Popeye Characters: Who’s Who
We are pleased to introduce Team Popeye
The iconic Popeye the Sailor Man cartoon is one of those shows that bring back nostalgic memories from your childhood or teenage years. It brings you back to that period in time wherein your biggest problem was your math homework or if your crush noticed you that day. It also brings you back to those days where it is still safe to go to the park down the block by yourself and the internet was basically non-existent. Children back then got down and dirty playing jump rope, jungle gym, soccer and Frisbee.
More than that, the lovable Popeye characters are as real as they go. Olive Oyl is not a perfect size 6 and Popeye or Bluto aren’t what teenagers would refer to as hot. The characters represent real individuals with real physical insecurities that people can relate to. This is part of the charm that got a lot of people hooked on the Popeye cartoon.
Do you still remember the names of those lovable Popeye characters?
What good is a Popeye cartoon without Popeye? He first appears on January 17, 1929 on the Thimble Theatre. He is the son of Poopdeck Pappy and Olive Oyl’s one-eyed quarrelsome boyfriend. Moreover, it has been inferred in the comic strip that Popeye is Sweet Pea’s adoptive father however; it was implied on the animated feature that he is Olive Oyl’s relative.
He is gifted with a soft heart and acts with kindness and honesty however; he is also been known to get into occasional fights and rifts with rival, Bluto, among others. His partiality to spinach is also something that is often associated with Popeye the Sailor Man. This is why it had been noted that during the first decade of the comic, fresh produce merchants have recorded a significant increase of spinach sales.
What is a hero without his inspiration? In Popeye’s case, it is none other than the awkward but lovable Olive Oyl. However, Elzie Crisler Segar created the character Olive Oyl in 1919, which is a whole decade earlier than Popeye the Sailor Man!
Prior to Popeye’s creation, Olive Oyl was exclusive dating Harold Hamgravy and remained faithful despite his womanizing ways. This heroine is definitely different from the typical damsel in distress stereotype because she seems clueless about what’s fashionable and wears her hair in a tight bun. Moreover, she also has Bluto vying for her affection and attention and he would kidnap her often because of this.
A worthy protagonist would most definitely need an antagonist and there is no one more iconic than Bluto or Brutus. He is sometimes portrayed as a friend or business partner of Popeye but often times, they would often compete for the attention of Olive Oyl. Bluto is your stereotypical villain with his unshaven look and muscular built.
He was eventually renamed Brutus around 1957 by King Features after the Fleischer Studios stopped producing the animated Popeye cartoon because of copyright issues. King Features incorrectly assumed that Fleischer Studio owns the copyright on the name Bluto but actually own the rights to the name all along. The name was reverted back to Bluto from Brutus in 1978 in the Hanna-Barbera Popeye cartoon series.
Let us not forget the ever lovable Sweet Pea or Swee’ Pea! He first appeared on July 28, 1933 and initially Popeye would call the baby by Swee’ Pea which was thought to be as a term of endearment since Popeye would often call Olive Oyl by the same name.
In the comic strip, Sweet Pea was left on Popeye’s doorstep and has since adopted and raised him as his own. Moreover, in the August 17, 1933 strip, Popeye even christened him as Scooner Seawell Georgia Washengting Christiffer Columbia Daniel Boom. It’s a mouthful right? Well, the nickname Swee’ Pea still remained although he would be occasionally called by Popeye as Scooner in the more recent comic strips.
However, in the animated Popeye cartoon, Sweet Pea was shown to be a ward of Olive Oyl although the exact relation was up in the air. The animated cartoon showed Olive Oyl finding the baby on her doorstep where Popeye also rents. Sweet Pea has a rather complicated backstory that includes an evil uncle who wanted him dead and a desperate mother who wanted Popeye to protect the young one.
It won’t be the same without the lovable relatives like Castor Oyl who is Olive Oyl’s older brother and Poopdeck Pappy who is Popeye’s 99-year old father although his age was reduced to eighty-five in the comic strip. Prior to the creation of Popeye, Castor Oyl was the central character in Elzie Crisler Segar’s Thimble Theatre for ten years. He personified the adage, small but terrible, because he is a witty and successful businessman despite his stature.
Poopdeck Pappy was later introduced in the strip after an apparently long search with the help of Eugene the Jeep in 1936. He bears a striking physical resemblance to Popeye although much less righteous. He has already been known to steal money from Popeye among his callous acts.
Eugene the Jeep is an enigmatic animal that possess supernatural abilities. Professor Brainstine defines the jeep as an animal who lives in a three dimensional world but actually belongs in a fourth dimensional world. Eugene the Jeep was a gift to Popeye from Olive Oyl’s uncle who lives in Africa.
How can we forget the hamburger loving J Wellington Wimpy? He is well educated and soft-spoken but awfully selfish and mean since he only thinks about how he can score a free sandwich. He has quite a few catchphrases to depict financial irresponsibility that has made a mark well into modern mainstream culture like, “Cook me up a hamburger. I’ll pay you Thursday.” or “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
Don’t you think that reading about these Popeye characters makes you what to pop in an old episode? This year is as good as any especially since 2012 marks their diamond jubilee anniversary. Hurray for 60 wonderful years of Popeye and his friends!
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