Sep 8, 2009
Brutus or Bluto?
Good Ol' Bluto
Ah, the age old question: Was Popeye's nemesis named Brutus or Bluto? Actually, he went by both, but the explanation is rather convoluted and, of course, involves lawyers. Only a lawyer could scare Bluto into changing his name.
Good Ol' E.C. Segar
E.C. Segar began drawing the Thimble Theater comic strip for King Features Syndicate in 1919. In 1929 he introduced Popey into the strip, and then, in 1932, he introduced Bluto.
So Bluto came first, for those of you keeping score.
Then, in 1933, the first Popeye cartoon was released by Fleischer Studios, featuring Bluto as the villain. Everything was smooth sailing for Bluto until 1956, when production of the Popeye cartoons was discontinued because Fleischer felt they had played out the formula, and the syndication rights were sold to another company, namely Associated Artists.
Much to everyone's surprise the T.V. ratings went straight through the roof.
King Features Syndicate, who only owned the print rights to the Popeye strip, decided to milk the Popeye animation cow for all it was worth by producing their own animated cartoons. Only in these cartoons the villain's name became Brutus.
Bad research on King Feature's part. They thought that the Bluto character was created for the Fleischer cartoons, and that Paramount (who owned Fleischer) had legal rights to the name. They issued a hastily assembled press release saying they were "going back to the original...in the first newspaper comics the villain was Brutus" which, as you can read above, was definitely not true!
It was quickly decided that Brutus was an entirely new character, and his looks and behavior were subtly altered, even though it wasn't really enough for anyone to notice. Brutus stuck around for only a couple of years...when Hanna-Barbera introduced "The All-New Popeye Show" Brutus went back to being called Bluto, and it stayed Bluto, including for the Robin Williams Popeye film in 1980.
Good Ol' Paul L. Smith as Good Ol' Bluto
So that's the scuttlebutt on the whole Brutus or Bluto debate. If you'd like to read a slightly more in-depth article about it (which is where I culled most all of the information for this post) I suggest you click right on over to The Straight Dope for the straight dope on this subject and many other fascinating subjects as well!
Good Ol' Bluto NOT from Popeye, but I include him anyway!