Who woulda thought Popeye was so precious to Republicans?

Randy Milholland, creator of the webcomic Something Positive, has busted into the big leagues and is now responsible for the Sunday Popeye strips. He’s doing a fine job!

I hates debate trolls, too! He’s also refreshing a few things about the strip.

After nearly a hundred years in existence, the Popeye comic strip is reportedly getting a woke makeover, with the strip’s latest cartoonist promising more ethnic diversity and “more characters who aren’t heterosexual.”

Cartoonist Randal K. Milholland described the Popeye character as being “gender fluid,” citing old episodes in which the plot required Popeye to dress in drag.

“I [want] to bring in more characters who aren’t heterosexual,” Milholland said in an interview with the San Antonio Express-News. “I don’t live in that purely straight white world, and I don’t think a lot of other people do either.”

Good news, I would think. Unfortunately, that quote is from Breitbart, where talking about “a woke makeover” is like waving a strip of red meat at a very stupid and confused bull who has forgotten what a normal diet is and thinks an all-meat meal is exactly what real bulls eat. The comments section is bizarre — the idea that a comic strip might include non-straight characters enrages them.

It’s got 600 comments and they’re all as detached from reality as that sample! Did you know that having a gay character in a comic strip represents the Neo-Maoist erasure of history and destruction of culture? They also kind of lose the plot somewhere in there and start ranting about black characters in comic books, all while periodically quoting the Bible. I don’t think any of them are very tightly moored to reality.


  1. gijoel says

    These bloody comics make my pants fit funny. I paid $10 for them at Lowes, no other shops sell pants in my stout size. I’m not going to go out and buy another pair of pants just because of some libural artists put some funny looking fellas in a comic. It’s not on. /s

  2. cgm3 says

    So they’re outraged over a suggested change but apparently can’t even get one of the basic facts about the series straight. Popeye’s long-time nemesis was Bluto, not Pluto, and was later renamed Brutus. Cripes, maybe he should have just reinvented Popeye as a black guy in the Mister T mold so the haters would be on familiar ground.

  3. Oggie: Mathom says


    Oh, no. Not Mr. T. He was part of that anti-freedom SJW A-Team.

  4. raven says

    …the Neo-Maoist erasure of history and destruction of culture


    What is neo-Maoism anyway? I’ve never even heard of it.

    Wikipedia Chinese New Left

    The Chinese New Left (Chinese: 中国新左派) is a term used in the People’s Republic of China to describe a diverse range of left-wing political philosophies that emerged in the 1990s that are critical of the economic reforms instituted under Deng Xiaoping, which emphasized policies of market liberalization and privatization to promote economic growth and modernization.[1]

    There is an ambiguity of the term New Left in discourse drawing from the diversity of the movement, generally speaking, the New Left can be applied to a person who embraces leftist theories, ideals and traditions rooted in variations of socialist ideology, and other schools criticizing postmodernism and neoliberalism.[3]

    So Popeye hates free markets, economic growth, modernization, and criticizes postmodernism and neoliberalism.

    No, I don’t think so.
    This is a comic strip character. I’ve never seen Popeye spend a whole lot of time opposing Loonytarianisn and postmodernism, although that would be OK with me.

    The trolls are just stringing words together to make meaningless insults. Neo-Maoism seems to be “Cultural Marxism” from someone who forgot what the current insult is.

  5. raven says

    Yeah, just reading those comments shows that right wingnut trolls are dumb.

    Olive was always very feminine, as all women should ideally be.

    Cthulhu, this is stupid.
    1. What is “very feminine” is all culturally determined and changes rapidly in real time.

    These days “very feminine” is going to college and getting a degree**. In fact, the majority of people who graduate from higher education are women.
    It’s also very feminine to be an Olympic class athlete, start and run a company, be an elected official, be a doctor, lawyer, veterinarian, etc.

    2….as all women should ideally be…
    None of this guy’s business who is “very feminine”, and who is not.
    Humans vary a lot in any metric you care to look at. Putting 4 billion women in the same tiny box is dumb.

    **According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center,
    women accounted for nearly 60% of all college students by the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. Nov 19, 2021

    Women Continue to Outnumber Men in College Completion

  6. vorjack says

    Oh dear. This should be interesting. We all know how Randy Milholland responds to mass criticism: by doubling .. no, tripling … No! Quinaplexatuplling down!
    This is the guy who responded to demands that he include Kestrel from Queen of Wands by including Kestrel from Queen of Wands … for three panels before she got hit by a car. Who was criticized for an unflattering portrayal of a Wiccan and responded by turning his whole site black with pentagrams and including lines like “We like Wiccans … They Burn Better!”
    This could get ugly. Ugly, but hilarious.

  7. gijoel says

    @7 Was that the Wiccan who complained to a black character that they could never understand what it was like to live with centuries of abuse and summary executions?

  8. says

    Olive Oyl predated Popeye, and was apparently inspired by the flappers. I wonder how the equivalent of today’s Bratbarters saw her in the ’20s. They probably hated her because she didn’t behave like a “proper” woman. As for the new strips they only appear on Sundays, while the rest of the week are reprints of old strips. So I’m sure some of the whiners will complain about “woke” in strips drawn decades ago.

