Although I'm something of a fan of E[lzie] C[risler] Segar, what I like most when it comes to Popeye are the animated cartoons made by the Fleischer Studios, before they relocated to Florida. (Some years ago, the Woman of Interest got me a copy of Popeye the Sailor: 1933 – 1938, which was exactly the perfect collection for me.)
Anyway, I thought that I'd present my single favorite bit from those cartoons: For a better sense of what is happening here, watch Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves (1937), or at least the minute and 48 seconds starting at 6:12.Popeye and Olive and Wimpy are the restaurant of an oasis village, when there is a warning that Abu Hassan and his band of forty thieves are out on a raid. The villagers go into hiding (as does Olive). Indeed, the thieves approach this very village. Popeye hears a great commotion outside, leaps from his stool, and begins pumping his fists.
Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves is, over all, not actually my favorite Popeye cartoon — which, off the top of my head, might instead be Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor (1936), though I'm not sure — but this one bit is perfect. Popeye isn't sure what he's about to confront, but he's prepared to fight it! Popeye is emotionally prepared to fight
Popeye is, in important respects, a simple man. He has many apparently unexamined certitudes, leaps to conclusions, and often does things that are very inappropriate. And he knows that he's simple; that's part of what he's saying with
I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam! Popeye doesn't typically
think his way out of a problem; it doesn't even seem to occur to him to try. If thinking were suggested to him, then he'd probably confess that he couldn't. He uses his fisks 'cause that's what he's gots. And, ultimately, they've always seemed to be enough.
But, in the moral sphere, he is consistently doing his very best. Not just what others might see as enough, but his best.
I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam! isn't used to rationalize shirking. Popeye is prepared to fight whatever comes through that door because, if it's bad, somebody has to fight it; and, if Popeye doesn't fight it, well, then who will?
BTW, on Thursday, I received copies of the first three volumes of the Fantagraphics Popeye reprints from Edward R. Hamilton, mentioned in a previous entry; they had no remainder marks. (And the transaction seems otherwise to have been perfectly satisfactory.)
 Except in-so-far as he has no personally acceptable means by which to fight a woman.