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大力水手七十五周岁生日

2006-07-15 17:28Ann Oldenburg

  He is what he is. We all know that. For 75 years, Popeye has been one of the cartoon world's most famous characters. Now, the spinach-chomping(吃菠菜) sailor is reinvigorated in a half-hour anniversary special, Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy.

  He's 75: Rejuvenated with computer animation, Popeye returns for an anniversary special on Fox.

  This Popeye is not only the subject of a new story, but he's also more muscular and realistic than ever as he moves from 2-D animation to 3-D computer generated imagery. (An hour-long CGI special is on DVD.)

  The Voyage plot, written by Paul Reiser and Jim Hardison, takes Popeye on a high-seas adventure, a trip to rescue his father who abandoned him as a child. Along for the ride are all of the sailor man's pals: first mate Bluto, girlfriend Olive Oyl, baby Swee'pea and stowaway(偷渡者) Wimpy. The merry crew runs into the horrible Sea Hag, and in the end, Popeye is forced to gobble some spinach to deal with her.

  Longtime fans will recognize the mannerisms, the mumbling and the spirit of the old 1930s Popeye. For Frank Caruso, King Features Syndicate vice president, executive producer and Popeye aficionado(爱好者/迷), it was a challenge to make sure Voyage stayed true to the character but also offered something fresh.

  “My dad grew up seeing Popeye shorts in theaters. I watched him after school every day. We thought, 'We have to do something for a new generation.' ”

  But he worried as Popeye was put together, thinking, “I can't screw this up.”

  Popeye is an icon.

  “I think it's because you can relate to him as the Everyman,” Caruso says. “Like he says: 'I yam what I yam.' ”

  A big question: Who could re-create that signature voice, provided by William Costello from 1933 to 1935 and then by Jack Mercer, a cartoonist, from 1935 to 1957?

  The answer: Billy West, one of the top voices in the business. He has brought life to Ren and Stimpy for Nickelodeon, to Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd in Space Jam and to Porky Pig and Tweety Bird in Looney Tunes: Back in Action.

  Popeye, West says, “sounds like a buzz saw.” He remembers mimicking Popeye as a kid. “All the guys I knew did him, but nobody had it right.”

  Then he saw a 1999 movie called Genghis Blues about the nomadic Asian people of Tannu Tuva who can sing more than one note at a time. “They call it Tuvan throat singing,” West says, and he realized it's what was missing for Popeye. “It's a low voice and a high voice at the same time, an exact octave apart.” He tried it and it worked. In his own words, he “nailed it.”

  Now he says, if only all those big animated movies would realize that voice specialists can do a better job bringing characters to life than big-name movie stars.

  “What adult cares whether some star does a voice? And especially what kid cares? The kids don't give a hang if Brad Pitt's doing a voice. No mortal actor can do what a voice person can do.”

  The Popeye file (大力水手档案)

  Who he is: Popeye the Sailor Man, good-guy underdog.

  Signature move: When he's in trouble, he opens a can of spinach and gains enough strength to beat all attackers.

  History: He was introduced in 1929 as a character in Elzie Segar's Thimble Theatre, a King Features Syndicate daily newspaper comic strip in the New York Journal. He became a cartoon in the early 1930s.

  Friends and family:

  Lanky gal-pal Olive Oyl.

  Burger-loving buddy Wimpy, who says, “I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

  Rival Bluto, a fellow sailor who is after Olive's affections.

  Baby Swee'Pea, who was left on Popeye's doorstep.

  Rough and rude Poopdeck Pappy, his father.

  Favorite sayings:“I yam what I yam !” and “I've had all I can stand, I can't stands no more!”

  His theme song:

  I'm Popeye the Sailor Man

  I'm Popeye the Sailor Man

  I'm strong to the finich

  'Cause I eats me spinach

  I'm Popeye the Sailor Man.

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