Eugene the Jeep is a character in the Thimble Theatre comic strip. A mysterious animal with magical abilities, the Jeep first appeared in the March 16, 1936 Thimble Theatre strip (now simply "Popeye"). He was also present in animated versions of Popeye's adventures, including three appearances in the Fleischer Studios shorts of the late 1930s/early 1940s, with more extensive appearances in later Popeye cartoons produced for TV.
In the August 9, 1936 strip, headlined "Wha's a Jeep?", Popeye asks "Professor Brainstine" what exactly a Jeep is. He gets the following response:
"A Jeep is an animal living in a three dimensional world-in this case our world but really belonging to a fourth dimensional world. Here's what happened. A number of Jeep life cells were somehow forced through the dimensional barrier into our world. They combined at a favorable time with free life cells of the African Hooey Hound. The electrical vibrations of the Hooey Hound cell and the foreign cell were the same. They were kindred cells. In fact, all things are, to some extent, relative, whether they be of this or some other world, now you see. The extremely favorable conditions of germination in Africa caused a fusion of these life cells. So the uniting of kindred cells caused a transmutation. The result, a mysterious strange animal."
The animated cartoons took the straightforward approach of defining the character as some type of dog. In The Jeep (1938), Popeye presents the animal to Olive Oyl and Swee'Pea with the simple explanation, "The Jeep's a magical dog and can disappear and things." In Popeye Presents Eugene the Jeep (1940), it is Popeye who receives the creature from Olive, in a box via a special delivery man (voiced by Pinto Colvig), and with the premise that he had never seen the creature before: "Well, blow me down! A baby puppy!"
It has been theorized that the Jeep vehicle was named after this character: soldiers in World War II may have nicknamed the machine after the then-popular character because they shared an ability to "go anywhere".
Attributes and abilitiesEdit
In the context of the comic strip, Eugene the Jeep was a gift to Popeye's girlfriend Olive Oyl from her Uncle Ben who found Eugene in Africa. The Jeep is a yellow creature about the size of a dog who walks on his hind legs. He has a bear-like head and ears but a large nose, long tail, and protruding stomach. The Jeep's diet consists only of orchids.
As his language is limited to the word "Jeep", Eugene primarily communicates through body language. Eugene always tells the truth, and, possessing high intelligence, is able to help humans such as Popeye and Olive Oyl solve complex problems. He makes use of a limited form of teleportation; he can disappear from one place and reappear in another, and can walk through and on walls and ceilings. These teleportation powers are said to stem from the Jeep's ability to cross into the fourth dimension .