of a particular kind of story that normal ones are boring. And it’s great for showing by its mistakes how good stories come together. And, yes, a good story that defies rules and breaks expectations is also cherished. But there’s probably more ways to make a bad story than a good one.

So how does this hypothesis matter to this cartoon?


We start with Olive Oyl having a leaky faucet. Good premise. Plumbing cartoons are usually fun. Leaking water gives things a sense of urgency, and that often builds comic energy well. Swee’Pea suggests having it fixed, something Olive Oyl never thought of, even though they have the same voice actor. Olive Oyl insisting she wouldn’t have thought of that, and looking up “plumbers” under “P as in Plop”, are a couple cute throwaway dialogue jokes. They’re not quite laugh lines, but at least they’re cheery.

Popeye’s the designated plumber, and mentions how this call roused him from a snooze. There’s a weird momentary fade to black at about 1:31, before we see Popeye’s face making some weird expressions. This turns out to be plot-important, but you only know that in retrospect. Popeye’s first attempt only makes the leak worse and he rushes to the basement to turn the water off. This by the way takes about as long as a whole Popeye’s Island Adventure does. So I appreciate how much story compression has to go into those shorts.

Popeye can’t remember which apartment he needs to turn off, so he breaks that pipe too. So he figures now he has to go to the water main and runs out to the city sewer. Here, given the direction to turn the wheel right he turns it back and forth until it breaks off, sending even more water loose. You have get to wondering whether Popeye was always this incompetent. Boring Suburban Popeye, the character he mutated into in cartoons of the 50s, had a lot of problems. (And yes, this is Popeye in the city. But it’s the way he acts when the cartoon makes him the owner of a boring home in a boring suburb.)

Now the apartment is flooding to the point it looks lost at sea. Popeye needs to get to the city mains before a J G Ballard novel can break out. He hails a taxi, that gets there on distinctly dry streets, and calls out, “The City Water Works!” The shocked driver asks, “It does?” and so help me that makes me laugh every time. This is because I am a nerd. That a phrase might have more than one meaning is always funny to both nerds and four-year-olds. Four-year-olds it makes sense. They’re delighting in the discovery of how language works. Nerds, I don’t know. Might be we so like having things explained and sensible that a sentence which resists mono-meaning is delightful.

Now the water comes, with the city streets flooding or flooding more. Popeye swims toward the water works, only to find the water’s risen so high that it threatens to extinguish the Statue of Liberty’s torch. You know, the torch that has never been a literal fire.

There’s some spinach floating by, that Popeye grabs happily and eats. He gets his power-up fanfare and … water squirts out of his muscle bulges. Well, he puddles to the drowned shutoff valve, which opens a drain, threatening to suck him down. And then what do you know but it’s all a dream, and he’s still getting another call from Olive Oyl. He rushes to Olive Oyl’s apartment and once again forgets to turn off the water. The end.

Lay out the storyline like that and it seems workable. Making a small problem ever-worse is a standard comic method. It’s standard because it works so well. And there are a bunch of funny little drawings. Popeye asleep in his chair looks weird, but in a funny way. The taxi driver has some nice bugged-out eyes when he sees the flood coming. There’s more nice casual jokes than I remembered were in this short. It isn’t quotable, but that’s because all the jokes depend on their context to be anything. And a cartoon doesn’t have to be quotable to be good.

But what’s bad. Mm. Well, little things. Every scene takes a few seconds longer than it needs. The music was done by hitting shuffle on the King Features 1960s Background Themes playlist. I’ll give them a pass on how much animation gets reused within this short. They had like $20 and a heap of Green Stamps for an animation budget, and as many as twelve minutes to draw the thing. But did a third of all the dialogue have to be Olive Oyl crying out “Heellllp” in an endless repeated chant? (I likely find this more annoying than other people because the same chant gets used in many of the 60s cartoons. I recognize it like I recognize the exact same gunshot sound effect in half of all the M-G-M Tom and Jerry cartoons.)

For the most part, this cartoon is boring. Or it’s annoying, when Olive Oyl is crying out “Heellllp” in a sound clip they used in every King Features Popeye. It’s going a bit loopy, with the speed and magnitude of the flooding. But it’s not until 3:55, it changes. This is when Popeye notices the Statue of Liberty is almost drowned. Now the cartoon is not only bad, but great bad. Making the flooding worse by fixing it? That’s a normal line of action. That’s the plot thread that you could make a good cartoon around. Making the flooding “Oh, and it’s going to extinguish the flame in the Statue of Liberty’s Torch”? That’s not a logical thought. The cartoon leaps into some surreal, dream-logic territory. It’s surprising and weird. The rules of plot logic that we’re used to fail and that’s thrilling. Plus there’s a nice alarmed look on the statue’s face.

That it’s all a dream is … eh. The cartoon could as easily have had the big drain open up and let the city dry. Making it all a dream retroactively excuses Popeye making dumb mistakes, at least. And it sets up the here-we-go-again punch line. The cartoon manages, at least for a while, to be a great bad cartoon.


Next week I should get back to Popeye’s Island Adventures with a fresh essay at this link. Now watch as King Features double-crosses me and doesn’t post a new cartoon this week. Well, I have 219 other 1960s cartoons to look at. Plus they’ve posted episodes from Popeye And Son. I can wait them out.

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Popeye’s Island Adventures: Drone Drama


There were two minutes, seventeen seconds for this week’s cartoon. It’s hard telling any kind of story with so little time. This week, they impressed me with a story that’s densely plotted and interesting, without getting confusing. The 25th of these little animations is Drone Drama. It’s not an inspiring title. I can imagine it fitting into the King Features Syndicate cartoon run of the 60s. But do you remember the subject line I picked for this essay? No, and I say that before I’ve even written it. So I can give them a break.

We start with eleven seconds in Bluto’s Swamp. He’s making something sinister: one of those drones like you’d fly at the beach, only evil. Then we go to Popeye’s ship home. He and Olive Oyl are tending the spinach gardens. Swee’Pea is doing magic tricks with Eugene the Jeep. Routine enough.

Bluto sneaks up on Popeye’s ship home. He camouflages a can of bait as spinach and leaves it for Popeye as … bait. Despite Olive’s misgivings, Popeye takes the … bait. Bluto’s drone drops a cage on Popeye and Olive Oyl. Popeye opens the false spinach can and swallows the bait. This doesn’t get him any particular superpowers. It leaves me feeling queasy too.

Bluto flies, on is drone, up to the spinach garden. And at this point I realized how much I was liking this story. There’s some fun in the Young Bluto as a rival more than a villain, yes. But him doing actually villainous things is fun. And he’s got a good scheme here, one that’s using this drone invention well. Bluto uses the drone to drop a trap on Popeye and Olive Oyl, to get to the spinach garden, and even to scoop up the garden all around Swee’Pea and Eugene. And then to flee back to the swamp.

Swee’Pea and Eugene take action. Eugene vanishes, lest he spoil the plot by fixing the problem right away. Swee’Pea uses his saw to cut open Popeye’s cage. And this is something else I liked here. Swee’Pea can saw open the cage, but there needs to be a reason why he’d have a saw. So he’s practicing magic. And now this is all set up so it’s surprising but justified.

(Yes, yes, as illustrated Popeye and Olive Oyl would be able to get out of the cage if they stepped through the wide bars. I’m an easy audience. I’m willing to pretend the cage mesh is “really” too narrow to let them pass. It may not be more work to have the computer draw a fine-mesh cage rather than a sparse one. But it’s still hard to have a fine mesh cage and have the cartoon still read cleanly, especially to people watching on a phone. Give the animators a break.)

Popeye breaks out the emergency spinach reserve. Which was in a compartment covered by Swee’Pea and Eugene, by the way. In case you needed a reason why Bluto’s drone didn’t do anything about the hidden spinach reserve, there’s one. I’m not sure this is answering a potential objection to the storyline. It might have just been that “on top of the secret compartment” was the only good background available for Swee’Pea’s scenes. But it feels like it explains a problem someone overthinking the cartoon might have.

Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Swee’Pea catch up with Bluto and the stolen spinach. Bluto urges them to bring it on, and I like his smug confidence. It seems odd when you realize he’s seen they have spinach with them. Olive eats her can, and does a Plastic Man-style arm-reach to grab the bag of spinach. It turns out Bluto’s hidden his drone in the spinach bag. It pops out with big spinny whirly blades of death. Once again I like this. Bluto’s anticipating Popeye and his bunch. It makes him a tougher menace, and so a stronger climax.

Swee’Pea eats his spinach and flies into the air as a … something that flies, anyway. He tears up the drone, and the spinach falls toward the swamp. Popeye doesn’t eat a can; he grabs some loose spinach when the bag spills open. He makes a giant fan of himself, and blows Bluto into the swap. Olive Oyl and Swee’Pea grab the spinach bag. And Eugene finally reappears, to slap cucumber slices on Bluto’s mud-covered face. Happy ending all around.

This is a lot of plot for 137 seconds. I’m impressed with how well it all works. Bluto’s got a good scheme in mind. And he even anticipates Popeye’s responses and figures what to do about them. I like this. It gives the plot a more complicated and interesting shape than the last few weeks have shown. And for as much as happens here it’s never confusing. I followed what characters were doing and why they were doing it. And even stuff that didn’t seem relevant, like Swee’Pea and Eugene’s hanging out, mattered to the story. It’s all well-crafted. Again I’m sorry we don’t get credits for these shorts. I’m curious to know. Has one of the writing teams figured out how to work within the constraints this series uses? Or do things sometimes just all fit together well?

I’m doing my best to review all these Popeye’s Island Adventures. Essays about them should be at this link. Next week, though, I plan to finally build myself a bit of buffer and review a much older cartoon. I hope you enjoy the change.

Popeye’s Island Adventures: Beach Ball Bonanza (no bonanza included)


While this, the 24th of the Popeye’s Island Adventures series, is titled Beach Ball Bonanza, readers should know there is no actual bonanza depicted, nor is there reason to expect one. There is a beach ball. I have no responsibility for these facts and so will not apologize for them.

The short faked me out some. I’m glad for that. From the start I thought it would be another one where Eugene sets up a contest to get Popeye and Bluto out of his hair. Or at least Popeye and Olive Oyl, which would be a change. So we start with Olive Oyl accidentally hitting their beach ball over to the cactus Eugene’s just planted. Popeye makes a good saving catch. When the relieved Eugene dusts some sand around the cactus’s base, it makes Popeye sneeze and burst the beachball on the cactus anyway. Basic but reliable setup. Usually the more times the story reverses whether the catastrophe will happen the better the joke.

Bluto sees his chance to swipe Popeye’s spinach. So he dresses up in a cactus costume, the better to sneak past them all undetected. This confused me the first time around, as, well, why sneak up to them just to sneak away to Popeye’s house? This shows how bad I am at spatial relations: Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Eugene’s cactus were between Bluto’s boat and Popeye’s house. So he has reason to sneak past them. Not answered: can’t Bluto just sail nearer to Popeye’s house? Maybe the reefs are too treacherous.

Bluto sneaks past the halfway point in the cartoon. He finally jumps up into Popeye’s garden, landing on a rake, which is one of those dumb laughs you certainly want. And now, finally, as Olive Oyl finishes repairing and re-inflating their beach ball, Popeye notices Bluto. The unexpected beach ball hit sends Popeye’s spinach flying loose, and Olive races to eat it before … I guess … it hits the ground and loses its potency? Spinach has always been a magic food, in the Popeye settings. This series has made it more explicitly so. If an opened can just has to be eaten right away that’s probably a good plot constraint to put on the series. Could add for some nice action. Or it may have just made for a better flow of action this short.

So, spinached up, Olive Oyl .. manifests the properties of a hang glider. A couple times now we’ve seen Popeye notice, say, a sponge and use the spinach powers to take on sponge properties. This was completely Olive acting on impulse. She carries Popeye over to his house in a scene that asks the question: was this really better than them just running over? It’s like a hundred feet away from where they started.

Popeye hasn’t got a can of spinach, but that’s all right, since the surprise gets Bluto stuck in a barrel. Like the rake, it’s a simple but reliable joke. Popeye attaches the air pump to the barrel’s tap, and setting up the beach ball explosion and repair pays off another plot dividend. The barrel explosion sends Bluto sailing into Eugene’s cactus, and we don’t need to wonder what happened to the spinach cans which were in the barrel. And, two minutes nine seconds in, we’re done.

It’s a fair enough short. It’s made me realize there are some stock situations, unique to this series, that I expect. And that the shorts can go against my expectations. That’s a good development.


