"The Ape" was a beast of a man whose true name was unknown and who served as a cook on the Josie Lee. When Popeye was 12 years old and served on this ship in his first voyage, it was this monster of a man that was responsible for the loss of the young sailor's right eye, in what would be "the mos' arful battle" of Popeye's life.
Creation and development in Thimble Theatre
"The Ape" was created by E. C. Segar in March 1931 for King Features Syndicate's series of promotional spots called Popeye's Life Story, which contained details about Popeye's life growing up and all his personal traits. "The Ape" was introduced as the one responsible for Popeye's missing eye.
Due to the obscurity and rarity of Popeye's Life Story, "The Ape" is not very well known to the populace, with his appearances and mentions in other media being rare or nonexistent.
At an unknown point in his past, "The Ape" claimed to have been a master chef somewhere, whose specialty and one-of-a-kind culinary creation was known as "Off", a dish he claimed could be made out of anything, even a bag of old silverware. He would eventually either resign or be fired from his previous occupation and would go on to become the chef onboard the sailing ship known as the Josie Lee.
The One-Eyed Sailor
Long after joining the crew of the Josie Lee, "The Ape" would come face to face with the crew's newest recruit, Popeye, a young 12-year-old sailor with a feisty temper. The youngster was a skilled crapshooter who regularly beat his crewmates in shooting craps thanks to his lead-loaded dice. One night, "The Ape" finally had enough of the rookie shipmate's "winning streak" and sought to teach the young sailor a cruel lesson he would never forget, for on that night he violently pounced on the helpless Popeye, with the result of his violent beatings being the loss of Popeye's right eye.
However, the incident would only make Popeye all the more dangerous, yet he would hold no personal grudge against the lumbering beast of a chef. However, a day came when "The Ape" had truly gone too far and raised the ire of the one-eyed sailor, when he threatened to turn a helpless little female albatross into a plate of "Off". Not willing to stand for such needless cruelty towards what could the sister of an albatross, Popeye let "The Ape" finally have it, defeating the beast-man with a swift punch, unintentionally getting his revenge while also saving the life of the grateful little "Albatress". What became of "The Ape" after this incident remains a mystery.