Articles by: Fred m. Grandinetti

  • Art & Culture

    Buon 90° compleanno, Braccio Di Ferro!

    When Mussolini came to power in Italy, he banned all American comic strips, but Popeye was so popular the Italians made him bring it back.  While the one-eyed sailor has been extremely successful in the United States his popularity exploded in Italy.  

    Popeye celebrates his 90th birthday in 2019 having made his debut in E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre comic strip on January 17, 1929. The character was meant for only one story but newspaper audiences wanted to see more of him. Segar soon featured Popeye alongside original cast members Ham Gravy, Olive and Castor Oyl.  By the early 1930’s Popeye merchandise was lining store shelves. In 1933 Max Fleischer included Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto in one of his Betty Boop cartoons.  The film was extremely successful and Popeye’s own theatrical series shortly followed.  By the time production ended in 1957 two hundred and thirty- four cartoons were completed. When these same animated films made their television debut in September of 1956 Popeye mania was ignited.  King Features Syndicate (and later Hanna-Barbera Productions) produced approximately three hundred additional Popeye cartoons for the small screen. A live action movie titled Popeye was released in 1980 with Robin Williams as the one-eyed sailor.

    The sailor’s success spread to Europe with hundreds of products flooding the Italian marketplace.  In Italy Popeye is often referred to as Braccio Di Ferro and his friends go by Olivia (Olive), Pisellino (Swee’pea), Poldo Sbaffini (J. Wellington Wimpy), Trinchetto (Poopdeck Pappy) and Eugenio il Gip (Eugene the Jeep). Popeye’s nemeses are La Strega del Mare (The Sea Hag) and Timoteo (Bluto/Brutus).

    During the 1960’s Braccio Di Ferro’s exposure in Italy was heightened by the successful film, Le avventure di Braccio Di Ferro a complication of his theatrical cartoons produced by Paramount Pictures.

    When Hy Eisman, who produces a new Popeye Sunday page, visited Italy he was mobbed by fans when word got out, he was the man behind Italy’s famous spinach-eater.

    According to Braccio Di Ferro historian, Lorenzo Terranova, from 1963 to 2000 approximately a thousand comic books containing original material written and drawn by Italian artists were published in Italy, plus thousands of reprints of the same material.

    E.C. Segar’s comic strips have been reprinted in Italian several times. Most recently La Gazzetta dello Sport published sixty outstanding books reprinting not only Segar’s work of his successors; artists Doc Winner, Bela Zaboly and writer Tom Sims.  With the comic strips were articles about the animated cartoons produced by Paramount Pictures and why Popeye’s nemesis was called Bluto and later Brutus.

    Popeye has a Facebook page dedicated to his Italian fans at Quelli che vogliono di nuovo Braccio di Ferro in edicola.  His Italian comic book adventures have been catalogued at the site “Avventure di Pugni e Spinaci” (see >> ), managed by Popeye fan Gaspare Pero.


    Buon 90 ° compleanno Braccio Di Ferro!


  • Advertisements for Domenic D'Amico's practice through the years
    Facts & Stories

    Happy Anniversary Dr. Domenic D'Amico!

    A power outage, near his location at 359 Main Street in Watertown MA, stopped a dental procedure dead in its tracks. The mishap shut down vital equipment as D'Amico was removing a patient's tooth. "I was actually doing an extraction around 10:30 am and heard a loud bang", D'Amico recalled. Thankfully the patient was just given novocain and was not to far along in the procedure.

    Italian roots

    At a party held at his dental practice to celebrate the special anniversary, D'Amico reflected upon his Italian heritage: "My parents were raised in a small town in central Italy which was two and a half hours east of Rome called St. Eue.  They made the decision to reside in the United States as it presented more opportunities. My father was a welder who eventually opened up his own business. My mother became a seamstress.  Despite busy lives we all celebrated Italian traditions faithfully."


    D'Amico became interested in dentistry during his junior year at Boston College. He later studied at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine where he was inducted into the Omicron Kappa Upsilon, the National Dental Honor Society. "I am very fortunate to have had many wonderful experiences and great mentors along the way", D'Amico said.  

    In addition to his practice, D'Amico is an active member of The Watertown Rotary Club serving as its president from 1999 to 2000. In 2002, the club honored him with the Paul Harris fellow award for exemplary service.

    Happy Anniversary and hopefully power outages are limited in the future.

  • Nicola Orichuia with Sandro Dossi's artwork
    Life & People

    Nicola Orichuia’s Efforts Bring Italian-Americans Together

    “I wanted a space where Italian-Americans could be recognized and not play favorites. No connections with any organizations or sign-ups”, Orichuia said. The store sells books of all genres and has many cultural events.  These include theatre performances, concerts, poetry readings, Italian language courses, children’s activities and book clubs.

    The book store is not Orichuia’s only way of bringing the Italian-American community together.  In April of 2011 he launched on the internet.  This led to Bostoniano magazine in 2013 which has become known as “Boston’s Italian American Voice.” The publication’s slogan is “Embrace Your Inner Italian.” 

    Famous Italian cartoonist, Sandro Dossi, gifted Orichuia with an original drawing of Braccio Di Ferro (Popeye), Olivia (Olive Oyl) and Pisellino (Swee’pea). The artwork was created to thank Orichuia’s efforts for his journalistic and creative endeavors. Dossi illustrated the Popeye characters for Italian comic books for several years.

    When he was asked what is the most challenging thing to running a book store Orichuia replied, “The best way to present the books.  I want the presentation to always be elegant.  Also finding someone to clean the bathroom.  Everyone wants to run the register but no one wants to go into the bathroom.”  

    I AM Books is located at 189 North Street, Boston MA and the store’s website is located at The store can be reached, by phone, at (857)-263-7665.

    For information regarding Bostoniano magazine please go to >>>