Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by Steve Bennett on December 5, 2018 @ 11:51 pm CT
Back in May (see “Confessions of a Comic Book Guy - This Week In Toons”) I wrote how King Features Syndicate would be streaming “new animated content” for the Popeye and Friends Official YouTube channel (see “Stock Up on Spinach – Popeye Is Back”). This is apparently becoming the thing to do with classic intellectual properties as they recently announced the same sort of thing for another long-absent character, Woody Woodpecker (see “Woody Woodpecker Returns”).
Well, that content dropped (or whatever it is that content does) over the weekend as I read the New York Times piece New Popeye Videos Show What 90 Years of Spinach Can Do for a Guy. The first short is up and as the piece puts it, “Popeye is a more youthful fellow and a clean-shaven Bluto is more interested in stealing Popeye’s spinach than he is the heart of Olive Oyl.” The Sailor is now also an environmentally conscious fellow who “collects rainwater and grows his own spinach” and so far has shown no interest in engaging in fisticuffs.
According to a tweet from the official Popeye Twitter account, the Popeye Island Adventures series is intended to “introduce Popeye to today’s children” and “is catered to a 2+ age demographics.” And having seen the first short I can verify it’s not likely to be enjoyed by anyone older than that. For those that know who the character is, there's an online revival of the comic strip under the name “Popeye’s Cartoon Club.” If that sounds familiar, it was also the name of a How-To-Draw Popeye feature that ran in the Sunday strips during the 1930s. Each week it will be drawn by a different artist and those announced so far include Alex Hallett, Erica Henderson, Roger Langridge, and Jeffrey Brown.
Previously (see “Confessions of a Comic Book Guy - He’s Back”) I wrote about how the DuckTales episode, “The Hidden Depths of Cousin Fethry!” gave us a look at Fethry, a Disney character popular in Europe but essentially unknown in America. There are other duck characters like that, like John D. Rockerduck, a rival billionaire, created by Carl Barks but used only once, who became a regular opponent of Scrooge overseas (like Fethry, he’ll also appear in an upcoming episode of DuckTales).
Just as you wouldn’t expect to see an actual human in Duckburg, you also wouldn’t expect something as indigenously American as the “hillbilly” to do well internationally. But apparently, Urtigão is quite popular in both Italy and Brazil. I have no evidence, but I’m going to ahead and assume the Beverly Hillbillies TV show had something to do with familiarizing foreign audiences with the concept. I’d also like to say that the feuding “hillbilly” is a hurtful outdated stereotype that’s no longer in use, but the truth is it still occasionally pops up in American cartoons (like Fuzzy Lumpkins in The Powerpuff Girls and Old Man McGucket in Gravity Falls).
Turma da Monica Meets the Justice League in Brazil. In Brazil, the Panini Group publishes both the Monica comics and the Portuguese editions of DC Comics. And this month the characters from Monica Teen and Monica’s Gang (a version of the characters as little kids) will be crossing over with DC’s Justice League.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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