Be with me next week as I try to review another of these Popeye’s Island Adventures. Essays about them should be at this link.

Popeye’s Island Adventures: Gone Fishing, as Olive saves the day


I need to invest less energy in coming up with subject lines for these little cartoon reviews. The urge is to come up with subject lines that invite the reader in. But for most of a post’s life I need it to be easy to figure out which cartoon a particular essay is about. Cartoon title and maybe a distinctive element is all that’s needed.

This week’s is the 23rd of the series, Gone Fishing. It starts that way at least.

I’ve always loved Popeye. That’s involved a lot of defending the cartoons against the complaint that they’re all the same formula. They’re quite diverse in structure, even if they nearly all share the Popeye-eats-spinach climax. Still, there is a formula. And it’s always thrilling when a cartoon breaks from that. The commonest break, it seems to me: someone else eats the can of spinach to save the day. Like, say, in this one.

The cartoon starts with Popeye and Bluto fishing. More, with actually catching fish. This felt anachronistic. It seems, to my uninformed eyes, that cartoons are likely enough to show characters fishing. But actually catching anything? As in, ripping animals out of their homes and suffocating them? That’s gotten perceived as too openly cruel to show. Our characters will still eat fish, of course. They’ll just leave the killing off-screen. Well, they’re all ones and zeroes imitating ink and paint anyway. They can’t feel it.

This builds into a natural little rivalry, Bluto and Popeye trying to out-catch the other, and I figured this would be the plot for the cartoon. It’s got some nice sound and, at about 0:32, even a rare screen split. I’m an easy touch for that sort of action-across-several-screens shot. They end up tied together in the water and from there stop being active parts of the plot, to my surprise.

So over to Olive Oyl, who’s made one of those Newton’s Cradles things of snail shells. One still has a snail, who reasonably takes her leave. The snail grabs a couple spinach leaves and scurries to the water, while Olive follows along. I’m not sure why Olive would. I get her accidentally bothering a live snail, but why chase after it? To apologize?

Our hero spots the stranded Bluto and Popeye, just in time for them to be menaced by a giant snail kraken. To let you in on how unperceptive I am: I wasn’t sure at first this was the spinach-transformed snail from seconds before. The snail seems to be overreacting to the offense. Still, Olive paddles into action, with a pretty cute “I’m watching you” finger-point. She surfs skillfully enough to tie up the snail-kraken’s tentacles, but there’s still the snail’s claws and screaming.

So Popeye opens his spinach and shoots the can at her. She gets your nice classic muscle bulge, flexy-long arms, and tosses the snail-kraken out of the cartoon. Then spins Popeye and Bluto free and tosses them into Popeye’s hammock, sending them each to their respective boats. Happy ending for everybody but, I’m going to guess, the episode of Shimmer and Shine that’s now about a snail-kraken somehow.

I like that Olive Oyl got something to do this cartoon. She’s always gotten the occasional chance to play the Popeye role, and I think this is her first turn in the Island Adventures cartoons. I think the music’s a bit better this week, too. I’ve never been really happy with the music on this cartoon series. It’s seemed a little too generic, like they had a stock library of tunes that are never really wrong for a short, but also never really right or distinctive. Or tied particularly to the action. This time, the music as we first saw Olive Oyl felt like a good change. I like having a different audio feeling for being on a different plot thread. Olive Oyl on the surfboard also gets more distinctive, with some brass instruments adding new energy.

It’s a bit surprising to notice how passive Popeye and Bluto are. But that is a danger of being the person-to-be-rescued. I get Popeye being reactive; even in the Fleischer cartoons he was mostly inclined to go about his business until bothered. Bluto going inert seems surprising. But cartoon fishing wire can be pretty tough stuff.

I’m doing my best to review all these Popeye’s Island Adventures. Essays about them should be at this link.

A Follow-Up Regarding A Harmless TV Show That I Act As If I’m All Superior To For Not Caring About


I did give in and start searching for Two Broke Girls on DuckDuckGo because, all right, in that way I am superior, so far as I know. Anyway I started out typing all right and then it turned into Two Stupid Dogs, and that left me fondly vaguely remembering that early-90s cartoon. And I see absolutely no reason to go checking back on this fondly-vaguely-remembered early-90s cartoon because I’m absolutely sure there’s nothing about it that’s, in fact, embarrassingly sexist, or homophobic, or racist, or showing off the start of some trend that would become really bad in animation in the following twenty years, or highlighting the straight-from-the-id work of someone we now publicly acknowledge to be creepy and evil. Nope! That could not possibly ever have happened!

Maybe This Will Be The Silly Post That Lowers My Average word Count


So then why didn’t they ever make a goofy pure-comedy prequel series where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are, like, in kindergarden or something? It can’t just have been because they couldn’t think of a title for the series, right? Or did they make it and I just didn’t hear because I don’t hear about things anymore?

(Thanks for sticking with me to see last week’s promise fulfilled. That promise did not include successfully picking a fight with Go-Bots fans so it’s all right that I failed. Please check back next week when I test whether I’ll write shorter posts if I make the typeface in my text editor larger so I fool myself into thinking I’ve written long enough already.)

Popeye’s Island Adventure has a picnic, fresh strange body horror


The new Popeye’s Island Adventure for this week is Popeye’s Picnic. As is the custom there’s a couple of other cartoons suffixed to this. In this way, they get those valuable YouTube ads which interrupt the cartoon at, for me, the one-minute mark, in the middle of an otherwise good bit of Bluto plummeting through space. I realize I’m getting to sound like all I do is complain about how web sites have set up their business. In fairness, web sites have set up their business that way and should do better instead.

I am glad for this cartoon. I’d felt like the last couple shorts all left me grumbly and sour. This one’s got a story structure that works better for me. The setup suggests a couple of nice simple jokes and an obvious climax. That seems to reliably work for me.

The setup: Olive Oyl, Popeye, and Swee’Pea are having a picnic. Bluto’s having a picnic too, right nearby, only he uses a mechanical picnic basket. I get why Bluto’s stuff all has to be weird, slightly sinister-looking mechanisms. It plays to an old storytelling tradition of good people as being closer to nature, maybe building Rube Goldberg contraptions if they must have a machine do something. Bad people need a remote-controlled umbrella.

The structural problem with two groups having a picnic on the beach is they don’t need to interact at all. Not unless the beach is crowded, which the Popeye’s Island Adventures setting can’t be until they add a sixth character. Popeye’s ready to fight right away, based on nothing more than ninety years of experience with Bluto, but all he can do is grumble. Finally 43 seconds in, Bluto notices that Popeye has spinach and launches the actual story: attempts to swipe some spinach.

I’m curious why the short took so much of its run time in establishing that Popeye and Bluto were near each other. It’d be fine for an eight-minute cartoon, with time to play with the setting more. Was this the beset use of their two minutes, ten seconds? But then the cartoons are aimed at kids, probably quite young kids. Are they writing around the idea that kids need the premise explained more thoroughly? To me that feels like they’re underestimating kids’ ability to roll with the story. But I have a lot of experience watching stories, and it’s difficult to imagine what a novice cartoon-watcher sees.

The string of attempts by Bluto to steal spinach are fun, though. The first is just sneaking up while hidden inside his mechanical basket. Popeye notices just in time. From this I realize that a character acting all sheepish when their sneaking-about gets discovered is a comic beat that always works for me. This is when the commercial interrupted things for me.

Bluto tries tunneling up to the can of spinach; Popeye fakes him out with a can containing a crab. I’m not sure the crab quite fits the Popeye character model, but then almost no animals besides Jeeps and Whiffle Birds quite look like they belong in Popeye. I still think there’s something weird in the animation of the crab shuffling off.

Finally Bluto has an idea that works, using a team of mechanical ants to swipe a can spinach. Popeye has some spinach-bearing sandwiches to start a chase. And then we get a weird choice. Popeye isn’t satisfied just to run over there; he wants to do something with style. Fair enough; it’s a cartoon, the characters should do stuff that looks fun. He takes inspiration from the boomerang that Olive Oyl and Swee’Pea have been playing with. This also gives a reason for the two characters to even be in the cartoon. He eats a sandwich and turns into a Popeye-headed boomerang that … falls to the ground. He needs Olive Oyl’s help to go after Bluto.

Popeye’s spinach-eating transforming his body is this standard bit of cartoon business. This makes me realize I’ve taken his transformations to be, at least mostly, metaphorical. Like, sure, he grows tank tire treads or something, but that’s just to depict how he’s charging unstoppably through the terrain. A limbless boomerang-Popeye needing an assist to actually move makes this change … like, literal. As in someone who happened to stroll onto the beach would see this living young man’s head growing out of a blue-and-white boomerang. I know this isn’t the first time that the spinach-induced transformation is shown to direct what Popeye can literally do. It still seems weird to me. I think because it builds a joke on what a boomerang can’t do. When Popeye turns into, like, a rocket the focus is on how a rocket can fly through space.

Well, Olive Oyl uses a beach umbrella to propel Popeye at Bluto and grab the spinach back. Really seems like it would’ve been more efficient for Popeye to just run, but it’s true that wouldn’t be as interesting to look at. Popeye settles down to have a sandwich, and gets nose-pinched by the crab from earlier. Correct ending, that.


After the short ends we get another repeat of the one with the Popeye clones. Then the sandcastle battle again. Then the treasure-hunting cartoon and then then Heatwave. This is the same slate of four cartoons as run after the Olive-Oyl-on-vacation short two weeks ago. They’re all good picks of cartoons, but it seems sloppy at least to rerun all four in the same order so quickly.

I’m doing my best to review all these Popeye’s Island Adventures. Essays about them should be at this link.

In Which I Pick A Fight With Go-Bots Fans To Lower My Average Post Word Count


So if Leader-One was all that great why didn’t they ever make a Leader-Two? So far as I know. I haven’t really followed Go-Bots at all. Mostly I remember this episode where some scientist worked out a gimmick that could scoop up and store a billion people into a crystal ball the size of a beachball, and what do you know but the Evil Go-Bots grabbed this and stole the whole world’s population for two days. But I’ve read lists of Go-Bots episodes and it seems I completely made this episode up somehow? But what piece of any of that makes sense? You know? Anyway so I don’t know they didn’t have a Leader-Two in, like, the comics or the CGI reboot or something.

(Thank you for being here as I fulfill the promise made last week. Please visit next week when I ask why they never did a goofy pure-comedy prequel series where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are in kindergarden, unless it’s that they can’t think of a show title. I mean so far as I know. It would make sense if they had made one, right? Maybe they did make that already. Anyway somebody check on that and if they didn’t, then I’ll ask about it.)

Popeye’s Island Adventures shows us What’s In The Box?


I couldn’t think of a clever subject line for this short. This happens, now and then. This week’s short is two minutes, 11 seconds, and is padded out with reruns. These include Scramble For The Egg, which is worth the watch.

Does Bluto need a sidekick? He hasn’t usually had one. The handful of times he has needed a second Wimpy’s done service. But Wimpy is this lightly supernatural figure, no more invested in the plot than any fae folk would be. But this is a short where Popeye-and-Olive-Oyl are on their own, and Bluto is on his own. The storylines are parallel. I liked Bluto’s machinations. It seemed like he would do well with someone to react against.

The short opens with Popeye dancing a version of the Sailor’s Hornpipe. I realized we haven’t seen Popeye do that in ages. It’s fun to see. He gets a package. It’s some kind of spinach-generating mechanical cornucopia? The purpose is obscure, but the instructions are baffling, and he calls on Olive Oyl to help.

The first iteration of this takes spinach through a funnel, whirs around an engine, and spits out garbage. The next iteration adds wheels and a chomping mouth. This releases a rampaging mechanical monster that chases Popeye and Olive Oyl to the top of the shipping crate. The music improves during this chase. It’s a bit more focused, more energetic.

That’s a good time to eat spinach, though. Popeye does. His spinach-induced body-transformative horror this time is turning his left arm into a giant net. This scoops up the contraption and hurls it out into the bay, and the problem is efficiently handled. Olive Oyl discovers there was a mistake: this was something meant for Bluto.

Then we go over to Bluto. He’s been attaching stuff to his submarine. It was supposed to add a cool turbine engine and chompers to his submarine. He’s got the parts for Popeye’s spinach-emitting thing instead. Once turned on, the thing starts shooting empty cans of spinach at Bluto. This knocks him into the water. And there he gets chased by the chomping machine that Popeye and Olive Oyl had assembled.