  9. robro says

    Will Gaines had a big flap with the Comic Code Authority over a story he re-published in Incredible Science Fiction #33 titled, Judgement Day. The story by writer Al Feldstein and artist Joe Orlando involves an human astronaut visiting a planet of robots. The CCA objected to the story because in the last panel the astronaut removes his helmet to reveal that he is black, and not only black but has beads of sweat on his face reflecting the stars. Judge Charles Murphy, the Comics Code Administrator, first insisted that the character couldn’t be black. Gaines and Feldstein fought that decision as the story was an allegory about racism. When Judge Murphy relented on that point, he insisted they remove the sweat. Both Gaines and Feldstein told Murphy to “fuck off”. Gaines eventually closed down all his comic book operations and turned his Mad title into a magazine which was not subject to the CCA.

    Just goes to show that the stupidity we see around us today has a long, stupid history…although I suppose you could credit the stupidity with inspiring “underground” comics.

  10. Walter Solomon says

    How, exactly, was Olive Oyl “ideally feminine” when she didn’t even have a feminine physique? She had no curves, at all. Very androgynous.

    How is Popeye an “alphaman” when he’s constantly getting bullied by Bluto? And forget me started on Wimpy. He’s wasn’t exactly a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” type of guy.

  11. says

    Cartoonist Randal K. Milholland described the Popeye character as being “gender fluid,” citing old episodes in which the plot required Popeye to dress in drag.

    No, that’s not “gender fluid,” that’s just wearing women’s clothes to accomplish a particular goal. Unless, of course, you find yourself enjoying it more than you expected to, and find you have a “feminine side” you hadn’t acknowledged before. Did Popeye confess such a reaction to Olive Oyl after he’d done what he had to do?

  12. whheydt says

    These guys better not start reading Doc Rat. There are at least three gay characters, a camel, a tiger and a dog. The tiger and the dog, both named Pat, are a couple that run a company called “Florists of the Night”.

  13. says

    raven @6: I suspect that by “very feminine” that commenter means “totally powerless and having no ability, or will, to choose which man gets to carry her off and do what he wants with/to her, and having to submit to whichever man wins the latest fight, even as she knows one man is good for her and the other is totally evil.”

  14. CorporalKlinger says

    “… When Judge Murphy relented on that point, he insisted they remove the sweat. …”
    I don’t understand the problem he had with the sweat of that character.

  15. Owlmirror says

    “… When Judge Murphy relented on that point, he insisted they remove the sweat. …”
    I don’t understand the problem he had with the sweat of that character.

    The Judgement Day comic panel in question is here

    At a very rough guess, the twinkling stars on his skin makes him look nobler? Like someone graced with destiny? Something like that? Stars have a long history of symbolizing higher things.

  16. CorporalKlinger says

    @ 18 Owlmirror

    Thanks for the link. I’ve seen the picture in question now, but honestly, I still don’t get it. I suppose it’s some kind of racist prejudice BS. In a way, I’m glad that I don’t get it.

  17. lanir says

    I see whining about the passing of a golden era that never existed is still popular among those with a loose grasp of reality.

  18. woozy says


    blockquote>“… When Judge Murphy relented on that point, he insisted they remove the sweat. …”
    I don’t understand the problem he had with the sweat of that character.

    The impression I get from the story makes it sounds as the Judge Murphy would have it as a token concession to authority. You look horns and they win the battle, so you make a meaningless request hoping because it’s meaningless they won’t mind and then you can spin the story “I gave a little, you gave a little, but we heard each other out and ended with better agreement all round”. So… “Okay, you can leave the black guy in, but you gotta give me something um…. the sweat…. yeah, you gotta take out the sweat!”

  19. says

    He’s way behind the times. My late mother turned Popeye woke over 65 years ago. In an effort to get me to eat silver beet she told me it was spinach. It did absolutely nothing for my biceps but I do enjoy real spinach, (anything tastes better than silver beet).

  20. silvrhalide says

    @17 Nice! Thanks for the link.

    @18 I suspect the real problem was no white males as Noble Heroes TM, but yeah, also the racial prejudice thing.

    @10 The CCA came into existence because originally there were literally no standards for publishing comic books and quite a few of the early ones were pornographic. So the CCA was created so parents would know what comics were okay to buy for little Jimmy. (Little Janie was SOL, comics were pretty much all aimed at white adolescent and preadolescent males. At least until Sandman blew that door off its hinges.)
    Eventually, the CCA outlived its usefulness but continued to exert control anyway. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund came into existence to fight legal attacks against non-CCA books (notably, Omaha The Cat Dancer).
    Pity that it turned out the CBLDF was led by a sexual harasser/predator.
    But the Frank Miller ad was always my favorite.

    Basically, the CCA functionally created the underground comics scene/movement, as creators’ ways of doing an end run around the CCA stamp, without which, supermarkets, convenience stores, card shops, etc. would not stock you comic book and distributors would not buy your book for distribution.
    Some books that would have never made the CCA cut (by no means an exhaustive list):
    Batman: The Dark Knight (the original Frank Miller 4 part miniseries)
    Sandman (issues 1-8 for sure), Hellblazer, Lucifer, etc (pretty much anything under the Vertigo imprint, really)
    Pretty much anything Robert Crumb did, ever…
    Pretty much anything Alan Moore did, ever…