Popeye meets Wilco in hand-drawn cartoon music video

[Video Link] The Wilco track "Dawned On Me" re-imagined as a classic, early-era Popeye cartoon. The song is from the band's Grammy-nominated 2011 album, "The Whole Love." They're on tour now, and should not be missed, as they are one of the greatest live acts on the planet. The animation is a collaboration with King Features, and is "the first hand-drawn Popeye cartoon in more than 30 years." Directed by Darren Romanelli. Best url ever: wilcospinach.com.

A little more about how the video came to be, below, from Wilco and Romanelli...

This collaboration between American icons is one of the first music videos Wilco has released since 1999 and it presents the band to the masses in a fresh, new way: as animated images, side-by-side with Popeye and his friends Olive Oyl, Swee’ Pea, Wimpy and Bluto.

As one of the earliest animated characters, introduced in 1933 by Fleischer Studios, Popeye has become one of the most enduring and iconic cartoon characters of all time and is forever entwined in the evolution of animation. The music video marks the first new Popeye cartoon since “Popeye’s Voygage: The Quest for Pappy,” the 3-D CGI primetime TV special and deluxe DVD release produced by King Features Syndicate for Popeye’s 75th Anniversary in 2004. In what has become a primarily digital world, this new video marks the first hand-drawn, frame-by-frame rendering for Popeye cell animation since the Popeye and Son series from 1987.

This certainly isn’t Popeye’s first foray into love territory: the Sailor Man first met his “goil,” Olive Oyl, in Elzie Crisler Seagar’s popular Thimble Theatre comic strip in the 1930s and their legendary love only grew and captivated the imagination of fans all over the world. The couple even made People Magazine’s list of the Greatest Love Stories of the 20th Century.

(thanks, Tara McGinley, and Darren Romanelli!)


  1. Good stuff. I never listened to Wilco before Nels Cline joined the group,  it seems like the music would be kind of bland without his distorted guitar hot sauce poured over it.

  2. Seriously?? you got a fashion designer to direct a cartoon? I admire the idea but the animation is terrible. They are going for “Fleischer Brothers”, but they obviously don’t understand what makes “Fleischer Brothers” good.

      1. Bit of a wasted opportunity.  No reason why it couldn’t have been heaps of fun, even with the limited animation (man, apparently hand-drawn really is a lost art).  All they had to do was come up with a bit more of a story.

        Can’t really explain why Weezer’s Buddy Holly works so much better.

    1. Yeah! this one looks great!! They shoulda hired you!! I would have thought that was period animation if I didnt know better! 
       I swear.  there are really talented people out there, but I think people these days think things should be cheap and easy.. and they get what they pay for.

      1. hahaha thanks! Everyone involved in the Stephen Foster video loved the old stuff. One of the co-directors used to work on ‘Twisted Tales of Felix”, my buddy Gabe did a really loving guide for how to organize thick and thin lines in the cleanup, and the thing was actually shot on cels despite it being cheaper to do it digitally.

        It also went way over budget and over deadline, and I don’t think it ever showed up on MTV at all like it was originally supposed to. (This was back when MTV still had SOME relevance.)

      1. Say wha—? You’re saying this on BoingBoing, one of the foremost proponents of DIY-from-top-to-bottom-to-making-to-marketing-to-delivery that there is?

        Don’t hide your light under a bushel, man. You may have invented a better ukelele-trap, but your next-door-neighbor is not going to beat the drum to your door.

        Mr Urnash — I never heard of him.


    2. Yeah, this was great! I love the old Fleischer cartoons and you guys really captured the spirit of them here.

  3. and I love how that “about how the video came to be” tells nothing about how it came to be. It sounds like it’s introducing popeye to people who know nothing about him. The lack of creativity and original thought is giving me a pounding headache. It sounds like the nothing speak of one of those fake placeholder websites.

  4. Tangentially related : Check out Wilco’s Nick Lowe cover and collaboration. Awesome. 
    (disclaimer : I think classic Nick Lowe is the bee’s knees.)

  5. I’m not a huge fan of retro cartoons. The closest you can get is almost as good as a classic cartoon. I’d rather see old animation techniques applied to contemporary situations than modern animation cheats used to illustrate old gags.

  6. I’m sad to say this appears to be one more example of King Features not being able to tell the difference between good Popeye material and bad Popeye material.  I’m sure there are people there whose love for the character is sincere, but bad choices keep getting made.

  7. I would expect a video for a popular band with licensed characters that had a director, designer, storyboard artist, two animation directors, and who knows how many actual animators wouldn’t look like a simple Flash animation run through After Effects’ “old timey” filter. A friend of mine made a very similar video a few years ago that was all the more impressive considering that he made it alone and without any budget.

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