Popeye first appeared in a comic strip on 17 January 1929. That is, 90 years ago. E.C. Segar created the cartoon figure in a cartoon strip ‘Thimble Theatre’, renamed ‘Popeye’. In fact, the cartoon strip became so popular that in 1933 it became the subject of a series of cartoons. The title changed to ‘Popeye the Sailor’. Subsequently, he appeared in comic books, and in television cartoons and those animated by Fleischer for the cinema.
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Popeye and spinach
Popeye now also appears in videogames and advertisements. In particular, he was shown as becoming so strong due to his consumption of spinach. Indeed, his popularity helped boost spinach sales. In 1980 he became the main character in a film directed by Robert Altman. The actor Robin Williams played the title role. In addition, in 2002 the TV Guide classified him 20th in its list of ’50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time.’ Not only, in 1995 he appeared on a series of commemorative US postage stamps.
His long-time girlfriend Olive Oyl also appeared with him in many of Segar’s cartoons. As a matter of fact, she made her first appearance in comic strips by Segar in 1919. That is, ten years before Popeye’s debut in 1929, but then the two characters were linked. Furthermore, many of her relatives were named after different oils. For example, her brother was Castor Oyl. In the cartoons she helps take care of a baby named Swee’Pea. It is never made clear, however, whether the baby is her adopted or biological son. Moreover, like Popeye, sometimes Olive gains superhuman strength from eating spinach.
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