Paramount’s Famous Studios in 1943 was a studio in transition. Paramount ousted the Fleischer brothers and began moving the operation back to New York. Popeye was the prize. The series was so popular, Paramount decided it could make more money with the property without the middlemen (the Fleischers). With the war at its height, and it’s cartoon superstar a natural military man – the series couldn’t be more successful.
Heritage Galleries is currently offering these rare 1943 publicity stills for sale. The bidding is already way over $100., too rich for my blood, so a grabbed the images off their site and hence this post. You’ll note in the fine print that these photographs are to publicize the 1943-44 season when the Popeye cartoons went from black and white to color.
The images themselves were created in black & white and colorized (a common practice for publicity art back then), and look in line with the Dan Gordon designs in his black and white propaganda cartoons like You’re A Sap Mr. Jap and Seein’ Red White and Blue (see below). Odd that in two of these publicity shots, it was decided the gag was more important that seeing Popeye’s face. The hand-written numbers on the lower corners indicate that these are three pictures from a set of five. Would love to see the other two (UPDATE: I found printed images of the other two in my files. See the comments below) . Click the images below to enlarge.
Below is a great 1943 Popeye, directed by Dan Gordon. Gordon was briefly a partner in Famous Studios, but left to pursue much work in comic books – and later became a valued member of Hanna Barbera’s staff when they started doing television cartoons. This cartoon features some great animation by Jim Tyer. Check out the scene from 5:23 to 5:43.
A 1943 stock one sheet for Paramount’s Popeye cartoons: