Walt Kelly: Comic Book Cartoon Character Pogo Possum and the Okefenokee swamp Characters

Pogo Comic Strip

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It is believed that it is ok to use this work in a scaled down version to accompany critical commentary on the subject..No free images seem to be available | Source

Pogo Humor

The Pogo comic strip was a favorite of mine, especially in high school and college years although some of my classmates thought I should grow up and quit reading comics. Pogo, could be read as an ordinary comic by children, or a vehicle for social and political satire.. Satirists in the past often wrote books that still appeal to children but could be read on a more sophisticated level.

According to Wikipedia “Pogo combined sophisticated wit and slapstick physical comedy in a heady mix of allegory, Irish poetry, literary whimsy, puns and wordplay, lushly detailed artwork, irresistible characters and broad burlesque humor.”

Kelley had some obvious influences, such as P.T. Barnum and Al Capp Kelly had a lifetime association with fellow cartoonists Milton Caniff (Terry and the Pirates, Steve Canyon) as well as Al Capp (Lil’ Abner.)

. There is something about the non-sense dialogue and verse that strikes me as coming from Lewis Carroll. To me Pogo has a very close resemblance to Lewis Carroll and I find he was an admirer of Lewis Carroll.

Another similarity is the setting. In the Alice books, Alice is the normal person running into all sorts of characters who are not normal, in fact, defy normality. Much the same for the Pogo character.

Authors note

The primary source of information for this hub is Wikipeidia and my own memory.

Pogo Possum is friendly, humble and philosophical. He likes a simple life and tries to avoid trouble.

Albert Alligator is exuberant, dimwitted, irascible and egotistical. He often stumbles into trouble.

In addition there are a number of other animal characters that play a variety of roles, each with an individual personality and eccentricities.

Kelly’s Background


Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr. was born in Philadelphia August 25,1913. His family moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut. At the age of 22 he went to California to work on Donald Duck cartoons for Disney Studios, from 1935 until the 1941 strike. In that time he did animation on Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and The Reluctant Dragon . He then went to work for Dell Comics.

Between high school and Disney he got a job as a crime reporter for the Bridgeport Post.” When he took up cartooning he illustrated a biography of P.T. Barnum who was a Bridgeport, Connecticut native. A character like him and symbols show in Pogo at times. He was proud of his newspaper background.

For the first issue of Animal Comics he did a story titled “Albert takes the Cake.” Pogo the Possum and Albert the alligator were created at that time. They were supposed to be comic foils for a black boy named Bumbazine but this character was dropped because Kelly did not feel comfortable with writing dialog for a human child. Pogo became the straight man and lead character.

Okefenokee Swamp where Pogo and friends live

A markerokefenokee swamp. georgia -
Okefenokee Swamp, Folkston, GA, USA
[get directions]

Setting

The location of the stories is in the Georgia section of the Okefenokee Swamp.

“The Predominant vernacular in Pogo sometimes referred to as ‘swamp-speak’ is essentially a rural southern U.S. dialect laced with non-stop malapropisms, fractured grammar, ‘creative’ spelling and mangled polysyllables such as ‘incrdibobble,’ and ‘hysteriwockle.’” According Wikipedia.

Earth Day Poster

Earth Day 1972

Even people who have not read Pogo comics seem to know the phrase “We have met the enemy and He is Us.”

When somebody asked me where it came from I didn’t know. As it happens it was on a 1972 poster for Earth Day. At that time I didn’t know there was more Pogo that I hadn’t read.

Satire and politics

 

Kelly portrayed Pogo as a reluctant presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956. In 1960 he commented on JFK’s relative youth by portraying an egg with two webbed feet as a candidate. Kelly claimed to be against all extremes-Left, Right and Middle. He helped campaign for voter registration with the slogan “Pogo says: If you can’t vote my way, vote anyway, but VOTE!”

 He caricatured Senator Joseph McCarthy as a wildcat named “Simple J. Malarky.”

In the 1960’s Fidel Castro appeared as an alligator goat named “Fido” Nikta Krushev appeared as both a bear and a pig.

