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Popeye the sailor man is a cartoon figure and comic strip created by Elzie Crisler Segar[?] in 1929 and syndicated by the Hearst newspaper's King Features syndicate[?]. He is a sailor who, when in trouble, eats spinach that gives him superhuman strength, usually to save his sweetheart Olive Oyl from his nemesis Bluto/Brutus.

Popeye originally appeared as a minor character in Segar's newspaper cartoon strip Thimble Theater[?], which had been running for years with protagonists Olive Oyl and her brother Castor Oyl. The Popeye character became so popular that he was given a larger and larger part in the strip, then the strip was renamed after him.

Segar's strip was surrealistic. The compilation volumes show how different it was from the later strips (and the TV show).

After Segar's death in 1938, many different artists were hired to draw the strip, some more popular than others.

Popeye was turned into an animated cartoon character. The long running series was started by Max Fleischer Studios started in 1933 (with a Betty Boop cartoon named Popeye the Sailor) and continued by Paramount Studios. Over 600 cartoons were produced in the next four decades. In the cartoons, his nemesis was sometimes named Bluto and other times Brutus; no explanation is apparent in the cartoons for these vagaries (the results of a copyright dispute over the character's name) .

A Popeye TV cartoon was made in the USA during the 1960s. The characters were substantially simplified (as is all too common in TV cartooning) and altered further from Segar's original designs.

Robert Altman used the character in a 1980 feature film starring Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall[?]. It was mainly influenced by the cartoon, but drew on some of the style of the original strips.

The reference to spinach comes from the publication of a study that, because of a misprint, gave spinach ten times its iron content. Another regular character in the strip was Wimpy, who, despite the name, may have played a significant role in popularizing the hamburger in the United States. The Wimpy chain of hamburger restaurants was not the first (White Castle[?] is generally recognized as that), but was the first to go overseas.

Characters in Popeye

  • Popeye the Sailor Man
  • Olive Oyl (sic)
  • Bluto or Brutus (after the classical Brutus)
  • Wimpy
  • Sweet Pea (Popeye and Olive's baby son)
  • Pappy
  • Eugene the Jeep
  • Goons


  • "I yam what I yam and that's all I yam," Popeye
  • "That's all I can stand I can't stands no more," Popeye
  • "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today," Wimpy

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