There’s a lot that’s likable in this short. I don’t know why I don’t like it more. I think once again the two-minute run time is spoiling things for me. Part of the fun of a mysterious contraption story is the rhythm of trying something, having it fail, and trying again. I mean, a Road Runner cartoon is made up of small jokes. It gets to be funny because Wile E Coyote has the machine explode on him, and crush him, and drop him off a cliff nine times in five minutes. This short is going that way, but there’s only two iterations of the thing Popeye and Olive Oyl build.

I wonder if it wouldn’t work better if they cut out Bluto, and used another twenty seconds to make another iteration of the gadget. But that might be impossible. There probably needs to be some explanation of what the device was supposed to be, and what happened to the thing Popeye expected to get. All told, I don’t know what I would do different, or if it would be better that way.


I’m doing my best to review all these Popeye’s Island Adventures. Essays about them should be at this link.

Popeye’s Island Adventures sends Olive Oyl on vacation


I did figure to spend a week or two reviewing non-Popeye’s-Island-Adventure cartoons. This to build some buffer in my writing schedule. Once again it was easier to not. But this time for sure I’ll get my writing onto a more sustainable, less exhausting schedule.

Olive’s Vacation is listed as the 20th of these Popeye’s Island Adventure shorts. As has become the standard it’s followed by four more shorts, padding the production up to eleven and a half minutes, the better to support Google advertising. I had it pop up that panel asking me questions about other advertisements or companies I’ve heard about recently. If you encounter this, remember, you should lie to them.

The short starts with a decent idea. Olive Oyl’s going on vacation, so Popeye and Swee’Pea house-sit. It’s a stock premise, but I don’t mind stock premises. They can build reliable stories, ones that don’t screw things up. This premise, it’s all in how the chaos builds, and how hard Popeye has to work to prevent Olive Oyl from discovering the disaster.

The moment Popeye’s back is turned, Eugene and Swee’Pea split open a watermelon, using a hammer. I like Eugene as this agent of chaos. The Jeep brushes up against the fairy-world. Such creatures should operate without regard for grown-up human interests. Popeye runs after the mess, accidentally opening Olive Oyl’s Murphy-like bed and spilling all that stuff over the house. This was a bit I didn’t understand until I rewatched the short. I didn’t know what to make of the contents hidden behind the cabinet. The sort running time of these shorts — here, two minutes, 11 seconds — sometimes damages its clarity.

Popeye thinks to use his spinach to clean the place up. He then tries rubbing his can of spinach on a puddle of watermelon juice. It’s dumb. I laughed. Bluto appears, offering his help in exchange for a can of spinach. A distraught Popeye pays the price. Bluto shows how to hide stuff under the carpet and runs off, cackling gleefully. Gleeful Bluto might be my favorite part of this series of cartoons. It’s so endearing.

Olive Oyl stops back in for her forgotten hat. She gets there just after Popeye’s hidden everything away, and just before everything explodes out of the Murphy-ish bed. In the explosion, Olive’s flower-planter boot flies way off to Bluto’s swamp, knocking his hard-earned spinach into the marsh. That’s by the way the flower-planter boot she made way back in episode 13, Commotion in the Ocean. I don’t expect continuity beats in two-minute Popeye flash cartoons.

Anyway now Popeye thinks, what if he ate his spinach? He squirts a blob of that out of his backup spinach can, at the same time he squirts a blob of detergent into a pail of water. This had me so nervous I’m not even being funny. This week’s spinach-induced transformative body horror is a mop-hand, but that cleans up everything within five seconds. Olive Oyl sets out again. In the punch line, Eugene has another watermelon.

Like I said, it’s a good idea for a short. I don’t like how it came out, though. There’s a couple promising ideas here. Popeye trying to contain a mess and only making it worse would be good. Bluto scamming Popeye with fake cleaning advice would be good. Popeye trying to distract Olive Oyl away from a mess would be good. Even just Popeye trying to house-sit and that going all wrong would be good. The pieces are all introduced, but there’s no time for any of them to build, or to bounce off one another. There’s spot jokes that work well enough. There’s not any build in tension, though, or pacing. It’s an amiable short, but it just sort of putters along.

Also, Olive Oyl’s vacation dream was her lounging on the beach. She lives on the beach. Is that a joke? Is it the observation that nobody’s ever happy where they are? I’ll credit it as a joke. Part of me thinks they used “going to the beach” to signify a vacation and didn’t think about whether that would actually be a change of activity for Olive. That isn’t important, no, except in how I think it reflects the short not developing its storyline enough.


The reruns padding out the short are Popeye Squared, the one with the clones, which is worth watching. Then Sandcastle Battle, another contest refereed by Eugene. Then X Marks The Spot, the treasure-hunting cartoon that did give Olive Oyl a vacation. And finally Heatwave, with that cute alligator pool toy. Both Heatwave and Popeye Squared have already been used as padding shorts, just two weeks ago.


I’m doing my best to review all these Popeye’s Island Adventures. Essays about them should be at this link.

Popeye’s Island Adventures: SPORTS


Last week’s Popeye’s Island Adventures video included four more cartoons after the new one’s end. This week’s does too. I have a dreadful feeling that I’ve figured out why they do that. This week’s video had two advertisements prefixed to it. Short ones, the kinds that they promise end in six seconds, but still. Maybe a ten-minute video attracts advertising dollars that a two-minute, ten-second one can’t.

Well. I figure, as threatened before, to take next week to review an old Popeye cartoon, so that I have more than a day to watch and think about these shorts in future. For today, though, it’s Sports Day. This is surely not a tie-in to my anticipated recap of what’s going on in Gil Thorp, due Sunday.

I like this cartoon. It reuses the setup of A Kraken Good Race, Eugene setting up a contest to get Bluto and Popeye to stop bothering him. It’s a good setup, though, even if it does require the odd state that Eugene has to be the grown-up in the room. But having the animal be the responsible one has a nice comic logic, as long as Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Bluto are vaguely kids.

We start with Popeye and Olive Oyl playing basketball, and getting some good bounces against that sand. Eugene pours a can of spinach onto his plate, and then re-seals the can with confetti inside. That’s an interesting choice. It serves the storyline. It startles and even frightens Popeye after he opens the can. It leaves the spinach where Swee’Pea can get it for his innings. But why did Eugene do that? Had he already figured he would have to set up a Popeye-Bluto contest, and was readying a bit of chaos for that? The Jeep is a four-dimensional animal; it’s why he can answer questions about the future. But if he is using his foreknowledge, it’s underplayed to the point maybe nobody would know that’s what happened. Still, he has this sly look on his face when he does it. I guess he at least knew whatever happened would be funny.

Popeye and Bluto get into a basketball-throwing contest. When a stray basketball hits Eugene, he whips up an obstacle course. Bluto goes first, with some fun physical comedy. The soccer ball hits the goal, bounces off his head, and rolls through the net. Counts as a goal. He falls over the hurdles, over and over. He whacks himself with the putter, somehow knocking the golf ball in. He does put together a jigsaw puzzle of his crocodile friend. It gives another moment of that strange delight crocodiles give Young Bluto. I love that every time. And he runs back to the finish line.

Popeye’s turn, after he grabs the tampered spinach can. (And I notice Swee’Pea reading a pop-up book with a sea monster. That’s probably not a thematic reference to A Kraken Good Race. But I like sea monsters.) He kicks the soccer ball into the sea. He twirls around the hurdles. He hits the golf ball against a palm tree and back again to make a simple shot way more complicated. It’s honestly kind of bragging. Solving his jigsaw puzzle — a can of spinach — by slamming the backboard down is more fun. And then he opens his spinach for that burst of energy to run back to the finish line? Anyway, it’s confetti, that frightens him, and he runs back to beat Bluto’s time.

Swee’Pea insists on his own turn, and eats the plate of spinach for it. And that gets bigger, sillier stunts. Hitting the soccer ball hard enough to knock out the sun, a bit of exaggeration that wouldn’t be out of place in a Fleischer-era Popeye. He flies through the hurdles. He hits the golf ball hard enough it rebounds off an eagle before landing in the hole. And his jigsaw puzzle is of a pacifier. He vastly beats everyone’s time.

The cartoon’s structure is simple, which isn’t a bad thing. The build of absurd overachievement works. It should drain Bluto of menace that everything he does is so incompetent. But he’s also a kid in this series. It’s all right if he’s not a serious menace.

I liked the animation more this time around. It feels less rigid than usual. I trust it’s all being rendered by computer, but the unknown-to-us animators were better able to get characters to stretch and distort themselves, and move in funnier ways. Look at the way Popeye’s golf ball slides down the flagpole at about 1:33; there’s thought that went in to making that.

Eugene’s tail gets a lot of things to do, particularly serving as a starter pistol. I’m not sure how I feel about that. There’s something unsettling me in having the tip of his tail fly off and release a ‘BANG!’ flag. But that’s my hang-up, not something the cartoon has to answer for. I suppose it wouldn’t be Popeye’s Island Adventures without at least some touch of body horror.


After Sports Day, this video goes into Scramble For The Egg, then Swee’Pea Arrives, the previously-referenced A Kraken Good Race, another repeat of Feeling Blue.


I’m doing my best to review all these Popeye’s Island Adventures. Essays about them should be at this link.

Popeye’s Island Adventures has hiccup, also strange event


There are many things I don’t understand, even now, about the Popeye’s Island Adventure cartoons. Who makes them, for example, like, is it a single writer-or-director? A team? Several individuals? How many are they going to make? How many do they plan to make? Are they still making new cartoons, and are they responding to audience reactions in making them? Why does the YouTube channel posting these have it labelled in some places as ‘Popeye For Kids’? And what is the release schedule? I often can’t find a new cartoon until a Monday, which makes me feel nervous when I know I have, like, two things I have to do on Tuesday. I’ve been thinking about passing one week on purpose just to give myself some margin and chance to see a cartoon before writing about it.

And then there’s the strange conclusion to this week’s entry, Sick of the Hiccups, which the title also says offers ‘AND MORE’. That more is other Popeye’s Island Adventure cartoons. After all the hiccups are done we get reruns of Feeling Blue, and then Can’t Handle The Tooth, and then Popeye Squared, and finally Heatwave. But with no title cards or clear breaks between cartoons you could be forgiven for not knowing what the heck is going on.

But the first cartoon of this eleven-minute video is new, so let me talk about that first two minutes, seventeen seconds.

The short started with the sort of simple, traditional premise I usually like in these: Popeye has hiccups. It disrupts his eating oatmeal. I like the camera move of his bowl leaping into the air and landing on his head. And I like Eugene popping in and imitating Popeye’s clumsy eating. There’s not much reason for Eugene to do it, but a clever animal like a Jeep can just stop in and mess with people.

Popeye heads off, hiccuping every few steps, to Olive Oyl’s. Meanwhile Bluto, dressed as a giant flower, sneaks into the short. Olive gets to play her role as smart person who knows how to find things in books and stuff, and puts Popeye through a couple of the traditional sure-fire hiccup cures that I only ever see people in comic strips or old-time sitcoms use. Popeye trying to drink a water while upside-down is a funny idea, but I don’t feel it this short.

Popeye tries holding his breath, and spinaches things up to do it better. This makes him manifest an air tank, swim fins, and breathing mask. I don’t mind him doing that, but the combination is weird. It isn’t like you’re holding your breath in scuba gear, not if you’re using it right. I feel like they had the Popeye-in-diving-suit stuff for another short and reused it here. I don’t mind him manifesting hardware like that, it’s just … this isn’t how you hold your breath. I know, the short is aimed at kids, and you never really imagine what you were like as a kid. I think, though — on the grounds of my documented complaints, at age eight, about the plausibility of The Far-Out Space Nuts — that if I were a kid I’d be bothered by that.

I don’t mind him manifesting the hardware. His accidentally puncturing the air tank on a harpoon that Olive has in the umbrella stand is … something that unsettles me more every time I think about it. The puncture sends Popeye flying out of control, back towards his house, while Olive resolves to scare him out of the hiccups.

Finally — and it’s a bit weird it can feel like “finally” when it’s only been about 75 seconds — we get back to Bluto. He’s snuck into Popeye’s garden, and sees a pile of spinach cans. He gets this delighted look as he sees he can steal all Popeye’s canned spinach. And it is such an endearing look. I think my favorite part of these new shorts might be the moments, like at 1:33 here, where Bluto’s joyfully surprised. He swipes the stack just ahead of Popeye, and then Olive Oyl, arriving.

