Q: With over 500 Popeye cartoons produced why did you write a book on this particular series of 220 from 1960-62?
A: This series of cartoons has been maligned over the years by critics. In some episodes rightly so but certainly not the entire bunch. King Features Syndicate, Popeye’s copyright owner, wanted these films produced quickly. This was done to cash in on the popularity the sailor’s theatrical films were having on Television.
Q: Why are some cartoons in this series better than others?
A: It mainly had to do with the experience people had working with limited animation. For example, the cartoons under Jack Kinney’s supervision, had ex-Disney personnel working on them. Talented as they were with theatrical cartoons this same talent wasn’t evident with television cartoons.
Q: Did you notice the poor animation watching these as a child?
A: Goodness no. It was just more Popeye. I recall watching specific scenes as a child and not noticing the goofs. Now, as a seventeen year old it was different story. Frankly I was horrified!
Q: What is an example of a goof which stands out in your mind?
A: Popeye and the Giant, directed by ex-Disney veteran Hugh Fraser, stands out. The characters mouths don’t move as much as the heads bob back and forth. The cartoon uses too much stock footage from previous Jack Kinney Popeye cartoons. Brutus is standing one moment then laughing at the window in the next shot. Junk, pure junk.
Q: Which studios, who worked on these cartoons, do you recommend watching out for quality films?
A: Paramount Cartoon Studios, directed by Seymour Kneitel. Paramount’s staff worked on the theatrical Popeyes and therefore had more experience. The films which were animated by Halas & Batchelor, Gene Deitch’s have some episodes with simple animation but for the most part there, enjoyable. It’s a shame Gerald Ray’s unit didn’t more than ten episodes as they’re delightful.
Q: These are the cartoons which gave us Brutus, why didn’t they continue using Bluto?
A: Ah, one of the most often asked questions. Bluto was originally created for the comic strip in 1932. When King Features wanted to produce the television cartoons Paramount Pictures believed they created Bluto for the theatrical films. Although Paramount was incorrect his name was changed to Brutus along with a slightly altered physical appearance.
Q: What Popeye characters can we see in these cartoons but not the ones created for the theatre?
A: Since these cartoons were handled by King Features Syndicate who distributed the sailor’s comic strip many made their animation debut. These included, Alice the Goon, Rough House, Toar, Geezil, The Wiffle Bird, King Blozo, The Sea Hag and her evil vulture. Eugene the Jeep, who appeared in three theatrical cartoons, was utilized much more.
Q: Any original characters created for these television cartoons?
A: Olive Oyl’s bratty niece, Deezil and Roger the taking dog. Deezil was in three cartoons and in her first she beats the tar out of poor ol’ Popeye. Roger is in two and befriends the sailor and his girlfriend.
Q: Despite the quality of some of the episodes did these have any advantage over the theatrical films?
A: Yes, they were all in color while many of the theatricals are in black and white. Stations having color product to air during the 1960’s was a big, big deal.
Q: Was the series a ratings and financial success?
A: Yes, to both. These cartoons, whether aired with the theatricals or own their own, scored big ratings! They also made millions of dollars for all involved. They were aired on local stations well into the mid 1990’s.
Today they are aired internationally and all 220 are on Popeye’s official You Tube page.