Popeye is back with a new animated series, available to watch right now on YouTube. The iconic sailor man was the brainchild of E. C. Segar, making his debut as a comic strip in the New York Journal-American in 1929. Since then, Popeye has appeared in a variety of other media, encompassing the worlds of animation, cinema and video games. A modern movie interpretation is reportedly still in production at Sony Pictures, having been announced back in 2010.
Popeye's longevity has perhaps been partly due to the franchise's ability to evolve with the times and explore other avenues of distribution in order to reach new audiences and, in the current market, online streaming is showing the most significant growth. Netflix and Amazon are racing to produce more and more original content, Warner Bros. and Disney have set up their own in-house services and YouTube have also been busy of late, expanding their catalogue of Hollywood movies and offering an increasing amount of original series.
Now, to celebrate Popeye's 90th anniversary, King Features have announced that the spinach-hungry hero is starring in a brand new series of animated shorts called Popeye's Island Adventures, currently streaming on the official Popeye & Friends YouTube channel. Intended to draw in a new generation of younger viewers to the franchise, Popeye's Island Adventures still features the familiar "squash and stretch" animation style the character is so fondly remembered for but has been updated in other areas for a more modern approach.
Popeye now grows his own spinach and Olive Oyl is said to be "a shining example of feministic ideals that fans new and old will want to emulate... Olive is now a strong, independent, and resourceful woman." For similar reasons, the villainous Bluto will now be intent on stealing Popeye's strength-enhancing spinach, rather than his girlfriend, and the first episode replaces Popeye's pipe with a whistle.
Popeye's Island Adventures is certainly a fantastic way of introducing the current generation of youngsters to these iconic characters. The enduring appeal of Popeye and the amount of merchandise featuring his image still being sold proves that there remains an audience out there for the character but, as popular as the franchise's previous cartoons and movies have been, some elements of the story haven't aged well in today's climate of gender equality. This new series appears to address those issues while still remaining true to the core of what Popeye was originally all about.
Judging from the first episode however, it's fairly clear that Popeye's Island Adventures is very much aimed at a new audience. There isn't much nostalgia value to be gained for fans of the classic cartoons, as highlighted on numerous occasions in the video's comments section, with the lack of dialogue and toned down action very much catering for the younger demographic. For kids unfamiliar with Popeye's history however, this new series of short cartoons could be the perfect introduction to an iconic character.
Popeye's Island Adventures is streaming now on YouTube.
Source: Hearst Entertainment