Olive’s dressed as a ghost to which Popeye is indifferent. Popeye sees the missing spinach, though, and is horrified, scared out of his hiccups and, briefly, the ability to stand. It’s the obvious joke, yes, but obvious doesn’t mean wrong, and it resolves the story’s problem sensibly. And I like the animation of Popeye’s point of view and how the missing cans get highlighted.

Olive cleans up the loose ends, using her bedsheet ghost costume to wrangle Bluto. Popeye hugs Bluto, grateful, and that’s again the obvious resolution but also the one that makes sense. And I like when, occasionally, a cartoon ends with Popeye glad for Bluto. A circumstance like this where Bluto has no idea why Popeye’s hugging him makes it better. And Bluto has hiccups, since the premise of cartoon hiccups is that they never go away, they just transmit from one being to another.

I’ve said, I think, many warm things about this short. Do I like it? … Not so much, really. I think it’s a good start, but I only really liked a few moments in it. Bluto’s delighted face at finding the spinach free, for example. But it never gets wild or imaginative enough for me. I don’t think the short does anything wrong. Once again I suspect this would play better as the skeleton of a full-length cartoon instead.

I have no idea why they’ve started putting more shorts on the end of these cartoons, or how they pick the ones they have. I do wonder if, like, five weeks from now when they stack this onto the end of some short, they’ll also put the other nine minutes of cartoons on. I’m imagining the day when each of these videos is two minutes, ten seconds of, like, Young Popeye playing a video game and then a four-hour block of previous Island Adventures, some of them repeated a dozen times over. That seems like it’s nothing too extreme to me.


I’m do try to review all these Popeye’s Island Adventures. Essays about them should be at this link. If I do take an off week to give myself more writing time, eh, you’ll see something about it. Don’t worry.

Popeye’s Island Adventures springs leaks


This week’s Popeye’s Island Adventure has the title Plumbing Problems. It set my expectations high. Plumbing has been a really good theme for cartoons. Plumbing Is The Pipe, from 1938, was another of the masterful Fleischer-era Popeye cartoons. Famous Studios did one as Floor Flusher, in 1954, and that was pretty solid despite the layer of general boredom that settled on Popeye cartoons of that era. When King Features cranked out 286,000 shorts in twelve minutes in the early 60s, one of them was Plumbers Pipe Dream and while I can’t call that one good, it is certainly deeply weird and unpredictable and thus interesting. I may do a separate review of just that carton because it is so … so … very much itself.

So how was Plumbing Problems?

I didn’t like this one. I mean, not so much as I liked Popeye the Painter. Nor some of the other plumbing cartoons. The storyline seems too scattershot for me. What I think gives most plumbing cartoons their comic energy is how they normally have this nice, built-in ratcheting of comic tension. Water is coming, and then more water is coming, and everything done to stop the water makes the problem worse, until things get truly dire. I don’t insist that all jokes can be explained as releases of tension. But there are many jokes which do work that way, so this is a good platform to build on.

It’s a competent start: Olive Oyl tries to make tea, but there’s no water. Leaks appear all over her house. Popeye tries plugging them up, first with an umbrella. I liked the umbrella handle spewing water; that’s a good bit. Olive Oyl and Popeye take miscellaneous objects, a lot of them clam shells, to stuff into the leaks, which works for the moment that comic timing requires. The sink becomes a geyser, and Olive tries to make emergency repairs. This fits in line with her Island Adventures characterization as a tinkerer.

Popeye hands Olive Oyl a heap of miscellaneous things. After stuffing them all in the drain, the leak’s stopped for a moment. It doesn’t last, which says exciting things about Olive Oyl’s water pressure. The geyser returns, shooting all this kitchen stuff into the air.

And here — 59 seconds in — Bluto finally enters the short. He’s minding his own business, a nice change of pace for the villain. He’s startled by the fork landing in front of him, and cringes when he sees Olive Oyl’s kitchen flying toward him. The dining table, chairs, plates, and candlestick land in perfect shape, another good bit of business. And that’s ended well with Olive’s flower-in-a-shoe landing in Bluto’s face. And Bluto gets an idea.

So Bluto presents himself as a plumber. His fee: a can of spinach. This fits a long history of Bluto being smart enough to understand the importance of spinach, but not smart enough to just buy it himself. (Although since we’ve seen Popeye canning his own spinach maybe there isn’t an island grocery.) And this gives Popeye the idea of trying to use spinach to fix the leaks. This fits a long history of Popeye not just eating spinach early enough to head off his problems. Stuffing some spinach into the drain, for a wonder, doesn’t work. But it does give Bluto the chance to swipe the rest of Popeye’s spinach. I credit the cartoon for subverting my expectations. But: is this all that funny? It makes sense Bluto would use an opportunity like this to make mischief. It makes sense Bluto would try stealing spinach. But this means he’s skipping out on the main plot tension of the water in order to swipe spinach. I don’t think the short has enough time — two minutes, fifteen seconds — to make that change of plot focus work.

Popeye and Olive Oyl realize Bluto’s trick. Popeye eats his remaining can of spinach and turns into … I’m not sure. He looks a little like your classic Von Braun Man-Will-Conquer-Space-Soon style rocket. Or maybe an anchor? Neither quite makes sense, since he uses the geyser from the sink to launch into the air. Popeye grabs a windsock, and wraps up Bluto before he’s gotten all that far. Seems like Popeye could probably have caught him by running, too, although then where would the windsock have come from? The water floods out of Olive’s house, and Popeye has the idea to replace all the leaking pipes with empty spinach cans. This works right up until Olive Oyl tests it, when instead of water, spinach pours out of the faucets. This is what happens when you pay attention to your own needs more than those of the friend you’re doing the work for.

So none of these are bad ideas. But the short feels episodic, a bunch of good starting points for jokes. The storyline felt scattershot, as if the writer couldn’t think of a funny thing to do with Olive’s house leaking. Or a funny reason for it to have started leaking. It’s among the weaker of these cartoons.


I’m doing my best to review all these Popeye’s Island Adventures. Essays about them should be at this link.

Popeye’s Island Adventures tries some art


This week’s is a short Popeye’s Island Adventure. I clock it at running two minutes exactly. That’s all right. It’s really funny as it is. Popeye The Painter doesn’t need to be longer just to be longer. Let’s watch.

There’s almost no plot to this short. It’s all setup and punchline. It works. Maybe because the premise is both simple and flexible. Popeye wants a painting. Setup: he tries painting something. Punchline: we see what he’s looking at. Repeat for as many good jokes as the still-unknown-to-us writers have. Add any running jokes and you have a story.

It’s all solid enough jokes, too. Fine art almost always harmonizes well with cartoons. I’m not sure why. It might be that the technical skill of a masterpiece gives a cartoon a better sounding board for its jokes. It might be that animators get really excited about playing with great art. Maybe not; the animation here was about the same as ever, with the writing setting up the comedy. In any case it usually goes well, unless the cartoon goes on about modern art.

Popeye’s first painting is a riff on Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, starring Olive Oyl, Eugene, and Swee’Pea. The reality is less glamorous: Olive Oyl, Eugene, and Swee’Pea are trying desperately to escape a giant man-eating clam. It’s a funny setup, and I like seeing how the other characters are off having adventures even when we’re busy watching Popeye.

Then we get a version of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, featuring Popeye and Bluto. It’s theologically weird. But we can ask whether Popeye would have been such a great cartoon character if he didn’t have Bluto to play against. There are many cartoons without Bluto, but they are typically less interesting. The “reality” scene is a bit odd too. Bluto’s hanging from a crane in what looks like the aftermath of a scheme to make mischief. That’s fine, and again, I like the suggestion the characters have other stuff going on. Also that apparently Bluto mistook the scarecrow Popeye for the real one, pleasantly goofy. Popeye throwing away the painting makes sense; that this hits the crane’s controls and sends Bluto spinning away seems imbalanced, though. I feel like just abandoning Bluto to his plight would fit better.

On to modern art! Cartoons and comic strips are usually very cranky old men regarding modern art, the last place you can get paid for saying “my kid could’ve drawn that”. This cartoon isn’t so cranky. Popeye paints a Picasso-esque Portrait of Dora Maar. Eugene’s horrified by how distorted his head’s gotten; a good sneeze fixes things.

Then Swee’Pea in a version of Edvard Munch’s Scream. Swee’Pea has something to scream at: it’s the giant man-eating clam, off on a rampage. It’s sudden and funny and by making a running joke gives the cartoon just enough story.

Finally Popeye gets inspiration, drawing a spinached up version of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. There’s some nice variations on the eating-the-spinach routine here. In past art cartoons Popeye’s eaten a can of spinach to gain artistic skill. Here he just uses it as a dab of paint, and that’s another smile for me. The music is different too, doing a more chamber music version of the New Popeye theme. He’s finally got the right painting for his wall. Meanwhile Olive Oyl, Eugene, Bluto, and Swee’Pea are fleeing the giant rampaging man-eating clam. Perfect resolution.

I watch these shorts several times over before writing them up, and usually another time while writing an essay. Sometimes shorts improve on the rewatching; sometimes I need a couple watches to get it. This is one I just got right away, and liked from the start. Good concept, well executed. And it finds space to fit in a Magritte joke that’s thematically appropriate to the cartoon and a riff on how Young Popeye doesn’t have his pipe. Good work all around.

I’m doing my best to review all these Popeye’s Island Adventures. Essays about them should be at this link.

Popeye’s Island Adventures has dark, stormy night


One of those questions you never think to ask until you look hard at the record: is Popeye a good sailor? And the reflexive answer is, of course he is. But if you go looking at all the classic cartoons, and many of the comic strip adventures … he ends up adrift at sea a lot. That isn’t by itself a sign of being a bad sailor. After all, I have a perfect record so far of never being adrift at sea. But I live in Lansing, Michigan. The most sailing I do is pedaling a swan boat at an amusement park and reading books about the history of longitude. THere’s lints to how much trouble I can get in. Maybe Popeye ends up adrift at sea because he does so much more, and in such challenging circumstances, than even the normal sailor would.

This week’s Popeye’s Island Adventures is After The Big Storm. I think it’s the first one not to have Olive Oyl appear. Despite that, it’s a long cartoon, going 2:22 before it finishes.

We start in the big storm, making the title a forgivable lie. I’d wondered whether we needed Swee’Pea in the cartoon. But he serves a role. If Swee’Pea weren’t trying to fly a kite in the storm, Popeye wouldn’t have reasons to board up the windows. And then Popeye couldn’t have the clumsy accident that knocks him out. Popeye’s always a bit of a klutz in these Island Adventures stories, but that would be a bit much. Accidentally nailing himself to the wall, and dropping a can of spinach on his head, makes sense if he’s focusing on keeping Swee’Pea from kite-flying in the thunderstorm.

Come morning, Popeye’s house is out at sea. And I guess I’d assumed his house was a functional boat that happened to be on land. It’s not so functional as that. This makes me realize that back in X Marks The Spot he had a separate boat. Popeye’s house, meanwhile, has laundry to dry on the sailing mast. He’s got fishing poles and boards and shovels and all that can be strapped together to make an oar. But not a good oar. Bit of a fix.

48 seconds in Bluto finally emerges into the cartoon. He’s got this week’s contraption to go over and mess with Popeye’s house. I like the conceit that of course Bluto just keeps putting together these gadgets to mess with Popeye. It’s villainous but not mean-spirited somehow. This week’s contraption, which looks to me like a cheap version of the robots from The Incredibles, got wrecked in the storm anyway. Bluto can rebuild the legs of it, and shrugs and accepts he just has to push it into place.

Swee’Pea reenters the plot, and also assures us that nothing untoward happened after he went kite-flying in a thunderstorm. He drifts by, held aloft by his kite. So Popeye takes the hint, and weaves all his dirty clothes that he never wears into a giant kite. Then eats his spinach to tether the kite to his mast. Bit surprising to see Popeye turn into a Plastic Man-like extendable figure, but, that’ll happen. And it works brilliantly, lifting his boat out of the water. He’s able to guide it, too, so his home lands right back on its normal base. Have to say that is astounding navigation. Apparently he really is that good a sailor, and he just ends up in fixes a lot because he dares a lot.

Bluto gets to Popeye’s house’s base first. I like Bluto’s disappointment that the house is gone. It’s a funny reaction. The house lands right in front of him, though, and he can go back to work. The contraption sucks up Popeye’s Unused Clothing Kite, and it explodes, showering him with dirty laundry. Swee’Pea falls in Popeye’s arms, and Swee’Pea’s kite hits Popeye in the face. Decent ending.

