Bluto and Olive: The Most Unlikely Hero and Heroine Characters
The year 2012 happens to be the diamond jubilee year of the character Popeye and the comic strip called Popeye the sailor man. The comic strip was created by E. C. Segar, and surprisingly, the strip was running for 10 years when Popeye made his entry in it in January 1929. Before this, it was Olive Oyl and his family which was the central character in the strip. Ham Gravy, a man who seemed to be lazy doing as little work as possible, was more or less the fiancé of Olive and the family included Olive’s brother castor Oyl and her father.
It was by an accident that Popeye made his appearance in the comic strip. Ham Gravy and Olive were looking for crew for a ship that they wanted to take on a cruise to rob a casino when they saw Popeye and hired him as a sailor for the cruise. Now Popeye was shown as a short and stout balding man who was toothless always having a pipe in his mouth. Popeye was illiterate and a frustrated man always muttering something to him. In short, Popeye was the most unlikely hero of a comic strip in a time when heroes were smart and beautiful (they still are). At first, Olive is sent treating him as nothing more than a servant (she even calls him a bulging rat). She was also engaged with Ham Gravy at that time.
If Popeye doesn’t look like a hero, Olive herself looks nothing more than a caricature of a girl being tall as a bamboo and as thin as a paper. She is a gullible person who often shouts at Popeye. However, in future, Olive is shown falling to the charms of Popeye and doing as he wants her to do. A very unlikely pair of hero and heroine indeed!
What happened afterwards is also very interesting. The creator had no intention of continuing with Popeye, but when he disappeared from the series, angry readers protested and Segar had to bow down to their demands and bring back Popeye in the series, in fact, so loved was Popeye by the readers that Popeye was made the central character of the series and the series itself changed from being called Thimble Theater to Popeye the sailor man in honor of Popeye.
Popeye has a friend cum adversary in the shape of Bluto, another sailor who is twice his size and also stronger than Popeye. Olive often gets impressed by the antics of Bluto and he is seen trying to kidnap her. Popeye is shown trying to save her but in vain as Bluto beats him badly. It is only when Popeye takes out a can of spinach and consumes the contents that he gets super strength and muscle power to manage to beat Bluto and save Olive.
The series often shows a small baby who looks like Popeye. He is called Sweat Pea and many take him to be a son of Popeye and Olive though he is an orphan Popeye found on his doorsteps.
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