Any story line or art that broke up the 'monotony' of the swamp was always welcome. And it had been a long time since Pogo himself put on a silly hat and acted up. We can always count on Albert though.
This is the final page of this story. As a teenager, this story inspired me to learn wash techniques, as I think it is quite effective to soften and accent otherwise stark black and white. Kelly didn't use the technique often, yet he was indeed a master with it.
It would be so tempting to have asked Kelly the question that is the bane of all good cartoonists, "where do you get all your ideas?" His plots, dialogue, and morals were so unique to him.
Many of you folks have all the Pogo books, and many of you don't, having only some, or none. To the Pogophiles who have them all, yay. To the others, I'd like to share some of Kelly's amazing tales of wonder, stories and fairy tales formatted just for the books.
All these years after my encounter and talk with Kelly, I remember how passionately he spoke of fairy tales as a bridge for the imagination. Over the years he parodied some of the standard fairy tales, but he also created them in outrageous and inventive ways. They could not be easily retold by anyone, as they were pure Kelly.
Circumstances dictate that I post the stories one page at a time, but I will try to post at least two a day. And the file names for each page will be labeled so as to facilitate collating.
This tale is from the Pogo Poop Book, a terrific assemblage of Kelly stories created in and around his Pandemonia era.
This has my vote for "Most Self-Effacing Self-Portrait Caricature" ever. And the other portrait caricatures of cartoonists are really swell. I had no idea what Reg Smythe or Irving Phillips looked like. This was drawn in 1967, the year of Pandemonia!
When I was a kid of eleven, I was clipping and keeping newspaper comics, but not obsessively. If I skipped a week or two here or there, it didn't mean anything to me. So what, I thought, comics will always be around, and new Pogo Sundays will be printed forever. Continuity? Completism? What are those things?
In short, I'm missing some pages at the early end of my Pogo Sundays. What you see below is a storyline that is 'already in progress'. But so what? We're lucky to see this much. Amidst the seven pages of the arc that you will see, there will be a couple more Sundays missing. Again, so what? The story still flows, thanks to Kelly's genius of 'running in place' with his stories.
I so want to get in Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine, and go back to have a talk with my younger self. There are many things I would tell him/me. Among other things, I would say, "be more aware, pay attention to what you think is unimportant, cuz really, ultimately those things will be important. Don't take anything for granted". And of course I'd tell him/me to go out and buy as many Action #1's that he could find.
Realize that when this Sunday strip was printed, John F. Kennedy was still alive (though only with 2 and 1/2 weeks left to his life). The world felt young and optimistic, even to a boy of 11.
Kelly never really identified with the character of Pogo. The possum was too simple, pleasant, innocent—kind of a pushover. No, Kelly saw himself in his other critters: loud, boisterous—full of ego, greed, imperfect knowledge. Well, at least that's how he played it up with publicity.
Perhaps Kelly was really most like PT Bridgeport, the consummate showman and promoter.
The drawings above appeared in Life magazine, a great venue for showcasing the strip! And we see a cultural milepost for the definitions of gay and fey.
The photo below, used in other PR, continues to promote Kelly and Albert as psychological kin.
The first autumn after my high school graduation was a heady time of freedom and trouble-making, footloose and all that stuff. But one of the headiest rushes that I had that fall, was opening a tube that was mailed to me, having been forwarded from one address to another.
It was from Walt Kelly and contained a large crayon on newsprint drawing of Pogo himself. The accompanying note from Kelly congratulated me for having come in first place in a national high school editorial cartoon contest that I was not even aware that I had entered. The next day I received official notice from the committee, and then after that I found out that my fellow journalism staff had entered my work to the competition the previous spring, without telling me.
It was very exciting that I learned of it first from Kelly, who, of course, was a supremo editorial cartoonist himself. He even recalled having met me 4 years previously. This was the portrait of Pogo that he sent:
It was a preliminary character sketch for the Crest reprint book Pogo for President and, to me, is the ultimate Pogo personality.
But he certainly didn't always look like that. Cartoon characters age and evolve over time in a parallel course with their creator's talents and skills. Below is Kelly's 1959 rendering from Ten Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Years with Pogo, showing how he seemed to remember Pogo's first appearance from 1943. But it wasn't quite accurate.
Kelly tried even earlier, in 1952, I think, to compare the original with a scant 9 years of evolution. Still not quite accurate, because even though unkempt, the rendering on the left below was a bit too cute.
Now these two images below show the TRUE first appearance of Pogo the rat, I mean Pogo the possum. The first, being his very first appearance anywhere, and the bottom image, scaring the heck out of me, looking like the possum from hell, from just a few months later. Both of these images were scanned from the Eclipse reprint series.
We can all be grateful that Kelly's talents and skills evolved.
These are some swell panels from the Cinderola story in Pogo Sunday Brunch. I know a lot of you have all the Pogo books, but maybe some of you don't. Would some of you like to see full stories like these? Please, let me know.
I spent much time as a kid trying to decipher Kelly's verse and unverse:
Many a long year ago, I was a sickly child (much later I found that Walt Kelly had been too), and spent much time in bed. There were times that I was so out of it that I drifted in and out of consciousness and had a lot of what I would call Fever Dreams. But other times I was well enough to sit up in bed with tea and muffins and COMIX!
I remember an episode where I went from the comix to a fever dream rather rapidly. I had been reading a lot of the original Plastic Man comic books by Jack Cole, and as you might expect, the resulting dreams were rather bizarre.
But more relevant to this post, I always had a handful of Pogo books to keep me company that I read over and over, as they were so comforting to my weary soul. The Pogo Sunday Brunch had this art on the cover and it was so cozy comfy with these guys sittin' up in bed, eatin' samidges and readin' comix.
Later, when I met Kelly (as recounted elsewhere) he held this very book in his hands as he talked to me about fairy tales (I had brought the book with me for him to sign). In the book is a story about Cinderola and the Fore-bears, and he kept thumbing through those pages as he discoursed on the value of 'furry tails'. This book will be with me to my dying day (along with many others of course) as a source of comfort in trying times.
My name is Thom Buchanan.
I'm an artist and photographer.
People are my favorite subjects to portray in art and photos. My wife (and studio partner) has called that my 'people skills', as I've been passionately creating portrait studies for many years.
I refer to myself as a pictorialist, a combination of image-making and journalist. Images are my life.
I AM POSTING THESE IMAGES WITH THE NOTION THAT I AM DOING SO WITH A NON-PROFIT AND EDUCATIONAL 'FAIR USE' MOTIVE, REGARDING RESPECTIVE COPYRIGHTS. ANYONE DOWNLOADING AND USING THESE IMAGES FOR ANY COMMERCIAL USE WOULD BE IN VIOLATION OF RESPECTIVE COPYRIGHTS, AND DOES NOT HAVE MY APPROVAL FOR SUCH USE. PLEASE SHARE IN EDUCATION AND DON'T TRY TO MAKE MONEY FROM IT WITHOUT PROPER AUTHORITY.