Still, I feel disappointed in the short overall. It’s a good premise. Popeye lost at sea and having to improvise some solution is a good setup, and it can be done in pantomime. But there’s not much storyline. There’s a few steps toward Popeye trying to get out of his fix and failing, with the laundry on the mast, the failure of an oar. But there’s not enough ingenuity in this. I like this characterization of Bluto as just this guy trying to mess with Popeye ’cause. But here, it doesn’t add anything to the story. It’s just time spent on something that never makes Popeye’s life any harder, and that gets resolved without Popeye specifically doing anything. I’d rather they have dropped that, and given the time over to Popeye trying to sail his house more.

So the short’s competent enough. It’s just a good idea for a story rather than a well-executed one.


I’m doing my best to review all these Popeye’s Island Adventures. Essays about them should be at this link.

Popeye’s Island Adventures is building castles in the sand


This week’s Popeye’s Island Adventure runs long. Not that long, just two minutes 15 seconds. That’s even longer than the busy one which introduced Swee’Pea. What do they do with all that time? … They build sandcastles. Here’s episode 14, Epic Sandcastle Battle.

We start with Olive Oyl leading Popeye in sandcastle-making. She’s got plans. Bluto interrupts them by having a machine which he uses to build a castle in seconds. This offends Popeye for some reason. Well, they’re kids, they can take offense at someone else just existing without it being too bad. He marches off, leaving Olive Oyl to her own subplot. Popeye stares down Bluto, and eats his spinach. At only 25 seconds in, which might be an all-time record for Popeye resorting to this. And we’re all left admitting there’s no answer to why Popeye doesn’t always eat his spinach first. He builds a castle in seconds himself, and gets back to glaring and making threatening grunts at Bluto.

Eugene the Jeep interrupts. We haven’t seen him in a while, not since the disturbing cloning episode. As with the kraken episode Eugene sets himself up as referee. And the short got me. Bluto’s castle rating a 6? Fine enough. Popeye’s rating a 9? When they looked about equally good? I didn’t think Eugene that partial and was pleasantly surprised that it was a fake-out.

Bluto whips up a new sandcastle, that crocodile friend he dreams about having, and has in pool toy form. Popeye makes a can of spinach. Bluto gets more serious, building an Eiffel Tower. And now the short gets really good. It was decent before, with a bunch of nice little jokes like Popeye sawing his way out of a pile of sand, or Eugene’s 9-no-6 scoring fakeout. But now it gets to a new level. Popeye punches open the sand “can” of spinach, and uses the blob of sand “spinach” to build something no less impressive, a Big Ben.

Bluto had added to the skill of his Eiffel Tower by putting on a comic Frenchman moustache and a strand of shells, plus that We’re Set In France background music. Popeye dons a Beefeater’s hat and offers Eugene tea. Great extra comic joke. It’s sand tea. Oh, that’s really good.

Bluto builds a Colosseum. Eugene’s intrigued. Popeye gets his attention, tapping with the long pole of a gondola, which he rows over to the Leaning Tower of Pisa he’s built. Bluto sits Eugene down and serves him sand cannolis; Popeye matches with sand spaghetti. They grind enough pepper on him that Eugene sneezes. It sends the Leaning Tower of Pisa, after a moment of straightening out, falling over into Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, and the Colosseum. It’s all a fine mess.

Eugene magics his way out of the rubble. Olive Oyl, whom you may remember was in this short, has finished her sculpture. It’s a heroic pose of Eugene the Jeep, which he immediately awards a perfect 10. You do have to work the judges.

I like this one. I like it a bit more each time I watch it. The premise is solid. The competition grows sensibly, and it’s resolved well. That’s all fine. What raises this a level is that all the business is done in funny ways. Popeye sawing his way out of a heap of sand, at the start. Popeye as a Beefeater offering Eugene tea. It being sand tea. Bluto, Eugene, and Popeye gasping as the Leaning Tower of Pisa comes to stand upright, and relaxing as it tilts again. Bluto dusting off his first sandcastle to present it to Eugene. These are all small jokes. But they’re well-formed, placed at the right moments, and well-timed. Once again I’d like to know more about the making of these shorts, particularly the writers, directors, and production order. It’d be good to know whether better-than-average cartoons like this are because one team is quite good at this, or whether everyone’s getting the hang of the two-minute Flash cartoon.


They seem committed to making Popeye’s Island Adventures. I seem committed to having thoughts about Popeye’s Island Adventures, with the results here.

Popeye’s Island Adventures flirts with becoming the Popeye pinball machine


So, something the Popeye’s Island Adventure people declared when the series started and that hasn’t come up before. It’s part of their declaration about how this series is different from earlier Popeye cartoons.

The show combines the original squash and stretch animation style with a fresh update on the original characters and storyline. The new Popeye has a youthful appearance and more eco-friendly position, growing spinach on the roof of his dieselpunk style houseboat and collecting rain water in barrels.

I do not know what deiselpunk is but I can confidently say no, Popeye is not deiselpunk. I can say I am more deiselpunk, and please consider, I spent much of yesterday rewinding and listening again more carefully to a podcast explaining the historical reasons, connected to pronunciation shifts, regarding why the letter ‘c’ is used to represent both the soft-s and hard-k sounds. The claim that this is a more eco-friendly Popeye, though? That … hasn’t really played into any of the cartoons. And then came this week’s cartoon, Commotion in the Ocean.

So. This, yes, has almost nothing discernable to do with Python Anghelo’s incredible and bonkers concept document for the Popeye pinball game of the 1990s. It starts with Bluto surrounded by mounds of garbage. I’m not sure why Bluto is always assumed to be a garbage lord like this. I suppose it’s the thought that you have to be a bad person to litter, so therefore a really bad person is surrounded by a lot of garbage. Which is all right until you consider what signal that sends people who aren’t able to clean as much as they “ought”. We mock the messy and the cluttered and the hoarders; is that decent?

Anyway, Bluto’s sick of the mess in his submarine, and gets to cleaning it. His preferred method: shooting it out his gun barrel. Silly; he should be doing this responsibly, by putting it in a landfill, which is a societally-approved heap of garbage we put on top of the wetlands that would otherwise be keeping the planet alive. Bluto gets away with it until he lands a heap of trash on Popeye and Olive Oyl’s boat. Popeye was pulling some traditional fishing garbage — a metal bin, a funnel — out of the water before that. I’m not clear whether that was supposed to be from earlier Bluto trash bombs, or just Popeye’s bad luck. I’m also surprised he didn’t pull up a boot or old inner tube. But pulling up a funnel and a metal box was probably necessary. It foreshadows the end of the cartoon.

Popeye and Olive Oyl are able to track down who’s responsible for the trash by looking at some of the underwear in it. It’s got Bluto’s face on it. There are several questions this raises. First is why Popeye and Olive Oyl had to wait until we, the audience, could see Bluto’s face-underwear before reacting to it. They’d seen it when the under-face was looking at them, away from us. Also, granted, these shorts are trying to be language-neutral. Is this plot point best established by face-underwear? Also, so, when Bluto wears his face-underwear, which way is his face looking? I feel like these questions are a little unfair, but would the target audience for this cartoon ask different questions?

They spot the source fast enough anyway, with a cute throwaway joke of Popeye looking through a Pringles tube. After a couple more loads of garbage Popeye sees a corked bottle, giving him an idea: try eating spinach. This week the amazing transformation is to fuse his legs together to cork up Bluto’s gun barrel. This change doesn’t seem weird the way the sponge thing last week did. Blocking a gun barrel by jamming yourself in it seems like a common enough cartoon logic, so this feels justified to me. Olive Oyl holding up a judge’s ’10’ sign at Popeye’s hopping around is a cute bit too.

Olive Oyl remembers the funnel from earlier, and they set up … I guess the destroyed gun barrel? … as funnel into Bluto’s submarine, tossing trash back into that. Bluto shrugs and starts sorting out his recyclables. Which is fine for his glass and metal cans and all. I don’t know what recycling bin heaps of brownish-green goop go in.

All these cartoons feel abbreviated. This one particularly so, though. The premise is fine enough. It’s just there’s no real conflict. Bluto throws garbage into the lagoon, Popeye throws it back on him. Couldn’t there be at least one change of fortune along the way? But then I want contradictory things, too. This short avoided the frantic pace that the series has fallen prey to so often. Scenes were well-established, and there was plenty of time to see and understand the action. And the short does well showing off something that inspires a character’s specific ideas. Bluto smashing against the porthole after his first stoppered gun-blast is well-delivered, too.


I’m doing my best to review all these Popeye’s Island Adventures. Essays about them should be at this link.

Popeye’s Island Adventures: wait, spinach causes transmogrifications? This changes everything!


Perhaps the near-miss between Popeye’s birthday, in these cartoons, and the 90th anniversary of his debut in the comic strip was coincidence. This week’s two-minute cartoon is Heatwave, and that’s only seasonal if you’re south of the equator. Which, in fairness, Popeye must be sometimes. But I suspect if they do a Christmas cartoon it’ll be all snowy and winter-y.

Is Bluto dumb? The Popeye cartoon settings have always been malleable about their details. Their settings and what exactly Popeye and Bluto and Olive Oyl know about each other at the start of the cartoon. Whether Bluto is dumb affects the story, though. It sets the bounds of how clever a trick he can do, and how clever Popeye has to be to foil him. I think mostly he gets lumped into the “dumb” category. He’s got size and strength going for him. He has to dump something to stay balanced, by cartoon character creation rules. But smart and strong makes him a tougher antagonist. It’s, generically, more fun seeing the hero beat a tougher opponent.

In the Popeye’s Island Adventure series everybody’s a kid. I’m not clear just how young, but that’s all right. Every age of kid is dumb in their own ways, most of them all right. It makes it less weird someone might do something dumb. But Bluto’s smartness, relative to Popeye and Olive Oyl, is still important and still shapes the plot.

The story starts with a simple premise right there in the cartoon’s title. Popeye and his spinach are wilting in the heat. He brings a sad, nearly dead plant to Olive Oyl’s, and that’s all right. She’s got plenty of water, thanks to a water purifier that Popeye somehow didn’t notice when he arrived. I like giving Olive Oyl this trait of being a tinkerer, in part since that gives her something to do that isn’t waiting to be captured or rescued. Olive’s happy to lend Popeye her water-purifier, too.

Bluto builds a swimming pool. This seems idiosyncratic, since he’s never more than like twenty feet from the shore. But I understand preferring to swim in domesticated water. He builds kind of a shabby one, but not a bad one for a kid. And then he starts pumping swamp water in to fill it. He’s startled that he gets a pool of swamp water. What did he expect?

I can kind of follow the kid logic of “if it’s in a swimming pool, it has to be clean swimming pool water”. I mean, it’s a mistake, but I get the essentialist reasoning there. This Bluto seems old to be making that mistake, though. Olive Oyl, presumably about the same age, is building a water purifier. So is he dumb? Or just oblivious?

The cartoon goes on in the obvious, reasonable way from there. Bluto swipes the water purifier and fills up his pond. And he’s got a cute alligator inflatable that reminds me of the alligator pet he dreamed of in Scramble For The Egg.

Popeye and Olive Oyl follow Bluto back to his swimming pool. They surveil the situation and Popeye eats his spinach. And transforms into a human sponge. And I’m really not sure I like that. I was okay with his turning into a mer-man last week, for example. And I’m not sure why this isn’t okay. There’s a couple influences, I think. One is that an extended underwater sequence always has a slightly dreamy logic to it, so more absurd things feel less outrageous. And being in the water and turning to a water creature has tones of … oh, let’s call it sympathetic magic. Here, Popeye just looks at a sponge, eats a can of spinach, and turns into a sponge-torsoed human-form. There’s a linking step missing there, perhaps because the cartoon’s too short to justify it.

Popeye sponges up Bluto’s swimming pool, blasts all that water into the purifier and sprays Bluto with even more swamp water, and the action’s done. The button is Popeye taking a swig of Bluto’s drink and, uh-oh, that’s swamp water too. Good enough ending, certainly.

There’s much I like about the cartoon. The storyline’s logical, apart from Popeye’s spinach-induced sponge transformation. But what everyone does and why they do it makes sense. It feels underdeveloped, though. Everybody wants a thing, and then Bluto does a mean thing, and then Popeye foils it, and that’s all. I’d like a bit more escalation, or some wrinkles where trying to do something fails and they have to try again. This might be impossible, given there’s only two minutes of cartoon time. But there were 35 seconds spent establishing the heat wave before we see Olive Oyl’s water purifier. What if the cartoon started with an establishing shot of the heat waves rolling the atmosphere, and then Popeye with his wilted spinach at Olive’s door?

