Thursday, 11 September 2014

I've Censored the Sailor Man

No one swore in our home when I was a child, but I knew there were words that you shouldn’t say, though I didn’t know what they were.

There were swearing gags in a few cartoons I watched back then, but the one that made the biggest impression was the Popeye cartoon “Shape Ahoy.” Maybe the fact there were real human hands involved was the reason it stuck out. Or because the Popeyes ran ad nauseum on a local TV channel. Here are a couple of frames from a battered old AAP print (courtesy of Devon Baxter).

The old hoofer Jack Ward and Irving Dressler were the storymen on this cartoon, directed by Izzy Sparber.


  1. The other fun part here is the animator (Ben Solomon? -- Definitely not Jim Tyer) plays out the mouth and jaw movements of the words Popeye and Bluto were going to say, even with the stickers over the mouths. Not as blatantly obvious as what Friz did with the Indian who got the arrow to the back of his head in "The Hardship of Miles Standish", but still a nice extra effort when the gag itself was the elimination of the dialogue).

  2. Similarly, this sort of trick was done before in "Cartoons Ain't Human" where a hand comes up with a stamp to put "Censored" on Popeye's drawing of what he wanted to do after being 'inspired'. Even earlier, though not a censor joke, a pair of hands help repair the film in "Goonland". Can't think of any other time this has happened in the Popeye cartoons.