John Kricfalusi has a terrific post on his blog (link to his site at right) regarding the Fleischer "Popeye" cartoons now finally being released on DVD. I suspect John and I had similar childhoods, both being Ottawa boys. Back in the 1960's, Canadian kids only had access to our own home-grown TV channels: local affiliates of CBC, CTV and a handful of independents. We didn't get any American channels until the early 70's when cable was first introduced into Canadian households. As such, exposure to cartoons on TV was somewhat limited back then. "The Bugs Bunny / Roadrunner Hour" was carried on CBC Saturday evenings, and we had "The Wonderful World of Disney" (one of the titles of its various incarnations) every Sunday evening at 6 pm, also on CBC. Since Disney would only run a show with cartoons only once every five or six weeks or so, there really wasn't that much regular exposure to the Disney shorts, although that was still the era where Disney would have a couple of vintage cartoons accompany a new film release at the theatre, so it wasn't completely bleak.
However, that was also the era of the various kid's shows on local TV channels hosted by affable middle-aged fellows, sometimes in goofy costumes like "Howdy Doody's" Buffalo Bob. These shows were mainly comprised of whatever old theatrical cartoons were available to them cheaply to run to their heart's content. Fortunately, this meant that the old "Popeye" cartoons were on practically every day in lunchtime and after school timeslots. As such, back when I was really young, Popeye was my favourite cartoon character, by virtue of the fact that I had seen more of those cartoons than anything else at that time. Somewhere there's a photo of me at about age 5 or 6 holding these big solid plastic toy figurines of Popeye and Wimpy - great toys as I recall. I remember drawing Popeye and the gang all the time, (and the Goons!) and that was probably the catalyst that launched me into this lifelong pursuit of working as a professional cartoonist. Admittedly, as I saw more of the Disney animated features at the theatre in those formative years, they became my real passion in the medium, but I will always harbour a special fondness for Popeye the Sailor, and I will certainly be adding this new DVD set to my cartoon library.
PS: Rather than give my own summation of the Fleischer "Popeye" cartoons, I would rather point you to what John K. has written on his blog, as he certainly has covered all the bases far better than I could on why these cartoons are so great.