This is one of the cartoons I’d like to see done as a real, full, six-to-eight minute short.


I’m doing my best to watch all the Popeye’s Island Adventures. The cartoons’ reviews should be at this link.

Popeye’s Island Adventures: Popeye does some sailing, treasure-hunting


That hiccough that left me without a cartoon for a week hasn’t repeated. That’s mostly good. I’ve accepted that I have a fondness for the King Features cartoons of the 1960s and would take the excuse to write about them some more. I should bank a couple of cartoon essays about those, if I want to write so much about them, and have a reserve against future cartoon gaps.

That’s for the future, for work that would make my life easier and that I won’t do anyway. This week there is a new Popeye’s Island Adventure. This one is titled X Marks The Spot. It’s, I believe, the first one without Olive Oyl. It’s also one of the rare cartoons without Eugene the Jeep. I think only Swee’Pea Arrives and A Toast To Popeye haven’t had Eugene before.

This is one of the Island Adventures cartoons that doesn’t get all weird. Popeye and Bluto been sea-diving before, for example in 1935’s Dizzy Divers. Bluto even snaps a picture of Popeye’s (well, Olive Oyl’s) map to start a treasure race in 1940’s Stealin’ Ain’t Honest. It makes good sense they’d then race to the treasure spot, and try to foil one another’s ships.

I like the way the cartoon built from there. The race is a good story setup. Popeye’s and Bluto’s attempts to foil each other make sense, at least by cartoon logic. Popeye seduced by the siren-call of a can of spinach gave me a laugh I quite liked. It’s absurd but sensible in character and in story; what more would you want?

Adding in a third party? That’s a good, sensible escalation. Does Swee’Pea make more sense than Olive Oyl? Either is probably as good. More sense than Eugene the Jeep? I suppose so; what does Eugene need with mere human treasures? And the series hasn’t introduced the kid versions of other characters yet. So I’m not sure that two minutes five seconds would be enough to carry this story and the burden of introducing someone new.

But let me speculate. Wimpy would be a good third party, if he could be roused to action, and if he were in the series. Poopdeck Pappy might fit well too, except I’m not sure how old you would make him to fit the series. I’d be interested in seeing a Young Sea Hag, except that having the evil character win the treasure would change the tone of the ending. Alice the Goon would be great, though. Past that we get into minor Thimble Theatre characters who might excite me and my love but wouldn’t even register to actual people. Toar? Sure, anyone who hangs around me long enough is going to hear about how great Toar is. But I’m not asking anyone to put up with me. Roughhouse, the diner owner, similarly, has that problem. But there the dozen of people who read Hy Eisman’s Sunday Popeye comics at least see him. Geezil? He’s good when he’s playing against Wimpy. When he doesn’t have Wimpy to hate on, you notice the … type … that E C Segar was using for him.

So. Swee’Pea it is, and that’s probably the best choice they could make, even if we expanded the Island Adventures cast.

Popeye and Bluto dive at the treasure spot. Popeye gulps down his spinach and grows a merman’s tail. That’s new. It’s a bit weird, yes, but it’s no giant-tooth weird. To me that doesn’t feel out of line with, like, Popeye spinning his ears fast enough to lift into the air, as in Follow The Spinach. Or more ancient cartoons where Popeye would, say, turn into a torpedo for the sake of hitting someone. I grant I also like merman and mermaid characters, so, what the heck. I don’t blame you if that’s a touch too weird.

Bluto and Popeye get scared off by a skeleton. This makes sense for them as kids in a way it wouldn’t quite if they were full-grown. That it’s a trick by Swee’Pea, well, I saw it coming but I still liked it. It’s all a happy enough ending.

This short feels like a condensed version of a normal cartoon, which is a style that I like in these. It’s got a premise and a storyline that fit Popeye, and even fit Popeye as a sailor. The resolution satisfies me. I’m happy with this.


My thoughts about all these Popeye’s Island Adventures ought to appear at this link.

One more thing about the 80s


This stray thought about the 1980s and the cartoons and how there was this Pac-Man cartoon and all. Also the Pac-Man cartoon technically had Pac-Man and the Ghosts running around trying to bite each other. But because of what you could show on TV at the time, and what you could animate, you could argue the Ghosts were just trying to lick Pac-Man a lot. That would totally change things, especially the episode set in prehistoric times from before the discovery of Pac-Power-Pellets, when Pac-Men were helpless against Ghost licks, much as we humans are today.

Popeye’s Island Adventure: send in the clones


Whatever happened last week was apparently not the end of new Popeye’s Island Adventures. Maybe I was right to guess someone was on vacation. So here’s the tenth of the series, Popeye Squared.

Sometimes there’ll be a good story idea for a character hanging around, waiting, for nearly a century before someone does it. Here’s one of them. There’ve been cartoons where someone has duplicated Popeye, either impersonating him (Hello, How Am I, 1939), or building a mannequin to fool Olive Oyl (Puppet Love, 1944), or building a robot to fool Olive Oyl (Robot Popeye, 1960), or something. And there’s, I believe, at least one Bud Sagendorf story in the comic strip where Swee’pea gets duplicated. But Popeye himself, duplicated? With, like, normal good versions rather than evil ones? I haven’t seen that before. And that’s a great idea.

The short starts with Eugene, using his powers of advancing the plot. He’s somehow found a magic pool that duplicates stuff tossed in it, and that’s great for the apple shortage. While he’s off getting more fruits to duplicate Popeye wanders over and falls in. Young Popeye is a pretty clumsy fellow around here. It’s a bit endearing, and he does need something on his side since he can’t mutter anything fun in this series.

He heads off without noticing anything. The pool, after a pause, spits up a Duplicate Popeye, and then another, and then another. I don’t mind that the Duplicate Popeyes took longer to start making than the apple did. I can write that off as editing, especially since the short only has 130 seconds to do its business. What I don’t get is why there’s no end of Duplicate Popeyes and only the one apple. (Maybe the pool stops duplicating when the original and existing duplicates are removed? I don’t know. This really only matters for people roleplaying Popeye’s Island Adventures at home.)

The Duplicate Popeyes like each other, which in turn I like. The scene about 40 seconds in of them all just ack-laughing at each other tickles me. Eugene gets back, is shocked, and puts an end to the duplicating by covering the pond with a giant rock. I assume this means the pool gets buried under a pile of many gigantic duplicate rocks, but we don’t see that. Instead the Duplicate Popeyes go off about Popeye business.

And that gets to the high point of this cartoon and one of the high points of this series. A dazed Olive Oyl having eight Popeyes over for tea? She’s got a great expression. And it’s well-directed, repeated cuts out to establish there’s even more Popeyes and even more ack-laughing going on. Following that up with a dazed Swee’Pea, similarly, being read to by five Popeyes? That’s great. That all of them are making the inarticulate Popeye-ish grunts that the series has used? Even better, and a moment of using one of the series’ biggest limitations to be funnier. So by 1:09 in I was ready to call this my favorite of the series.

Then it all falls apart. Popeye’s in his ship-home, doing a bit of charting. (And as a person who’s never really understood navigation charts, his insight how to get there entertained me.) Then a bunch of Duplicate Popeyes break in and spill cans of spinach all over the place. Seven-year-old me would appreciate knowing that spinach cans are so fragile these days. He was always disappointed with his experiments squeezing a can open.

The Duplicate Popeyes lick up some spinach and then disintegrate into a green goo. And, well, that’s a quick and simple horrifying way out of the too-many-Popeyes problem, isn’t it? Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Swee’Pea set up to spray the island for Duplicate Popeyes. And for the last half-minute of the short, it’s various ways to get a blob of spinach into a Duplicate Popeye’s mouth and watching them disintegrate. Some of these ways are fun, like Olive’s spring-loaded Loving Cup. Some of these scenes include funny weird bits, like several Duplicate Popeyes pointing and laughing at an apple. And the music behind it is this fun, playful version of the series’ theme. But … gah, it’s eleven Duplicate Popeyes disintegrating into gooey puddles.

I mean, I felt for the Duplicates. I don’t want Popeye killing them. I suppose they were doomed to be short-lived anyway, given their vulnerability to the element of spinach and being Popeye clones and all. But the cartoon is taking lightly something that I just can’t.

So, the last hour just crashed the production for me. And no, I don’t know how to get out of the problem of “we probably should not actually have fourteen Popeyes hanging around”. Maybe they all swallow cans of Baseline Popeye’s spinach in order to fend off a startled Bluto, and they melt then. Which is still bad but would leave nobody morally responsible the result. Anyway, you shouldn’t make clones just to kill them. It’s a controversial stand but I’ll stand there.

This and my other reviews of Popeye’s Island Adventures ought to be posted at this link.

Something Else About the 1980s


Oh, you know, I thought of something I didn’t mention last week.

The people who made cartoons really liked the space shuttle. Every show had at least one space shuttle episode. The Jetsons made a space shuttle episode they really made for real in reality. There was an episode of the Pac-Man cartoon where every power pellet in the world was loaded into a space shuttle cargo bay. Then Pac-Man went and ate them all, when you’d think he would need one, maybe two at most. There’s an excellent chance there were four different space shuttle episodes of Kissyfur. Also I don’t know what Kissyfur was but I remember there were lots of ads for it in comic books. It was a heck of a time, but I suppose they all were.

Popeye’s Island Adventures ditched me this week so here’s another Popeye birthday with the Jeep


So, there hasn’t been a new Popeye’s Island Adventures uploaded since that one for Popeye’s birthday. I have not the faintest what this signifies, or even if it’s anything more than “the person who approves these cartoons before posting them had a vacation week coming”. It throws me off, though. I’d been expecting something to review. For a wonder I’ve got stuff to post sketched out for nearly a week ahead. But today? No, all I have for today is the conceptual fragment “the largest-ever spill of working fluid from the Shrinkatorium, a volume estimated at nearly four tablespoons” and it’s possible I might build that into something, but it’s not there yet. (I also think I should do more with “Muppet Babies Kids”, but at least I was able to put that idea somewhere it did some good.)

Well. King Features’s Popeye account posts stuff besides these weird new Flash(?)-animated two-minute shorts. They’ve also been posting stuff from the King Features archives. So here’s one from the 1960s run, that I picked out because I didn’t have the time to watch a half-hour episode of the 70s-80s Hanna-Barbera run, nor of the late 80s Popeye and Son. It’s from 1960, one of the mass of 800 billion cartoons they made in ten minutes: Jeep Is Jeep.

The cartoon was animated by Paramount Cartoon, their Famous Studios, and for that matter the former Fleischer Studios. The credited animators were Morey Reden, Isadore Klein, and William B Pattengill. Reden had done a couple of Pluto shorts for Disney, moved over to Famous Studios in time for, like, The Anvil Chorus Girl, and would go on to animate stuff like Beetle Bailey and Milton the Monster before getting into the Hanna-Barbera circuit. Klein was an animator some in the 40s, then moved into story for a long while for Famous Studios (he’s also credited with the story here), and then back into animation. Pattengill was also a career Famous Studios artist, starting with (it looks to me) the Little Lulu cartoons, Herman and Katnip, and Popeye. He did also work on the 1973 Charlotte’s Web. And Seymour Kneitel directed, like, everything the Fleischer or Famous Studios ever put out.

Toward the end of the Famous Studios run the Popeye cartoons were getting pretty dire, boring things with mediocre animation. But among the 1960s King Features cartoons, mediocre animation looked pretty good. And they knew the characters and settings well.

Very well, at that. The short is almost made up of scraps of other cartoons. I’m not counting the mention that it’s Popeye’s birthday, although that makes a nice link for me to last week’s cartoon. Also apparently Popeye’s birthday is in April, or the present is arriving quite early or late. But Popeye getting a mysterious box which contains Eugene? And a note that explains it all? Fleischer studios did that in 1940, in Popeye Presents Eugene, the Jeep. Swee’Pea gets out of babysitter Popeye’s care and Eugene the Jeep leads him in a rescue? That was Popeye With The Jeep, from June 1938. Yes, Eugene appeared in a cartoon before he got “presented”. Just roll with it. Popeye has to keep performing to keep Swee’Pea from crying? I Likes Babies and Infinks, 1937.

