Thursday, June 9, 2011

Well, Blow Me Down

Dammit, I missed Eugene the Jeep's birthday!

If you have to ask...
Eugene the Jeep is the magical little critter who hangs out with Popeye the Sailor, of course. He was introduced in the funny papers on March 13, 1936, which makes Eugene 75 this year. Happy Belated Birthday, little guy!

Who, me?
As explained in the "Thimble Theater" comic (nowadays it's just called "Popeye" because what the hell did it ever have to do with thimbles?), Eugene is a curious creature with mysterious origins:
“A Jeep is an animal living in a three dimensional world - in this case our world - but really belonging to a fourth dimensional world. Here’s what happened. A number of Jeep life cells were somehow forced through the dimensional barrier into our world. They combined at a favorable time with free life cells of the African Hooey Hound. The electrical vibrations of the Hooey Hound cell and the foreign cell were the same. They were kindred cells. In fact, all things are, to some extent, relative, whether they be of this or some other world, now you see. The extremely favorable conditions of germination in Africa caused a fusion of these life cells. So the uniting of kindred cells caused a transmutation. The result, a mysterious strange animal.”
That's so awesome. Compare that with the writing in your average comic strip today:

The nice men who wrote and drew this "Dick Tracy" strip have since retired.
They're in a lovely place with soft cushiony walls and no sharp objects.
Anyway, little Eugene is actually the leader of Jeep Island. He's a pretty wise and powerful little dude. Also, he never lies. So there's little chance of him running for Congress.

"I am the King of Weiner Island"
would have been a great tweet.
The Jeep - the army vehicle - was actually named after Eugene, although some people incorrectly believe it was the other way around.  Not surprisingly, Jeep owners have adopted Eugene the Jeep as their mascot, although technically it should be the other way around.

We exposed Precocious Daughter to the old Max Fleischer Popeye cartoons at an early age, so she has an appreciation for the spinach-loving sailor. Unfortunately, she doesn't share his affinity for the leafy green vegetable, despite my serenading her with the Popey song, to wit: "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man/I live in a garbage can/I eat all the worms and spit out the germs/I'm Popeye the Sailor Man." There's no accounting for taste.
In any event, somehow we missed introducing PDaughter to Eugene the Jeep, so she just gives me blank looks when he comes up in conversation. Things like Eugene the Jeep do tend to pop up regularly in our conversations at home, because you can't talk about international monetary policy all the time. Or, you know, lolcats and which is the best Doctor Who. And to be fair, as she gets closer to being a teenager she gives me more and more blank looks. One of us is getting touchy and hormonal, although sometimes I'm not sure which one.
That's why it's important that we connect now on the subject of Eugene the Jeep. So for PDaughter, and my delightful readers, I found one of Eugene's film appearances. Enjoy.  

And if you want more of the original "Thimble Theatre" strips, there are several volumes available for your reading pleasure.

Join me next time for "In Praise of Alice the Goon." Arf arf arf!

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