She is a Goon, a tribe of strange humanoids that live on Goon Island and she serves as the leader of her people. Because Goons are indistinguishable from each other, most who meet Alice for the first time are unable to tell that she is a female Goon, which was a source of much calamity for Popeye when he first met her as a foe. Since their first encounter, Alice has become one of Popeye's closest friends and allies.
Creation and development in Thimble Theatre
Alice made her debut in the Sunday, December 10th, 1933 Thimble Theatre strip, amid the "Plunder Island" storyline. As yet unnamed (and her gender unspecified), she was a minion of the sorceress, the Sea Hag. Her name and gender were given in the January 14, 1934 strip, after she had captured Wimpy. Popeye eventually discovers that Alice was an unwilling slave to the Sea Hag after she had captured Alice's child, and Popeye helps Alice regain her freedom. Swee'Pea likes Alice, and she has become his babysitter in later comics.
Alice would return as a recurring character in the 1948 comic book series by E. C. Segar's assistant Bud Sagendorf, where she would appear as a friend of Popeye's or alongside her fellow Goons. Her comic book appearances would continue for decades until the title's end in 1984.
While having been a prominent character in the comics, Alice never got to appear in Fleischer Studios' Popeye cartoons. However her people did appear in the theatrical cartoon "Goonland". Although it is unknown if any of the prominent Goons in the short were meant to be her, as all Goons look alike.
Popeye's first TV series
Alice finally made her animated debut in the 1960s Popeye television series as a recurring character who would usually visit Popeye and Olive or be seen alongside her fellow Goons. Because of the episodic nature of the series, most of her appearances were usually minor or had her act as a different character, with the only episode that gave her major focus being "Frozen Feuds", where she was portrayed as an 'abominable snow monster' who scared people silly just by looking at them, but in truth was just a lonely female looking for a mate.
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. In this series, Alice was made a more prominent recurring character and was even given her own cartoons segments alongside her friend Olive Oyl titled Private Olive Oyl, where she and Olive were now female army recruits trying to learn the ropes and protocols of army life while having to endure the strict enforcement of their no-nonsense superior, Bertha Blast.
Alice would re-appear in IDW Publishing's revival of the Popeye comics in 2012. She was featured in the ninth issue, where she returned to her homeland alongside Popeye and the gang to take on Bluto while also revisiting her 'native' roots.
She is depicted as a bald Amazonian giantess with a large nose and extremely hairy forearms and legs. Because she is a Goon, she looks no different than the rest of her people to outsiders, and most (especially Popeye) are unable to tell that she is female, however Goons themselves have no issue telling each other apart.
In later appearances, Alice began wearing a dress and flowered hat to make her more noticeably feminine while the flowered hats served as a substitute for hair.
Her most common attire is a colorful sundress with polka-dots on the bottom half, along with brown boots and a small hat full of flowers. In the 60s, her dress was mostly green in color and the flowers in her hat were oddly shaped. In the Private Olive Oyl segments, she wore an army uniform with a green skirt, black shoes and soldier helmet that had a single flower growing out of it.
Alice is a kind and friendly Goon who cares for her people and family, willing to obey the likes of the Sea Hag for their sake. Like most Goons, she is a formidable warrior who will not back down when in combat, especially when the lives of those she loves are on the line. After traveling to human society, she has learned to somewhat adapt to human ways with only a few difficulties and she would go on to grow a desire to be more feminine and well-dressed like human females (as female Goons are almost indistinguishable from male Goons due to no individual Goons having unique facial features or proportions) and likely wished to make the differences more noticeable. Because of this, members of her tribe also began donning on human clothing thanks to their leader, allowing outsiders to not only tell difference between males and females, but individuals as well, however most Goons still prefer to wear only a little clothing unlike their fully dressed leader. Being a mother, Alice is quite fond of children which is evident in her close friendship with Swee'Pea whom she takes care of regularly. When Alice speaks, her words appear as a series of meaningless squiggles, because of this, she has a close friendship with Wimpy, who is the only one who can understand her Goony language.
Alice was the leader of her people on Goon Island and had a child with an unknown mate. She lived peacefully until her homeland was invaded by the wicked Sea Hag, who sought to use the Goons' formidable for her own gain. To do so, she kidnapped Alice's child and used her cruel threats to force Alice to obey her commands and take control of all the Goons.
When Popeye and his crew confronted the Sea Hag, the old witch had Alice battle the sailor in hopes of eliminating him once and for all. Alice proved to be a mighty foe but Popeye proved mightier, but before their fight could continue, Wimpy and Olive arrived and told Popeye the truth about the enslaved Alice. Realizing that his opponent was a woman (and a mother to boot), Popeye became ashamed of himself. After her child was freed from the Sea Hag, Alice became grateful to Popeye and his crew and would go on to become one of their closest friends as well.
Swee'Pea and Alice
One day, the now free Alice came to visit Popeye and was now dressed like a proper human, wearing her soon-to-be signature dress and hat. However, her visit is interrupted when townsfolk believe that she is a hairy monster that will hurt their children. To show them that Alice means no harm, Popeye decides to make Alice Swee'Pea's official babysitter to show that she wasn't so scary after all and was good with kids despite her not being human. Ever since, Alice and Swee'Pea have been close friends, with Alice often serving as a maternal figure to Swee'Pea.
Alice's gallery can be viewed here
- Spike Milligan was a fan of Popeye cartoons and took the name of The Goon Show from Alice and her tribe.