Thursday, April 25, 2013

I Yam What I Yam, an’ I Ain’t Finishked Yet!

Yes, I am pleased to report that Popeye the Sailor Man on DVD is indeed not “finishked” yet! 

But first, to set the stage, HERE’S a post on Popeye’s glory days on Warner DVD… and HERE’S another! 
Them's were th' days, all right!

After a FIVE YEAR hiatus (!), not unlike a similar such gap for ANIMANIACS, Warner Home Video is returning POPEYE THE SAILOR to DVD!  …With some key differences, though. 

ANIMANIACS Volume Four was a standard WHV release, while Popeye will continue via the Warner Archive Collection. 
We're Aaa-ni-maaiin-nee-acks... and we're "standard" to the max...
And, while ANIMANIACS picked up exactly where the previous releases left off (to complete the series),  POPEYE will skip ahead nearly two decades – bypassing the Famous Studios / Paramount color cartoons of the ‘40s and ‘50s, to present the Paramount produced Popeye cartoons that were made for TV in the early 1960s.  Read about this HERE! 

Now, I’m not exactly disappointed at the news… Sure, I’d have preferred a “general release” over one from Warner Archives, for all the reasons cited in my standard WARNER ARCHIVE COLLECTION link.  It would also indicate some more confidence in POPEYE as a property than a WAC release does. 

Also, the ‘60s Popeye cartoons were not as numbingly repetitive as the Paramount theatricals became – with some of them actually adhering more closely to the work of the Sailor Man’s creator E.C. Segar and subsequent comics, than anything Paramount released in the ‘50s.  Sure, the animation was “down a bit” (I’d go as far as “down a lot”), but certain other virtues helped make up for that. 

Did Popeye get back to some basics in the '60s? Just ask The Sea Hag!
I have seen very few of these Popeye cartoons since their original run in the ‘60s – and I’m looking forward to seeing how they stack up to my youthful memories.  …And, I think it’s a safe bet that we’ll have a post discussing exactly that!    

And, maybe I'll be there, too!


scarecrow33 said...

Popeye is not as relentlessly loveable as Yogi Bear, or as resourceful and daring as Mickey Mouse, and he tends to settle things with his "fisks" which makes him less than a stellar role model, and yet he has a definite whimsical appeal. He is kindly, considerate of others, and highly moral--except for now and then when he bashes someone's head in, usually Bluto's. Even though he is a sailor, many of his adventures take place on dry land--which used to perplex me as a youngster. He has a highly unusual and diverse cast of supporting characters--Olive Oyl, Wimpy, Bluto/Brutus, the Sea Hag, Swee'Pea, the Jeep, Poopdeck Pappy, Professor Wottasnozzle...the list goes on. He also has one of the most catchy and memorable theme songs of any cartoon character.

I, too, am disappointed not to get a full set of the Famous Studios run of Popeyes. Many of these have been available in various "public domain-type" DVDs for a few years, often with the wrong music attached to the opening credits, and the ones that have been available in this format are not necessarily of the best. Still, they are at least a sample of what exists.

I have very good and positive memories of the King Features Popeye cartoons, which were my introduction to Popeye many years ago. I grew up thinking of "Bluto" as "Brutus" since that was his name in these later cartoons. I now wonder if perhaps the name change might have been due to pressure from Disney, as "Bluto" does sound an awful lot like "Pluto." Anyway, he made quite a good villain and rival for Popeye under whatever name he went by. And these cartoons also, as I recall, featured the Sea Hag quite prominently, although she was drawn more like a conventional witch than in her comic book appearances.

I look forward to this release, and hope to relive some good memories. If I recall correctly, these cartoons were available a few years ago on a DVD set which is now presumably out of print. I just couldn't spare the cash for the set at that time.

Even though they're not the Famous cartoons, at least they have some redeeming features, such as restoring the classic cast of characters to the Popeye scenarios. Another Popeye series that I really enjoyed was "Popeye and Son" which aired back in the early '90's and which featured Popeye and Olive Oyl as a married couple with a teenaged son named Junior--who hated spinach, but reluctantly would eat the stuff when his father needed help. Maybe a full set of "Popeye and Son" might be forthcoming soon? As well as the complete run of the Famous cartoons? Oh, well, I can dream...

