Making a play to connect with a younger audience, New York’s King Features Syndicate is relaunching its iconic Popeye brand with a new digital short series.
The first episode of Popeye’s Island Adventures is available now on the Popeye and Friends YouTube channel, featuring the same squash-and-stretch animation style of the original cartoon, but with updated characters and plots. The titular sailor is younger and has an eco-conscious lifestyle—he collects rainwater in barrels and grows spinach on the roof of his houseboat, which villain Bluto tries to steal. Olive Oyl, once sidelined as a damsel in distress, is now at the center of Popeye’s new adventures.
The digital short series kicks off just as the brand prepares to celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2019, and this game plan includes the return of Popeye’s Cartoon Club, a campaign inviting cartoonists from around the world to contribute their own Popeye comics for print, digital and social media. More than a dozen partners are also on board to launch merchandise in the coming months, with a focus on streetwear apparel.
King Features Syndicate has recently bolstered its licensing and marketing teams with eight new hires, as well as tapping DHX Media-owned WildBrain to manage its Popeye and Friends YouTube channel in May.