Pogo: The Complete Daily & Sunday Comic Strips - exclusive preview


PogocoverFantagraphics has released the first volume in a 12 volume series that will reprint the complete run of Walt Kelly's Pogo comic strip (1948 - 1973). It's called Pogo: The Complete Daily & Sunday Comic Strips, Vol. 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder.

Walk Kelly, born in 1913, started working as a Disney animator (Pinocchio, Dumbo, Fantasia)when he was 22 years old. He left Disney during the infamous labor dispute at the studio in 1941, and began drawing comic books. A year later, he created the character of Pogo, a wise/naïve possum who lives in the Okefenokee swamp with a menagerie of colorful swamp critters, including Albert Alligator, Churchy LaFemme (turtle), Porky Pine, Cousin Downwind (skunk), Rackety Coon Chile, and many other characters who who were, at turns, manipulative, generous, foolish, obstinate, and forgiving. Presenting his characters as animals gave Kelly the ability to explore human nature without the distraction that cartoon humans would have bought along with them. His illustration style was warm, highly expressive, and detailed without looking crowded. It's hard to think of another newspaper cartoonist who equalled his talents.

Kelly's daughter, Carolyn, designed and co-edited this 290-page anthology, and her love and admiration for her father is evident in the beauty of this book. The design is impeccable and the quality of the line art reproduction is superb. Countless hours went into the restoration of the strips. From the Editors' Note:

The comic strip syndicates did not always maintain a set of good, clean files for future generations' reprinting or reading pleasure. Into the trash so much of it went… making the jobs of today's archivists and assemblers all the more difficult.

This series of books, like so many other collections of classic strips, is therefore only possible thanks to the indefatigable fans. We're talking about the ones who, painstakingly over the decades, assembled collections of their favorite comic strips from old newspaper tear sheets. Steve Thompson, president of the POGO Fan Club, and Rick Norwood supplied the vast majority of strips for this volume, and when we had to fill in a few missing strips and panels, we turned to the vital Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University, and to its currently retiring curator, Lucy Caswell. It is also vital to salute the late and sorely missed Bill Blackbeard, whose utterly invaluable San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection formed the bedrock of OSU's collection.

Many Pogo strips contained political satire, and Kelly caught a lot of heat from the hooting, shit-flinging troglodytes of the day. In the foreword to Pogo: The Complete Daily & Sunday Comic Strips, Kelly's friend, Jimmy Breslin, wrote:

There was a minor problem with what Walt Kelly said on the afternoon I heard him say it. We were in a bar called the Orient Room, way up on a street along the East River in Manhattan, in New York, and he was interested in the large and most disturbing reaction to his Pogo comic strip about Senator Joseph McCarthy. He had drawn McCarthy as an ugly pig in the swamp that the Pogo strip used as a base. Or as a frightful lizard. Whatever, McCarthy was a complete scum in the swamp.

Everywhere in the country, and his Pogo was there, McCarthy people were so loud and outraged and calling for violence that it had to be taken as a problem.

Kelly agreed. Here is what he said as he stood in the bar with so many hearing him:

“I wish they would shoot me.”

Our problem with this is that I know that he meant it. Dark thought and the possibility of screaming humor.

Breslin's complete foreword, along with with 20 strips (including two full-page color Sunday strips) are after the jump. Enjoy!











  1. Beautiful.  When I was growing up we had a bunch of Pogo books with selected comics, and I always wanted to see the rest… Between this and the new Asterix reissues, I’ll have a whole lot of reading to do.

    Bill Waterson has said that Kelly was artistically a huge influence on him, and when you see how wonderfully the characters and the backgrounds are drawn, it’s pretty obvious to see.

  2. I pre-ordered this on Amazon over two years ago.  Because of their delays (explained in the Editor’s Note) it came last week, and was totally worth the wait.  I can’t wait for the next 11.

  3. Oh, boy.  Deck us all with Boston Charlie, because someone is most definitely getting me this for Christmas. Even if it turns out to be me.

  4. Man, I love his work, and his sense of outrage over things we all should be outraged about, and the way he responded to such things with dry wit and caustic satire.

    I grew up on old Pogo collections.  When I get home, I’ll type out the blurb from one of them, which advertises itself as “a fine cheap book for the burning”.

  5. All due respect to Walt Kelly, whose work I adore — but it’s not really that “hard to think of another newspaper cartoonist who equalled his talents”. That would be George Herriman, who predated him by decades, and without whom there wouldn’t have been a Walt Kelly.

  6. My favorite bit was a break Kelly took in the middle of the McCarthy strips to have Albert Alligator and Howland Owl compete in a thinking contest.

    Friday the 13th done coming on a Tuesday this month. Y’all be careful.

  7.  “Hear ye, goodwives & good men all!  This book, as well, is concocted by some fiddle-faddle wizardry of bat’s wool, of newt-eye, adder’s-fork, blind-worm’s sting – and worse, God wot, of ideas.  Its pages are foxed with a small magic, an eerie stain of laughter, which in these times is not in the publick interest.

      Here, good folk, is a fine cheap book for the burning. ($1.00)

      Leading alchemists have, on their blood, sworn that the aforesaid book doth burn with a goodly light, brightly and clearly.  Its pages are consumed in a trice with a quick and pretty blaze.  When the smoke has cleared there is a most satisfactory ash, at once pleasing in texture and soothing to the humours.

      Have ye been standing idly by for lack of book, envious of the richer neighbor?  Or have ye been put to great cost to procure volumes for the flame?  Have the books consumed been of heavy thickness, burning slow with trouble?

      Such tribulation, good people, is at an end.  The Pogo Papers costs but little.  Men of humble means shall not be denied the joys of conflagration.  Marry, ’tis only this book which adapts itself to modest purses.  One dollar and a penny match are all that good men need.  Then with a good will and a lighted eye can ye every heart set to!

      Join ye then, for a trifling sum, with all men of like complexion to gather round the flames which send the long and merrie shadows leaping through the land.”

    (Goosebumps on that last line.)

  8. Really happy to hear about this. Kelly was the best draftsman in the industry; his pen-and-ink work has always enthralled me as much as the stories. Breslin gets it a little wrong in that introduction, though. Joe McCarthy was not a pig (that was Krushchev, later) but a wild cat, Simple J. Malarkey.

  9. I wonder if the top strip gave Lee Marvin the idea for the bit in Hell In The Pacific where he shows/teaches Toshiro Mifune how he wants him to run out into the water and “fetch”? 

    John Boorman stated that it was Lee’s idea during the setup for the shot.


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