Animation History
May 6, 2013 posted by

Popeye in “Stealin’ Ain’t Honest”


Released March 22nd 1940, Stealin’ Ain’t Honest is the 79th Fleischer Studios Popeye cartoon. Produced in Miami Florida, by the Tom Johnson unit, it’s one of the cartoons that pursues the adventure feel of the comic strip – or the two-reelers.

Below is one of those storyboards (or beat sheets or “director’s rough layout”) which allows us to see the process – and identifies the animators of each scene. Frank Endres, Hal Walker, Abner Kneitel, Jake (Jack Ozark), and Graham Place do the animation. Margie Hines voices Olive Oyl, and writer Tedd Pierce fills in as Bluto. Jack Mercer, of course, is Popeye and its interesting to compare the dialogue scripted below with the ad libs in the finished film. (click on thumbnails below to enlarge – and follow along with the cartoon embed below that):

popeye1 popeye2 popeye3 popeye4
popeye5 popeye6 popeye7 popeye8
popeye9popeye11 popeye10 popeye12


  • That’s one cartoon I always liked. It was a refreshing change-of-pace I feel.

  • Talk about a “spoiler alert”-the closing gag right on the poster!

  • This was great. Thanks for sharing! I always love to see the storyboards and other production materials to understand how the animated process comes together. Inspiring stuff.

  • Kind of a throwback. I’m not that familiar with this one, even though I have all three Fleicher Popeye sets.

  • The Johnson unit was really the ones responsible for turning Bluto from the gruff, menacing presence he was in the Fleischer studio’s New York period into more of a comic villain. That started with the very first Popeye cartoon the Johnson unit did, 1939’s “It’s the Natural Thing to Do” and continued here — the old Bluto from something like Willard Bowsky’s “Dizzy Divers” would have simply punched out Popeye and stolen the treasure map — Johnson’s Bluto goes into an almost sissified mocking of Popeye and Olive before taking the map, and later starts to sob when he hits the “Dead End” sign. The old Bluto only cried after Popeye beat the crap out of him.

    The change in Bluto to a character more suited for comedy wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it went with the studio’s move in the early 1940s (and continued into the Famous Studio early period) of moving more towards the Warner Brothers gag style cartoons (Johnson’s Bluto v2.0 would fit in perfectly in some of his World War II-era efforts, like “Kicking the Conga ‘Round” and “Many Tanks”).

  • That “one coin is all it takes to sink a ship” gag was also used by Charlie Shows decades later at the end of the “Captain Greedy” story arc of H-B’s RUFF AND REDDY!

  • The poster looks to be drawn by Jack Ozark – the length of Popeye’s pipe being the visual tip-off.

  • Would of been better had they shown the underground fight toward the end but the bird mocking Blutos two black eyes is gold lol pun intended

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