He had a feline reporter from “Newslife” whose name was “Typo” and resembled Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller. By the 1968 presidential campaign he portrayed George Romney, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, George Wallace and Robert F. Kennedy as wind up toys. Eugene McCarthy as a white knight tied backwards to his horse 

LBJ was portrayed as a befuddled longhorn steer with cowboy boots. At a previous time he had been portrayed as half man –half horse with a cowboy hat and referred to as “The Loan Arranger.”

In the 1970’s Kelly mocked the Nixon administration with Bulldog characters, He also caricatured J. Edgar Hoover, Spiro Agnew, and John Mitchell. Hoover may have taken it all too seriously. According to FBI documents Hoover suspected Kelly of sending coded messages in his nonsense poetry and southern accents in the strips.

The Bunny Strips


 His satire and political content drew criticism from supporters of those he spoofed. A number of papers wanted to drop his comic strip, so when Kelly had a controversial story line he would write an alternate version that he called” bunny strips” because they were populated with the least offensive material he could come up with, often little bunnies telling jokes. However he often did a subtle rework of the original material which some papers published both versions.

Kelly died in 1973 from complications of diabetes.

Were you a Pogo fan or ever read Pogo?

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Comments 47 comments

nicomp profile image

nicomp 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

I was a fan. Makes Gary Trudeau look like a piker.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for being the first to comment.I never quite got Trudeau.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

Pogo was quite funny. Great write-up on the author.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for the comment. The only problem is that here is so much to say that to give it justice it would not fit in the format of a hub.


creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thank you for an interesting hub, thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thank you for visiting and commenting.


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

dahoglund,

I was a fan of the old time comics like Pogo. These comics today have something lacking like imagination and fun!!!!!!!!!!!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for commenting Tom. The only problem I have with reading my old Pogo books is that the references are not current and don't have the same impact. A problem with satire, I imagine


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

I miss Pogo. there are very few really intelligent comic strips left. We've lost the Peanuts, The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbs and most of the smart ones.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Great article. Thanks for sharing.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Robwrite

I agree. I hardly look at the comics anymore.Pogo I hardly ever saw in the paper though. I mostly bought the books.I appreciate your comments.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Dallas

Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.


Wealthmadehealthy profile image

Wealthmadehealthy 6 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

WOW I used to read Pogo all the time. It was hilarious to me, even tho yes, it was political...Thank you for all the history on him...I loved this hub!!!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thank you very much. I am glad you found this enjoyable.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Nice research.

Pogo belongs to the days of the Sunday cartoon strips. Nowadays you are lucky to get three strips in a Sunday newspaper. I also remember the westerns like Rick O'Shay. Even the name sounded like a bullet hitting a rock or a wall.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I don't recall Rick O'Shay but it sound familiar.I know my grandchildren watch numerous cartoons on TV. I don't care fro most of them but tastes do change.Thanks or commenting,


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

You are welcome.

I don't believe Rick O'Shay was ever on television as a cartoon. I only ever saw the comic strips. I think Rick O'Shay got canceled some time in the 1970s.

Doonesbury was a strip similar to Pogo in that it had little political asides and got people to thinking as well as smiling and even laughing. I remember one time there was a nice send up of the Lone Ranger on Doonesbury. It had something to do with prices at a check-out counter at a supermarket. A silver bullet was involved but no masked man.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Doonebury never quite caught my interest. Now I am more likely to read Dilbert. I only get exposed to TV cartoons when I am with my grandchildren. I should see if The Roadrunner is still around-that was great.


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Dilbert can be fun. Doonesbury had a lot of college and Uni humor attached to it and a lot of cross cultural references.

I thought you would remember Rick O'Shay because you are big on westerns.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I did a quick search for it. It does not seem familiar. However, I really like the graphics. It is possible it was not run in our newspapers. Thanks again for your input.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

I really enjoyed this hub I have used the Pogo - Enemy Within comic and its relevance in many psych and trading pieces over the year. It has never been said better IMHO


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for a complimentary comment. I realized when doing this hub that there are a lot of Pogo books that I was unaware of. By and large I don't think he was much published where we lived and I mostly read the books.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas

Love Pogo! I was raised on Pogo and Charles Addams' cartoons - which explains a lot! ;D


