Popeye, the 89-year-old spinach-powered mariner, will be launching his first new adventures in more than a decade in new animated originals slated to debut on the brand’s YouTube channel.
The new material will come under a pact between WildBrain, a digital kids’ network and studio, and Hearst’s King Features Syndicate, which handles licensing for the Popeye franchise. WildBrain will create new animated content in the “squash-and-stretch” animation style of Popeye, in collaboration with King Features.
Also under the agreement, WildBrain will take over management of the “Popeye and Friends Official” channel on YouTube, launched in January 2017, with an eye toward boosting its audience. Initially, WildBrain plans to produce new compilations of Popeye classic cartoons, drawing from shows including “Popeye,” “Popeye and Son,” and “The Continuing Adventures of Popeye.”
It’s worth noting that King Features is focusing on YouTube and digital platforms to serve as Popeye’s anchor — not TV.
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In the last month, Popeye’s digital channels including on YouTube and other social platforms generated more than 3.2 million minutes of video viewing, according to King Features. The brand also recently redesigned its website, popeye.com, with a new logo and interactive features, as well as 9.8 million followers on Facebook.
“WildBrain has the secret sauce that will help Popeye connect with his audience of millions around the world while growing his fan base exponentially through fresh new animation as we head into his [90th] anniversary year,” King Features president C.J. Kettler said in announcing the deal.
WildBrain’s network features content from brands including Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Shopkins and Lazy Town, plus material from DHX Media’s library of kids’ and family content including episodes of “Peanuts,” “Teletubbies,” “Strawberry Shortcake,” “Caillou,” “Inspector Gadget,” “Degrassi” and “Yo Gabba Gabba!”
King Features and WildBrain announced the Popeye pact Tuesday at Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. Popeye the Sailor was created by cartoonist E.C. Segar as a character in King Features’ “Thimble Theatre” comic strip in 1929. The sailor man has since appeared in numerous TV, movie, theatrical, video-game and digital adaptations, including a 1980 live-action film starring Robin Williams.