Joe Torcivia said...

That’s a great description of Popeye, Scarecrow!

The “Bluto / Brutus thing” was, I believe, some sort of mix-up between King Features and Paramount as to the ownership of the name “Bluto”. King mistakenly believed that Paramount owned the name “Bluto” as a creation of the cartoons, while it was actually created by E.C. Segar. Others may tell it better or in more detail, than I can. Back in the early ‘60s, as a kid, I sure never knew why the name changed That might also account for why he was not named “Bluto” in the Dell comic books, licensed by Western Publishing from King Features.

I have a PD DVD set of Popeye that contains some of the Paramounts. Not nearly enough, but I do have the last one, “Spooky Swabs”. They were sure breaking with the formula by that time! I was really looking forward to seeing the Paramounts in superior quality. And, I’d like to think that support for this set, could lead to Warner releasing those as well. I also missed out on the ‘60s Popeye DVD collection, and don’t feel like paying high secondary market prices for it, so I’m glad we’re getting this set as a starter.

Hopefully, one day, we’ll have it all – including Huckleberry Hound – just in time for DVD to vanish as a format! Though that was the cynic in me popping-out for a brief remark, I must say that what we HAVE gotten thus far (in the nine years I’ve collected DVDs) is remarkable – and inconceivable when the format began gaining popularity!

Finally, a personal note about The Sea Hag…

I had a fair number of Dell Popeye comics dating back to 1959, when my grandmother would buy them for me. The comic book’s writer/artist Bud Sagendorf had often used The Sea Hag in those comics (in the tradition of the original Segar newspaper strip continuities) – but just not in the ones I happened to get. So, I never had a comic book with The Sea Hag in it until AFTER she appeared in the King Features TV shorts – and I thought that the COMICS had begun following the lead of the TV cartoons, for which she’d surely been created! How excitingly progressive of the comics, thought I.

Perspective, with no reference books and Internet to shape it, is a funny thing! How did we ever survive it?!

Debbie said...

Popeye is one of those strange characters who never seems to fully go away, despite long gaps in his re-appearances. IDW seems to have started the new wave of Popeye nostalgia with their 12 issue series of new material and the Yoe Books Bud Sagendorf reprints which seem to be continuing.
I have the 75th Anniversary set with the KFS TV shorts. I bought it when it first came out, sold it when I needed to raise money and luckily found it at a reasonable price at a record store that sells new and used DVDs and CDs (although it is missing the booklet listing the shorts). They are a very hit-and-miss series, yet I think I've watched them more than the public domain Famous shorts. There is more variety in the TV material, and the talky nature of 1960's TV animation means that we get to hear more of Jack Mercer's famous Popeye voice than we did in the Famous shorts. Seeing the Jeep, the Sea Hag, Wimpy, Geezil, King Blozo and Roughhouse also is a treat, even if they aren't always in character. That said, the worst of these (usually the Jack Kinney shorts) can really be a chore to sit through, with their poor stories and slow timing.

Joe Torcivia said...

That may be an accurate assessment of the ‘60s Popeye shorts, Debbie. At least from my decades-old memories and from the very few of them I’ve seen online in recent years. Wasn’t O. G. Wattasnozzle something of an evil rocket scientist, when he’s really more of a bombastic version of Gyro Gearloose?

Even as a kid, I “knew” these were made for TV (…or, more accurately) “made differently” than the Popeye cartoons that preceded them. Then again, I thought the same thing of the Rudy Larriva Road Runners, vs. the Chuck Jones ones. They were “all good”. Some were just better than others.

What I liked was that these shorts, to whatever extent they did, reflected the comics that I was reading, and most of the older cartoons did not. I expect that will still be their primary attraction when I see them again.

I’m glad that Popeye “never seems to fully go away” and I will miss the new IDW comics, now that they’ve completed. Anyone who passed them up should track them down! I’ve always liked the Sagendorf comics, but I have the originals – so, I may or may not continue those, without the new stuff.