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

I am familiar with that Enemy within quote but did not know where it had originated. Nice job on this hub. I see you have Ebay ads in this. When I first signed up to hubpages and tried to get Ebay, I was turned down. Never tried again. Might give it another try now and see what happens. Wish I was smarter about all of this stuff! There is a hubcamp coming to Houston next March and I am planning to attend. Hopefully I'll learn more about the technical aspects of writing. Too bad we can't sit side by side and learn from one another!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Justmesusanne,

I used to Watch the Addams family TV show.A friend of mine tried to read Pogo to his kids and grand kids and was disappointed that they did not respond to it. Trouble is that political humor is rather related to the times.Thanks for commenting.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Peggy W,

Thanks for commenting. I don't know why you would have had trouble with ebay.However, I am not sure I have them set up right as far as codes and such.I used to sell used books on Ebay so that might have had some influence. I would suggest you try again and if it doesn't work inquire as to why.

Hubcamp sounds interesting. Unlikely it would get here. Maybe Minneapolis. Most of my family is there. My son and his family have also moved back to the Twin Cites area, although they stayed in Wisconsin by moving to the border.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Will give Ebay another try! Thanks!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Good luck.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

I was a fan. And Pogo made one of my favorite comments/observations oh so many years ago: we have seen the enemy and he is us.

Thanks for the hub. Rated up of course!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for commenting. I am glad to find so many people that share my taste in Pogo.


Surfer Joe 6 years ago

I am a huge lifelong fan, since I was a tiny kid. I was only eight when Kelly died but I remember the day well. After college I moved to Los Angeles and became an animator because Kelly and Hank Ketcham had been animators, and I wanted to learn to draw the same way they had. Three Kelly originals hang on my walls- a Sunday from 1954, a daily from 1949, and a poem page from a 1965 book.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Although my father was a cartoonist he never had the success you do. Thank you for contributing your experience.


syoungkc 5 years ago

I always loved the 45rpm sampler.

I still love to confuse the kids/grand-kids with the nonsence lyrics. Go, Pogo!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for reading and commenting. I used to have the Pogo songbook and the LP record but they got lost along the way.


crstl 5 years ago

I've always loved Pogo. Jeff Smith is highly influenced by Kelly. I would recommend Bone.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.


TroyM profile image

TroyM 5 years ago

Pogo was quite funny.Thanks for sharing... Great!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoyed the article.


headacres 4 years ago

i've got the best of pogo book bought in 1982. wonder how he got his name,named my cocapoo pogo-similar face-


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I hadn't really thought about the name.Thanks for reading my article and leaving a comment.


ninmegiste 3 years ago

Best of the Best!

Best

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dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thank you for commenting on the Pogo hub.


C McNairy Wight 1 profile image

C McNairy Wight 1 11 months ago from Provo, Utah

I was a fan. I looked this up to see if anyone had written about it.Alas!, you already had. I could add the words to Deck the Halls. My brother and I used to sing it.Deck us all with Boston Charlie,

Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!

Nora's freezin' on the trolley,

Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don't we know archaic barrel

Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?

Trolley Molly don't love Harold,

Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,

Polly wolly cracker 'n' too-da-loo!

Donkey Bonny brays a carol,

Antelope Cantaloupe, 'lope with you!

Hunky Dory's pop is lolly,

Gaggin' on the wagon, Willy, folly go through!

Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,

Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!

Dunk us all in bowls of barley,

Hinky dinky dink an' polly voo!

Chilly Filly's name is Chollie,

Chollie Filly's jolly chilly view halloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,

Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!

Tizzy seas on melon collie!

Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 11 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for commenting and providing the Pogo poem. Despite the fact I wrote this hub you could still write one of your own.


C McNairy Wight 1 profile image

C McNairy Wight 1 11 months ago from Provo, Utah

Maybe I could do a different take on it. Try singing the poem to Deck the Halls.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 11 months ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

At one time I had a book and record "Songs of the Pogo" These are now lost but you can find them on youtube.. It occurs to me that you might want to use it as a hub you could write on Walt Kelly.


C McNairy Wight 1 profile image

C McNairy Wight 1 11 months ago from Provo, Utah

Thanks, I will check it out.

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