A cartoon figure and comic strip created by Elzie Crisler Segar in 1929 and syndicated by the Hearst newspapers King Features syndicate. He is a sailor who, when in trouble, eats spinach that gives him superhuman strength, usually to save his sweetheart Olive Oyl from his nemesis Bluto/Brutus.
Segar's strip was surrealistic. The compilation volumes show how much different it was from the later strips (and the TV show).
After Segar's death in 1938, many different artists were hired to draw the strip, some more popular than others.
Popeye was turned into an animated cartoon character, starting in 1933 with a Betty Boop cartoon named Popeye the Sailor by Fleischman Studios. Over 600 cartoons were produced in the next four decades. In the cartoons, his nemesis was sometimes named Bluto and other times Brutus; no explanation is apparent for the vagaries.
The reference to spinach comes from the publication of a study that, because of a misprint, gave spinach ten times its iron content. Another regular character in the strip was Wimpy, who may have played a significant role in popularizing the hamburger in the United States. The Wimpy's chain of hamburger restaurants was not the first (White Castle is generally recognized as that), but was the first to go overseas.