So this cartoon isn’t an improvement on any of those. Knew that going in. There’s some good stuff here. One is getting Eugene the Jeep back in action. For whatever reason the Famous Studios cartoons never used Eugene. For all the mistakes of the King Features run, they got back interesting characters who’d been forgotten after the Fleischer Studios closed up (Eugene, Poopdeck Pappy, Goons), or that somehow never got used at all (the Sea Hag, the Whiffle Hen, Roughhouse). He’s a bit more angular here, and his patterning is simplified, but what the heck, it works for me. Eugene here is a gift from “the Maharaja of Pasha”, a character I think was made up for the short and that shows how hard they worked on “foreign” names back then.

Eugene the Jeep has traditionally been from Africa; I’m curious why he’s from India now. Or, I guess, they just establish he got to India, without quite saying the Jeep is an Indian animal now. All right; no problem with Eugene having a life before he meets Popeye. But I’m curious if the shift to India reflected some pop-cultural idea of India as a land of mysticism and magic. Or if they just had that great “Maharaja of Pasha” joke ready to go and were going to use it. Or if they couldn’t think of a joke African name. I’m sure a circa 1960 joke African name would have aged well.

The jokes about Eugene’s magic seem reused, even if I’m not sure he actually did make traffic vanish in an earlier short. I notice Popeye gets hit by the same two cars that Eugene made vanish. So it’s comforting to know Eugene didn’t banish them to the cornfield, he just moved them like two blocks away instead. Eugene walking through a wall and Popeye chagrinned that he can’t do that too was done before, along with mutterings about why he can’t do that too.

Popeye punches a locomotive into oblivion. It’s a move he’s made before. Really seems like he would have had an easier time grabbing Swee’Pea and running. But we need some action. Also Swee’Pea riding Eugene like a horse is adorable.

Eugene’s ability to teleport gets set up properly, but doesn’t come into play. And that muddies one of the few moments of animation style here. Popeye teleporting around the room searching for Swee’Pea should be a good, cheap way to show frantic energy. But if we’ve just had Eugene teleporting with the same style? I’m sure this never bothered me as a kid; today, it seems a misstep. At least Popeye needed to move around with a swooshing noise instead of the bell chime. His walking through walls at least pays off with a joke. And it gets used for a nice bit where Eugene walks at an angle toward the camera, a rare and welcome moment of characters not just walking perpendicular to the camera. The characters crossing the street is a similarly welcome, not-quite-perspective movement.


Well, if Popeye’s Island Adventures comes back, I’ll review them at essays available on this link. If it doesn’t, I’ll do something else.

Some Things To Understand About The 1980s


Here are some things worth explaining about the 1980s, or that are getting explanation anyway.

The decade was heralded by an argument between seven-year-olds who were friends, yes. But the question was whether the year following nineteen-seventy-nine would be nineteen-eighty or whether it would be nineteen-seventy-ten. And whether the decade would have to get all the way up to nineteen-seventy-ninety-nine before it flipped over to nineteen-eighty. The party taking the nineteen-seventy-ten side was very cross at the calendar-makers for not leaving the matter up to the public to dedide.

The President had a press spokesman whose name was Larry Speakes, and it seemed like it was amusing that he had a first and last name that sounded like you were describing what your friend Larry did for his job. His middle name was ‘Melvin’, but nobody could come to an agreement about what it was to Melvin a thing, or whether ‘Larry Melvin’ was a credible name. There was similar but baffled delight when we noticed that Buzz Aldrin’s mother’s maiden name was ‘Moon’. This was very important because lists of trivia about people and their names could point out that Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon. And while it’s possible he walked on his mother, we’re pretty sure she wasn’t a maiden when he did it. There was also a bit of a flap about how if you took Neil Armstrong’s name and discarded the ‘rmstrong’ part, and then spelled it backwards, you got ‘Alien’. This seemed like it ought to have something to do with his job, although by the 1980s, Neil Armstrong’s job was “chair of a company that made drilling rigs”. This seems highly significant.

Although we had pop culture, it was seen as really swell to make a kid version of popular. Looney Tunes as kids. The Flintstone Kids. Scooby Doo, but a puppy. The trend reached its peak with the 1989-90 Muppet Babies Kids, the exciting follow-up adventures to the animated adventures of the toddler versions of the live-action-ish Muppets. The show was a computer game, because why not? You know? Why not?

With the advent of the pizza-on-a-bagel American society finally handled the imaginary problem of not being able to get pizza anytime. But by putting pizza-related toppings on a bagel we did finish off the problem of bagels not being terrible. I think the problem is bagels had just got introduced outside the New York City metro area. I mean, there was a little stretch in the late 30s when Fred Allen was talking about them. But that was in joking about people who mistook bagels for doughnuts as part of the surprisingly existent controversy about dunking doughnuts in coffee. So explaining them as a pizza-foundation technology let people understand bagels in terms of things we had already accepted, like putting pizza on French bread. Also we could put pizza on the bottom halves of French bread. We don’t know what was done with the top halves. There’s an excellent chance someone at French Bread Pizza headquarters is going to open a forgotten cabinet door one day and get buried under forty years’ worth of abandoned French bread tops. People will call for rescue, but however many times they explain it to 9-1-1 the dispatch operator hangs up.

We had movies, back then. They were a lot like movies today, except everybody’s cars were shoddier. I mean, not that they were 80s cars, although they were, but they were more broken-down 80s cars than you’d get in a movie set in the 80s now. It was part of the legacy of 70s New Hollywood. We might have gotten rid of the muddy sound and action heroes that looked like Walter Matthau, but we were going to keep the vehicles looking downtrodden until 1989. And there was usually a subplot about smugglers who’re after some stolen heroin diamonds. Anyway, when going to the movies it was very funny to observe the theater had, like, six or even eight whole screens. For example, you could say “I’m going to the Route 18 Googolplex” to describe how amazing it was you might see any of four different films that were starting in the same 45-minute stretch of time.

The decade closed with an argument between seven-year-olds about whether the following year was nineteen-eighty-ten or not. These were different seven-year-olds from before. It would have been a bit odd otherwise. You’d think they would have remembered.

Do not dunk bagels in coffee.

Popeye’s Island Adventures: Popeye gets a birthday without Shorty for once


King Features Syndicate has clearly decided to try reintroducing Popeye to the popular culture for the 90th anniversary of his debut and 100th anniversary of the Thimble Theatre comic strip he debuted in and took over. Part of this is a cute weekly comic feature, drawn by a host of different artists, called Popeye’s Cartoon Club. Part of this is surely this whole Island Adventures project. This week’s cartoon, Popeye’s Birthday, suggests that the two-minute shorts started publishing a few weeks late. The cartoon just missed the 90th anniversary of the character’s debut. (I don’t know whether Popeye has a canonically established birth date. I would imagine if he has, then it’s been contradicted several times. His debut date is as good a choice as we can have.)

After last week’s honestly baffling cartoon this was a comfortably straightforward story. Olive Oyl organizes a surprise birthday party for Popeye. Bluto tries to crash it. Along the way, Eugene has to delay Popeye from stumbling into the party before it’s ready. Everybody’s doing things for reasons that make sense.

So here’s something I noticed about Bluto trying to crash the party: nobody even knows he’s doing it. That Olive Oyl is able to hang Bluto as a piñata by accident is absurd in a way that I like a little bit more each time I think about it. Later, he tries to grab Popeye’s spinach(?) cake with a fishing line, and just swipes the garbage instead. Nobody cares. In principle, I like the subtle ridiculousness of his schemes failing so badly he goes unnoticed. But it does mean the first time Olive Oyl or Popeye see him is when he falls on the cake. And that’s a thing he wasn’t trying to do.

This is another good bit of situational irony. But it makes Popeye’s and Olive Oyl’s retribution disproportionate. It feels unfair, at least unless you suppose Popeye knows when someone deserves it. Which, yes, Popeye does. One of the earliest Thimble Theatre stories with Popeye has him slugging the bad guy every time he’s on panel, with no in-character justification beyond a Columbo-like awareness that this is the bad guy. Hm. Maybe I’m the one interrogating this text from the wrong perspective.

I like how Eugene’s best idea for distracting Popeye is to shove him into a chair and start juggling. And the off-screen escalation of the juggling that still bores the Sailor Kid. Bluto’s fantasy that a big can of spinach will let him turn into a giant and chase Popeye is a cute, odd bit of kid logic. Although I guess it’s not out of line with what happened to Bluto’s tooth. (It’s reusing the walk cycle from Scramble For The Egg and I would have sworn at least one more cartoon, too. The same banana model’s being reused, too.)

It’s nagging at me how much Popeye’s been a reactive character the last few storylines. In each case it’s understandable. You can’t throw much of a surprise birthday party for someone and have them be the character who drives the story, unless the story is them spoiling the surprise. But not every short has to have every character doing everything. Even if there were more than two minutes for it.

Is the project to reintroduce Popeye working? I don’t know. My love noticed at the mall this weekend a small child wearing a winter jacket with Olive Oyl and Eugene the Jeep on it. And one of the contestants had to guess the price of a can of spinach ($1.29) on The Price Is Right today. So that’s something. Meanwhile I keep watching Popeye’s Island Adventures, and leaving my thoughts about them at this link.

Popeye’s Island Adventures: Bluto and his teeth get some attention, also spinach


It’s happened before that Bluto has been the viewpoint character for a Popeye cartoon. At least to start things in action. Focus usually returns to Bluto. This week’s Popeye’s Island Adventure might be the most that Bluto has been the protagonist for a cartoon. I say ‘might’ because I remember basically three scenes from the late-70s Hanna-Barbera run. And all I’ve seen of Popeye and Son is that sometimes it was playing, silently, on the TV in the kids corner of the Popeye’s Fried Chicken in Singapore. (There was the one Popeye’s, and it was in Changi Airport.) But let me just assert that Can’t Handle The Tooth is the most Bluto-focused cartoon, and let people correct me.

My first thought about this was the cartoon’s a mess. The second was that fluffy was going to need like four pass-throughs to follow it. I did too, really. The storyline’s still messy, but I don’t think it’s hopeless. The short needs time, though. Incidents keep happening, in a sequence that feels a bit like a dream, or like a kid attempting to tell a story. A bit more screen time would help non-kids like me follow along.

I’d have gotten some of the time from the cartoon’s start. Bluto digging into Popeye’s ship is a reasonable thing for him to do. But the action only starts when Bluto tries opening an errant can of spinach. That’s at least ten seconds of stuff we didn’t really need established. Bluto trying to open the can is decent stuff.

Half a minute in, Bluto finally has a loose tooth. Trying to get it fully loose, and having every attempt fail in stranger ways: that’s the short’s focus. I like the silent-movie-approach of tying a string to a door and how that would have failed even if Popeye had gone through the door. And I like that this sets off a briefly-glimpsed side plot where Popeye can’t catch an errant spinach can. That premise could have been a short on its own, too. It might yet be. (Maybe not. Perhaps something that’s amusing in brief glimpses in the margins of the short would be boring if it were the primary focus. At least I’ve heard of that dynamic happening. But I’m a nerd, so deep down, I believe that anything funny can only be way more funny if you do a lot of it.)

The strangest interlude is with Eugene the Jeep. It’s a moment that feels like a frustration dream. Bluto figures biting into an apple will loosen the tooth; Eugene magically swipes the apples. He even turns a bunch of apples into a baked pie. I’m not sure how I feel about Eugene’s shift to magic-assisted gluttony, but there we are. Olive Oyl stepping out in a welding mask, with a torch and pliers, is another bizarre moment. I guess she has reasons for it, as who doesn’t fix a wobbly table in the sand by applying flame and pulling things?

And then it gets really weird. It’s not new that spinach should do wondrous things for entities besides Popeye. Nor is it new that it works on inanimate objects. When a bit of spinach falls on Bluto’s finally-free tooth … it … becomes gigantic? I don’t get how that follows from the usual spinach superpowers, and I missed why Bluto, Popeye, and the tooth end up in this giant rolling ball. Popeye ends up falling on Olive’s repaired table, another showing where the Sailor Kid’s fairly hapless. Bluto ends up in the water, and loses his gigantified tooth. It’s not the first time I’ve felt bad for Bluto at the end of a cartoon, although this one feels particularly unfair to him.

I’ve watched the cartoon many times over now, so I have a fair idea what’s happened in it. I’m still struggling with why these particular things should have happened. I think it spent too much time establishing Bluto’s loose tooth, and squeezing out plot time from the attempt to pull it. More time for the failed attempts, I think, would have rewarded the short greatly. It might never make sense that Bluto’s tooth turns gigantic. But more time to process the events could have made it feel less tiring.

This is the cartoon that leaves me with the question: do teeth float?

This and my other reviews of Popeye’s Island Adventures cartoons should be here.

