The Sea Hag is a character created by Elzie Crisler Segar in 1930 as part of his Thimble Theatre comic strip. She is a tall, unfeminine witch featured in comics and cartoons as Popeye's most fearsome nemesis.
It can be argued that the Sea Hag is Popeye's true and original main antagonist, however, due to her absence from the early cartoons, she is usually only recognized by the public eye as the primary antagonist in comics and some of the animated shows.
Creation and development in Thimble Theatre
The Sea Hag was created by E. C. Segar, making her debut in the 1929 Thimble Theatre strip "The Black Barnacle". After her first appearance, the Sea Hag would remain as the comic's primary and most recurring antagonist.
The Sea Hag would return as one of the main antagonists in the 1948 comic book series by E. C. Segar's former assistant Bud Sagendorf, where she would usually focus on subduing Popeye or joining forces with the latter's other enemies. Her comic book appearances would continue for decades until the title's end in 1984.
While having been a prominent character in the comics, the Sea Hag never got to appear in Fleischer Studios' Popeye cartoons.
Popeye's first TV series
The Sea Hag finally made her animated debut in the 1960s Popeye television series as a recurring character who once again served as one of the show's two primary antagonists, alongside Brutus. Two of the episodes she appeared in were actually loose adaptations of her Thimble Theatre storylines, with her even donning her disguise of "The Rose of the Sea" in one episode. Unlike in the strips, the Hag showed none of the romantic interest she is known to have for Popeye.
The All-New Popeye Hour
In 1978, Hanna-Barbera Productions, with King Features Syndicate, would produce a new Popeye television series, The All-New Popeye Hour. She was voiced by actress Marilyn Schreffler, who also provided the voice of Olive Oyl. In this series, the Sea Hag was the show's secondary antagonist after Bluto but usually served as a deadlier threat. Her main goal was once again to marry Popeye or to have him destroyed if he refused.
Popeye and Son
In 1987, the latest animated series focusing on Popeye was produced, entitled Popeye and Son. The series was unique in the Popeye franchise for taking place later in characters' lives (a notable change considering the rarity of having well-known cartoon characters actually move on with their lives). The Sea Hag however remained unchanged, as expected of an ancient witch. She appeared in the episode "Attack of the Sea Hag", where she had lost her ship's figurehead and had come to Sweethaven to reclaim it, and the episode "Damsel in Distress".
In 2004, a CGI-animated TV movie titled Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy was produced by Mainframe Entertainment for Lions Gate Entertainment and King Features Entertainment. In it, The Sea Hag was the main villain and the film was a loose adaptation of her introductory story as well as Popeye's search for his Pappy from Thimble Theatre. In the film, actress Kathy Bates performed the voice of the Sea Hag and her Siren disguise. The storyline follows Popeye's journey to find his long lost father Poopdeck Pappy in time for the holidays. As Popeye sails the treacherous Sea of Mystery, he encounters the villainous Sea Hag who is smitten by the mighty sailor and vows to stop at nothing until she steals him away.
The Sea Hag would re-appear in IDW Publishing's revival of the Popeye comics in 2012, where she was once again the primary antagonist alongside Bluto. In 2013, IDW held a special crossover event where they depicted many of the settings in their comics as being invaded by the Martians from the 1962 trading card game and 1996 film Mars Attacks. The Sea Hag would end up joining forces with the Martians in hopes of defeating Popeye and ruling the world in the special Mars Attacks Popeye.
The Sea Hag is a sinister old witch who is as merciless as she is wicked. She is willing to do all manner of cruel acts to get her way, and is not above threatening and enslaving others to do her dirty work. As a pirate, she is very greedy and dishonest and will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. Despite her hatred for him, the Sea Hag is actually attracted to Popeye and when not attempting to destroy him, she tries to find a way to trick him into marrying her so that they may rule the seas together as "Queen Haggy and King Popeye" with their combined magic and might. She is also bitterly jealous, and has gone great lengths to try and eliminate Popeye's sweetheart Olive Oyl as well. On one occasion, she gave Popeye's rival Brutus a potion to become young and handsome as a means to win over Olive Oyl. Later, after thinking that the Sea Hag had died, Popeye had this to say once he discovered she was still alive: "I yam glad she ain't dead even if she is a exter bad woman. If they wasn't no bad women, maybe we wouldn't appreciate the good ones. Anyway, she yam what she yam!". Still, the Sea Hag has tried to kill Popeye on occasion when convinced that Popeye remains uninterested in her.
Likely being the last witch on Earth, the Sea Hag is a powerful sorceress with vast archaic experience and powerful spells. She has a deep knowledge of magic artifacts and has used many of them to great effect over the years. She is able to practice Voodoo magic and is powerful enough to capture the equally magical Eugene the Jeep (although in a 1961 Popeye the Sailor episode she declares her magic is powerless against him, and is subsequently shown running as Eugene attacks her with magical bolts from his tail) and, in another episode, Santa Claus. She is also a powerful shapeshifter who can even alter her appearance to that of a number of forms, such as a sea monster, a mermaid, the Siren or her preferred alter ego, "Rose of the Sea". She has also shown the ability to manipulate the weather and create realistic illusions. Besides having a pet vulture named Bernard as her familiar spirit, she has also been able to command an army of Goons. The most famous of these is Alice the Goon. She can even control and tame all manners of beasts.
While not in fact an extraordinary ability, The Sea Hag possesses a notable ace up her sleeve in that she is one of the few villains Popeye cannot defeat with his fists due to his chivalrous code of honor, the sailor stating that he would never hit a woman - even someone as evil as the Sea Hag, who is more than willing to take advantage of this fact to her benefit. In some of these cases, it is Olive Oyl herself who steps in and does the physical damage. There are two notable exceptions, however; the first time is in the 1960 episode "Old Salt Tale", where Popeye grabs her whip and uses it to fling her into the sea, but this is during a story being told by Popeye, therefore he does not truly do this; the second time is in Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy, during their final confrontation, yet all he did was fling and swing her around, only kicking her once while she was in her monstrous form.
The Sea Hag is an ancient Hag who has plagued the seas with her evil powers for quite some time. She is said to be the last witch on Earth (aside from her own sister), and a pirate who sails the seven seas in her ship, the Black Barnacle.
Twenty years past, on the night of the red moon, she is believed to have attacked the sailing ship on which a young Popeye and Bill Barnacle served on during their rookie days, the Mary Ann, with all manner of horrors, including an army of "beastly beings". The next day, Popeye, Bill and their skipper discovered that five of the crew members were gone, with no trace of them left behind, never to be seen again, having fallen victim to the cruelty of the Sea Hag.
The Black Barnacle
The Sea Hag first met Popeye and his crew at sea, and upon meeting Popeye, the Hag fell in love with him. Discovering that Popeye already had a girlfriend named Olive Oyl, she tried her best to be rid of Olive and win Popeye over to her favor. Popeye made it clear to her though that under no circumstances would he be interested in a relationship with her.
The Sea Hag's gallery can be viewed here
- Her exact age is never stated, but she is said to be incredibly old to downright ancient. In one newspaper comic strip, she even jokes that she gave the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Cheops the idea for the Pyramids, which would make her over 4500 years old.