If there is a pantheon of biggest fictional characters of all time, there are a few whose membership should never be doubted. I dare anyone to not know the names of Superman, Sherlock Holmes, Mickey Mouse, Dracula, Bugs Bunny, or even Scooby-Doo. These are names, and faces, that are universally recognized and loved. I could make an argument for twenty or thirty other characters that I could easily names into their ranks, but this post is about one of them in particular. I'm sure that there are going to be naysayers about this guy, those who say he really isn't as big of a pop culture icon as I believe he is, but I would humbly tell them that they are wrong.
If for some bizarre reason you don't recognize this guy, you can call him Popeye the Sailor Man, Popeye for short. Popeye, bless his heart, comes across as a crass sailor with very little education. For the most part, he sort of lives up to that characteristic, but he has these moments that not only defies all expectations, but always made me think his normal attitude was all a front. Those moments when his intelligence shines, somehow solving problems that flummoxed everyone else, were the moments that made me think we were seeing the real Popeye. Spinach may have gave him super-strength, but I somehow doubt that it gave him super-intelligence as well. I never understood what he saw in Olive, a woman who seemed to pit him and Bluto against each other, all for her enjoyment. I guess it proves that when it comes to love, no amount of intelligence can keep you from acting a fool.
If you doubt his iconic status, just think back on all the comic strips, comic books, movies, TV shows, books, and cartoons that he has starred in over the last 87 years. That's not counting all the licenses merchandise, video and pinball games, toys and stuffed animals, his stint as a spokesman for Quaker Oats, or his stint as the mascot of the most popular soccer teams in the world at , Flamengo. If you can name a product, he has been on it. Popeye is the man, and Mickey, Bugs, and the rest, are making room for him.