WHAT ABOUT THAD?
August 11, 2014 posted by Thad Komorowski

Fleischer Promo Art #11: “Join The Popeye Clubs!”

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

November-December 1935

We round out the last two months of 1935 with a handful of holiday themed panels. The “Popeye Club” the sailor touts was in response to the animated cartoons’ enormous popularity, and a means of cashing in on kids’ love of the character. (See the extra photos—sorry for the quality.) Save the rat, no other character was able to maintain this sort of popularity for an extended period in this era. (Flip, Oswald, and Krazy, take a hike to hell.) The ever-dying queen of the animated screen still pressed on through all of this, though.

To answer a repeated question in the comments: no, Paramount Sales News didn’t promote the Color Classics or Screen Songs like they did with Popeye or Betty. Yet. When did they start to? Check back here each week and find out.

Click each thumbnail below to enlarge

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Below: a few samples of what the Paramount salesmen were selling to the theaters at the time these promotional pieces above appeared in print.

THE SPINACH OVERTURE (released Nov. 7th 1935)

BETTY BOOP, WITH HENRY, THE FUNNIEST LIVING AMERICAN (released Dec. 22nd 1935)

6 Comments

  • Kinda sad that the “funniest living American” couldn’t save the Boop series.

  • ” Save the rat, no other character was able to maintain this sort of popularity for an extended period in this era.”

    Rat? I didn’t know one of the Van Buran rats was that popular. LOL.

  • So Popeye and Mickey both had theater-based clubs. Did any other characters have them, even briefly?

    Does the Paramount promotional material ever reference the newspaper strip, or do they treat Popeye as purely an animated character?

    Flipping through the reprint books, it looks like Segar ignored the animated version, not even giving the now-famous Bluto a return appearance. Meanwhile, the Fleischers almost never went back to the original strips, except for a few infrequently-used characters. It wasn’t as drastic a disconnect as the Herriman and Columbia Krazy Kats, but the separation is still interesting.

    • Yes, several characters did have clubs. David Gerstein tells me there was a Bosko club as late as 1940 (surely run by Hugh Harman himself…).

      As far as Paramount Sales News acknowledging the Segar strip, take a look at post #3 back in June.

      With regards to the other Segar characters, Paramount had to pay King Features a fee for each character it used from the strip, hence so few in the animated cartoons.

    • Thad:
      Never heard about King Features charging for characters; that explains a lot.

      Also summons up amusing images of story men trying to convince managers of the need for Goons in Goonland, and lawyers negotiating whether Goons should be charged as one or several characters.

    • Actually, there is one story line from 1937 or so in which Segar references the “I’m Popeye The Sailor Man” something like three times, with Popeye’s pipe answering “peep-peep”. (There’s one variant in which Popeye sings “I yam Popeye the Sailorrrrr” as well.) Whether this was Segar’s own doing or whether King Features asked him to plant references to the Fleischer cartoons in his strip, I don’t think anyone will ever know.

      Fantagraphics has a picture in their Flickr stream of the final volume of their latest reprint series, open to a page that has a drawing Segar did to commemorate “Popeye The Sailor Meets Sindbad The Sailor”. The image itself isn’t terribly clear, but Bluto in Sinbad costume can still be made out: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fantagraphics/7105218141/

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