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King Features Celebrates Popeye’s 90th Anniversary with New Digital Series

New ‘Popeye’s Island Adventures’ series on the Popeye and Friends Official YouTube Channel will introduce the classic character to younger audiences.

In Popeye’s Island Adventures, the new Popeye “has a youthful appearance and more eco-friendly position, growing spinach on the roof of his diesel-punk style houseboat and collecting rainwater in barrels. Olive Oyl, the original damsel in distress, is now a shining example of feministic ideals that fans new and old will want to emulate.”

NEW YORK -- To kick off Popeye’s 90th anniversary celebration in 2019, King Features Syndicate has announced the debut of Popeye’s Island Adventures. The original animated short series will introduce comic icon Popeye and his friends to today’s digitally native children on the Popeye and Friends Official YouTube Channel.

Originally appearing in 1929, E.C. Segar’s Popeye character first debuted in “The Thimble Theatre” comic strip in the New York Journal-American, which was at that time owned by Hearst Founder William Randolph Hearst. The much-loved character developed alongside his cast of friends before making his film debut in 1933 and television debut in 1960. For nearly 90 years, the Popeye character has resonated in print and on screen for audiences of all ages.

Developed with children in mind, Popeye’s Island Adventures introduces the spinach-loving sailor man to the younger generation by combining the original squash and stretch animation style with a fresh update on the original characters and storyline. The new Popeye has a youthful appearance and more eco-friendly position, growing spinach on the roof of his diesel-punk style houseboat and collecting rainwater in barrels. Olive Oyl, the original damsel in distress, is now a shining example of feministic ideals that fans new and old will want to emulate. No longer sitting on the sidelines, Olive is now a strong, independent, and resourceful woman who is at the center of every adventure. Bluto remains the series’ antagonist, but his motives have changed as he pursues Popeye’s spinach in a quest for strength. The new Popeye project will complement the sailor man’s growing online presence; the character currently has close to 10 million followers on Facebook.

“We are thrilled to be bringing Popeye to YouTube and a new generation of kids,” Hearst President and CEO Steven R. Swartz commented in making the announcement.

“It is fitting that Popeye, one of King Features’ original animated characters, is the first of our brands to be reintroduced through short-form video content created specifically for the YouTube audience,” said Hearst Entertainment & Syndication President Neeraj Khemlani. “King Features has a deep library of IP -- from Flash Gordon, Mandrake and The Phantom to partner properties like Blondie, Hagar the Horrible and Beetle Bailey -- and Popeye is taking the lead with the development of new entertainment, merchandising and e-commerce to serve a new generation of fans.”

The debut of Popeye’s Island Adventures will kick off an anniversary celebration that includes the return of “Popeye’s Cartoon Club” as an homage to the fan art that E.C. Segar often shared at the end of “The Thimble Theatre” comic strip. The campaign invites top cartoonists from around the world to contribute their own Popeye comics. King is also ready to unveil merchandise from more than a dozen new partners from around the world to elevate the iconic sailor at retail in the coming months.

“Popeye is an iconic pop culture character and the responsibility to serve his fanbase while introducing him to a new audience of multiple generations is enormous,” President of King Features Syndicate C.J. Kettler said. “The Popeye 90th Anniversary celebration will include not only the short form animation on YouTube but a relaunch of E.C. Segar’s Popeye Cartoon Club in print, digital and social media featuring some of the most notable talent in cartooning and illustration as well as key partnerships for streetwear apparel and trendsetting collaborations. We look forward to further developing Popeye with additional retail partners, licensees, and longer form storytelling in the future.”

WildBrain was contracted for worldwide management of the Popeye and Friends Official YouTube Channel in May and has since produced new compilations of cartoon favorites including “Classic Popeye,” “Popeye and Son” and “The Continuing Adventures of Popeye” as part of an ongoing strategy to grow the sailor man’s global audience across the platform.

Fans can start watching “Popeye’s Island Adventures” today at the Popeye and Friends Official YouTube Channel and can check out the recently launched website for the latest updates on Popeye’s 90th Anniversary Celebration. Popeye.com also features an interactive timeline charting his history and a photo filter feature that allows fans to brand and share their Popeye-inspired strong to the finish moments.

Source: King Features Syndicate

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.

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