Popeye’s Island Adventures battles a kraken but only has two minutes for it


I continue not to know anything about the production of these Popeye’s Island Adventure cartoons. There’s stuff we can infer, but only about the tools used to make them. Who’s writing them, who’s drawing them, who’s designing the figures for the computers to animate? In what order they’re being finished? I assume roughly in the order they’re released, although I’d be surprised if a cartoon were never bumped ahead or back a week for the reasons.

Well, here’s the seventh of the new run of cartoons. It’s titled A Kraken Good Race, and the title does promise both kraken and race.

The story’s stronger this week. The cartoon’s the best, I think, since Scramble For The Egg. Eugene sets Popeye and Bluto on a boat race; Bluto tries to cheat, and it doesn’t work. Solid, straightforward idea that can be completed in two minutes and be coherent.

The action’s efficiently done. It leaves space for personality, though. The scene starts with Olive Oyl carving a wood sculpture of Eugene. Why? Just to do it, and that’s enough. Eugene encourages Popeye and Bluto to race to an island mostly to get them out of his hair for a while. It’s curious to see Eugene acting as the grown-up here, or at least the peacemaker. But it doesn’t feel out of place, at least to me. Bluto’s entrance capsizes Eugene’s pool ring; that’s enough reason for Eugene to want to quiet things down.

There’s a good bit of escalation in Bluto’s attempts at cheating. He tries drilling into Popeye’s boat; Olive Oyl uses the hole in the anchor to beat that. Bluto tries harpooning Popeye’s boat; Popeye shifts his own speed up from “some kind of cat I guess” to “spinach” and rips the muzzle off Bluto’s own gun. (I don’t quarrel with the slow speed being ‘tortoise’ and the fastest speed being ‘spinach’, but I would like the middle speed to either be ‘hare’, matching tortoise, or more clearly a cheetah or similar fast cat. I’m not sure what is meant.) Then Bluto deploys the kraken, although all we ever see is one giant tentacle. Still, good third attempt there.

Popeye pops open a can, and we get the new record for spinach-induced body horror this series as his arm turns into a kraken-y tentacle. I like that, as fun and appropriate. I can imagine people not finding this quite so merry. Popeye doesn’t fight the kraken so much as arm-wrestle it. I like this, for being silly but reasonable. I’m not reading the YouTube comments to see how many people are upset there wasn’t more punching. The kraken’s left a hole in the boat, but Olive plugs it up with the muzzle of Bluto’s harpoon gun. That’s a moment that impressed me. It gives the story that little bit extra structure, and a bit more strength.

Popeye uses his kraken-tentacle arm to propel the boat to the island. This is a great success, and builds up a tidal wave to come crashing down on the island and Eugene. And there’s another bit of good story structure: Eugene proposed this race because he’s chagrinned at getting soaked by Bluto. He ends the cartoon chagrinned at getting soaked by Popeye. It’s a good beat to close on.

My impression has been that these cartoons have been getting better. I’m curious whether this follows from the creators getting more experienced at what does and doesn’t work. Or whether there’s several writing teams and one of them better fits my tastes. Well, I like the overall direction this is going. Is there any other important measure?


And for however long I keep watching Popeye’s Island Adventures, the reviews should be here.

Popeye’s Island Adventure offers a sloppy Toast to Popeye


The sixth of the Popeye’s Island Adventures continued the experimenting with format and story structure. Does this mean I’m happy? Have you ever seen evidence that I know how to be happy? Let’s watch A Toast To Popeye.

Rube Goldberg machines are one of those things that got lodged so well in the pop culture that nobody even knows where they came from. They were comic strips, originally. At least comic panels. They’re shaggy dog stories, with a punch line of some trivial task, like the buttering of toast, done in as roundabout way as possible. Are they funny? Tastes vary. I think they do well in animation, where the camera can guide the eye. Where a long continuous shot can give the action a sense of inevitability, the way a good farce will. They do well also when the contraption has as many parts as possible, but each individual part is just enough to accomplish its task. It takes tight design. It takes sharp editing. And it takes time; the more pieces in the contraption, the better the result.

So these are all problems working against this Island Adventure. There’s still only two minutes of animation; apparently the extra ten seconds last week was a concession to the need to carry so much story. The device Olive Oyl whips up to make and butter toast isn’t a bad idea. It does have the flaw of arbitrariness in it: once the balloon’s heated up, what makes it carry the toast over to the butter knife and the conveyor belt? No particular reason, just that if it didn’t, the machine wouldn’t succeed. What causes the mechanical arms to butter and spread jam on the toast just as the toast passes, rather than a moment before or after the bread goes by? No particular reason, just that if it didn’t, the machine wouldn’t succeed. So the device is a decent idea, but it doesn’t convince me. It’s not as funny as it ought to be. It could be fixed easily; put up a couple of rails, so the balloon has a direction imposed on it, and the machine would work.

And this is reflected in the story. There’s a good enough setup here: Swee’Pea needs a snack after the popcorn’s gone, and nothing but toast will do. Why not fruits? Why not gelatin? No particular reason, just that if it would, the cartoon wouldn’t have anything to do.. Swee’Pea could want something hot, but he can’t say so. Popeye happens to see Swee’Pea’s machine in shadow at a moment she’s holding her arms up and weirdly still. Why then? No particular reason, just that if he didn’t, the cartoon wouldn’t have anything to do. The story structure is all right, but it doesn’t convince me. It’s not as funny as it ought to be.

Coincidences are fine in storytelling. They’re usually taken better if the coincidence creates a problem rather than resolves it. But this is a case where the story has finished, and then remembers that Popeye hasn’t been in the short at all and he ought to do something. If there were a few more seconds, I’d have Popeye established on his boat, doing something, early on. Then return to him finishing the task and looking back on shore as Olive Oyl is doing her fist-bumps. This is still as coincidental a reason for Popeye to look just then, but it wouldn’t be a surprise that Popeye was in the short at all. And it might look more to Popeye like Olive Oyl was fighting some kind of robot monster.

And there is very little Popeye. At about the one-minute mark I was wondering if they were doing without him altogether, and getting ready to applaud their courage. I’m sure there have been Popeye cartoons with even less Popeye in them. (Probably Wimmin Is A Myskery, which is mostly Olive Oyl’s dream about her and Popeye’s four sons, who in later cartoons would be transferred over to nephew status.) But, no; the story just needed Popeye not to be there, until he could show up and not actually help anything. (There’s also no Bluto, the first time he’s been absent from one of these shorts. But as little as Popeye has to add to the proceedings, what could Bluto offer?)

While I wasn’t convinced by the story logic, there’s still important stuff I did like here. The first is that the direction’s getting better. The editing wasn’t as jumpy as it had been, and the camera movements all have clear purposes. The swiping of the lizard’s tongue is nice and funny to watch. I found it funny to have Olive Oyl pop out of a cake, holding another cake that the lizard pops out of, holding yet another cake. The hungry lizard’s reappearance at the end is a good closing. I like Swee’Pea swatting at his sandcastle while Olive Oyl goes looking for food; it’s something to do during a slow stretch. I like the strange, bachelor-making-a-sad-dinner attempt of Olive to just put a pear on a slice of bread and serve that as food. And, really, the more I write about this the more I like the short. I just can’t help feeling there’s an arbitrariness in the machinery, and the story logic, that keeps me from being convinced.


And I’ve finally put together a tag for this series. All the stuff I’ve written about Popeye’s Island Adventures should be here.

Popeye’s Island Adventures finally has Swee’Pea in it


The still picture underneath the closing music of all the Popeye’s Island Adventures has included Swee’Pea. Through the first four of these shorts, though, he hadn’t appeared. That changes now. This week’s cartoon, episode 5, is aptly named Swee’Pea Arrives.

I don’t remember as a kid wondering where Swee’Pea came from. In the comic strip he was left on Popeye’s doorstep, and only now do I think to wonder if E C Segar might have been riffing on Gasoline Alley. If I ever have some time I’ll read the sequence and see if that’s sustainable. In the Robert Altman movie, he’s left in a deliberately swapped basket for Popeye to take. I don’t think the cartoons ever addressed the topic. Anyway, it’s all variations on a theme: Swee’Pea is a foundling, and Popeye and Olive Oyl care for him. And that’s reestablished this cartoon, with Swee’Pea dropping from a plane to arrive in Popeye and Olive Oyl’s care.

It’s after that that we get a mess. If you’re giving a character an introduction story you need them to do something relevant, fair enough. But this is … just … what? Last week’s Scramble for the Egg was a good step up. It had a clear, coherent story and I thought that signalled a step up in quality for these cartoons. This one’s disappointing.

Popeye grilling spinach-burgers is a fine idea. A hungry Bluto seeing them and wanting to swipe some is also a good idea. It risks the problem Road Runner cartoons have, though. If the villain’s motivation is that he’s hungry, well, is that really villainous? Especially when the villain succeeding would be, at most, petty theft. You can’t fault the Road Runner for refusing to be eaten. But Popeye can look like a jerk for wanting a fifth burger. Moral shading can make for good stories. It’s a lot of difficulty to put into a two-minute pantomime cartoon.

Bluto costumes himself in a haz-mat suit, spinning a tale of spinach being toxic. And Popeye falls for it, as though we lived in a world in which poorly-inspected foodstuffs could carry health hazards. That’s a good enough starting point. It just comes halfway through the cartoon’s run time. And then for some reason Swee’Pea understands the No-Blutos sign. And recognizes Bluto inside the haz-mat suit. And decides to take action. And knows the remaining spinach burger will give him the fighting prowess to do something about it. And … why? Why any of these?

The logic of the cartoon would be stronger if it hadn’t spent its time introducing Swee’Pea. At least then the only mystery would be how Swee’Pea recognized Bluto in the haz-mat suit. Maybe a scene could have given Swee’Pea the hint. … Alternatively, if Swee’Pea weren’t in this at all, but Eugene the Jeep were, then recognizing Bluto would make sense. I’m curious if this did start as a Eugene script and then get changed because Eugene’s gotten so much to do already. (This does remind me of the Robert Altman movie, and how Swee’Pea got Eugene’s part and supernatural abilities.)

But then dropping Swee’Pea would lose the first minute, which is a bunch of nice scenes of Popeye and Olive Oyl with the kid. And it has some nice bits of direction, too, including some first-person shots. And, y’know, happy people playing. The editing of the cartoon felt too tight, too fast for me. But again all the camera moves made sense, and focused on the line of action appropriately. I don’t care for the animation style where a character holds something and then there’s a fast swish to move whatever needed to be moved. But that’s my tastes rather than a moral failing of the artists.

It’s the second week in a row that Popeye doesn’t eat his spinach. And it’s, I think, the first time another character does instead. Again, I’m glad that they’re not using too rigid a plot frame here. It does make Popeye again a passive character in his own adventures, though. He’s needed to put a spinach burger on the grill, and to catch the falling Swee’Pea, and that’s it. Swee’Pea even blows Popeye’s pipe at the end.

I’ve called this a two-minute short. The first four cartoons were. But this one ran long: two minutes, ten seconds. Ten seconds might not seem like much, but it’s an appreciable fraction of the original run time. Maybe they’re pushing to see if they can do fuller-length cartoons. Maybe it reflects the needs of the storyline. There’s two plots here, adopting Swee’Pea and Bluto scheming. Maybe there aren’t ten seconds you could cut from this without leaving the cartoon completely incoherent.

There’s still no credits. But the last twenty seconds of the video are pictures of the cast, and the encouragement to subscribe to the channel. For the first time this week those last twenty seconds have some band singing. It’s not the old Popeye the Sailor Man song, but it is a pretty catchy one that circles the same idea. I don’t know why they’re using a different song either, but, nice to have.

Several YouTube commenters asked where’s Wimpy. Wimpy’s a great character, mooching with an almost fae folk-like indifference to the mortals his schemes set in motion. You could make a series just out of him. He isn’t in the still underneath the closing music here, and I haven’t seen hints he’ll be in the cast. I’m curious whether there’s any plans to use him.

Where I’m At Just This Moment


Me, thinking: “You know, there’s stuff in my life I’d change if it were possible, and there’s stuff in my life I probably could change but that I’ve found myself unwilling to make the sustained effort that would require. But on the whole, it’s pretty good, and within the reasonable bounds you might expect for someone of my age and income and happily accepted obligations I’m doing pretty well at being master of my own destiny.”

Also me: has had the incidental background music from the Hanna-Barbera Pac-Man cartoon series running in his head for 46 hours straight now. Send help. Not from the Q*Bert cartoon.