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Introduction to this website

by "Salty" Steve Bailey

I am not and will never claim to be a Popeye "scholar". Said history has been chronicled already at sources far superior to mine. If you would like some instant context for the reviews posted here, I heartily recommend you to the Fleischer Popeye Tribute website, which covers said history about as lovingly as you could ask for.

I confess that I am quite late to the game as far as Popeye worship is concerned. I did not grow up in an area that had a local kiddie show that showed Popeye cartoons, so I only infrequently caught their broadcasts. Those that I saw seemed pretty formulaic: Olive Oyl gets all snooty with Popeye until Bluto tries to have his way with her, whereupon Olive screams and Popeye downs some spinach and punches Bluto's lights out.

I was never even vaguely interested in Popeye cartoons until I had a son who watched Cartoon Network's broadcasts of the black-and-white cartoons in the late 1990's. Occasionally I'd glance at them, and soon I realized I might have been missing out on something good.

So when Warner Home Video released a DVD set of the first five years of Max and Dave Fleischer's Popeye cartoons in the summer of 2007, I snapped it right up. I rarely buy movie DVDs sight-unseen these days, but intuition told me I wouldn't be disappointed. And that turned out to be an understatement.

I now know that these early gems are the ones that really cemented Popeye's reputation. The charming stories and wonderfully thought-out gags, not to mention the then-routine animation that nowadays looks like works of art, are no doubt what extended goodwill towards the Popeye concept well after its heyday, into the more routine theatrical cartoons of the 1950's and the downright abysmal, limited-animation versions on 1960's TV. It's even more astounding when you realize that the Fleischers ground out these little gems once a month.

So this website is both my tribute to these sumptuous cartoons, and my little way of associating myself, however distantly, with their legend. I just love them and want to share the word with others.

For those cartoons I have viewed (as of this writing, Volume 2 of the DVD set has not yet been released), I have reviewed them individually and have given each cartoon a rating of one to four "spinach cans" (i.e., stars). Each cartoon really should get four stars just for its very existence, but unfortunately some are a tad better than others. But, as critic Manny Farber once said about the Looney Tunes cartoons, the good Popeye cartoons are masterpieces and even the bad ones are worth a look. So I hope my reviews will give you reason to check them all out.

I welcome any input, positive or otherwise, so feel free to E-mail me at the link listed at the top of this page. Hope you enjoy the site! --Salty Steve


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