Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wicked Wizard

I'm very sad that we don't have issue #25 of The Adventures of Peter Wheat to share with you at this time, to keep our sequence complete. I was hoping that the comix elves would have taken pity on us poor mortals and materialized a full set of scans.

But the gatekeeper of the realm, OtherEric, has tracked down a bit of material to keep us informed enough to keep moving ahead.

Take it from here, OtherEric:

For an issue that we don't have, we can actually say a surprisingly large amount about this issue. To quote the long-ago auction listing where we found the two low-res pages we have:

"The Fairy Queen is captured by the Wizard; the story contains a cloak of invisibility, flying boots, shape-changing powder, Ooglie-Booglies (scary Goblins), lions, the Bird of Wonderwood, etc. Walt Kelly pulled out all the stops in this issue which is notable for the unusual, great FULL-PAGE PANEL highlighting Kelly's superb rendition of fairies and trees (he was the master of the latter)."

And from the next issue, #26, we can know the cliffhanger for this issue, that it ends with the Fairy Queen captured by the Wizard and his goblin allies, and Peter is turned into a toad!

Two points of note: the character design changes on the Fairy Queen and Durrock. The theory I've heard is that Kelly didn't have reference for them when he moved onto this issue from the last. The colorist doesn't help matters, but it doesn't hurt too much now and it probably mattered far less back when kids had a month between last issue and this one.

And as I mentioned, Kelly is starting to do different things to play with scale; using a full page panel to show the tree in relation to the small characters. Even in the reduced size or the redrawn-by-somebody-else version from the coloring book, we can see just how gorgeous this page must be. I really hope I (or another scanner) can find this issue sooner rather than later. And how many of you thought my comment about Kelly playing with scale in #25—#29 was a typo, since I said we didn't have that issue? :-)

Above and below, tantalizing low-res glimpses of issue #25

The redrawn-by-somebody-else coloring book page

Thom: It's not too late if someone wants to take pity on us poor mortals and share a set of scans of #25. We have a full week until we're scheduled to show #26, and I would be thrilled to bump that back in order to insert #25.

Anybody? A friend of a friend? Comix elves?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mozart Von Hinkerdump's Sonata

No matter how busy I am, I try to post Pogo Sundays on Sunday, cuz that's when Pogo Sundays ought to be.

Happy Sunday, Kelly Sunday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Peter Wheat and the Fairy Queen

Once again we are indebted to OtherEric of the Digital Comic Museum for another beautiful and rare installment of Walt Kelly's run on The Adventures of Peter Wheat, this being issue #24, the first of a several part storyline.

Kelly's entire oeuvre really seems to be one big fairy tale world, and here we actually step into Fairy Land for a bit, continuing to see a variety of his mythical characterizations.

Stay 'tooned at the end for comments from OtherEric.

Post-issue comments from OtherEric:

A minor technical note: This is the only issue of Adventures I've seen that was stapled, not glued, at the spine. Again, not bad, just odd—I may be the only person who cares. This starts the "Peter Wheat and the Fairy Queen" storyline that runs for four issues (if anybody has a better idea for a title for the arc, let me know, a naming expert I'm not). While it's not quite on the scale of, say, the Monster Society of Evil, 64 pages is LONG for a comic book story back in the 40s or 50s. And this issue starts the story in somewhat subdued fashion with a mystery.

I think the colorist may not be doing the story great favors by making the door in the tree obvious, but I do think it shows the colorist is at least paying attention to the story.

Kelly's faun is an absolute delight—the range of expressions on him and all the characters throughout this storyline is just amazing. I love how he goes from happy to worried to "this isn't fun anymore, somebody got hurt." Just wonderfully expressive.

I suspect editorial interference with the large number of captions. They're not unknown in Peter Wheat stories, but they're not common, and several here are quite redundant. I suspect there were one or two bits where the action was felt to be unclear—what the marshmallow sauce was, and possibly Peter's state after the fall—and then somebody went overboard clarifying the sequence. None of this really gets in the way of the story, though. Peter's look when he wakes up is priceless, and the Fairy Queen is just beautiful.

On that note, next time we'll move on to tell you what little we know about issue #25.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Captain Freeze Icepot's Discovery

Yes! Here we are again—at Sunday, Kelly Sunday.

Good golly, Kelly was unique in his tomfoolery. Perhaps the FBI was correct in thinking that Kelly was communicating in code. Question is, to whom and why wherefore whem?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Peter and His Friends Are Hard at Work

As promised, we're presenting more Adventures of Peter Wheat that are rare and rarified, thanks again and always to OtherEric of the Digital Comic Museum, starting here with issue #23. OtherEric has been working diligently to gather chapters of Walt Kelly's fairy tale masterpiece, and it is a long and arduous task—haunting auctions, scraping enough money together, puzzling out the where, when, and why.

He has come up with some wonderful issues that have rarely been seen by Kelly fans—but they're such a special part of a storyline that we felt we needed some context for them, so we're going to include a couple of chapters that some of you may have seen, but have been rescanned and cleaned up a bit.

Unfortunately, we're missing a chapter of the story that we'll just have to jump over, like the big boys and girls that we are.

UNLESS . . . if anybody within the sound of this blog has access to The Adventures of Peter Wheat #25 (that's number Twenty-Five), we would love to hear from you right away, please. We'd like to borrow scans, or we'd be willing to purchase the issue, if a reasonable price.

Really, we'd love to see this continuity unbroken if possible. If you can help us, Kelly fans everywhere will bow down before you. Either way, we'll move ahead in the weeks to come and present most of a run of Kelly's delightful fantasy adventure!

Now some words from OtherEric:

I recently won issues #24 and #27 of Adventures of Peter Wheat on eBay, and Thom has once again generously agreed to let me debut them at Whirled of Kelly before I release the cbz files elsewhere.

Since the issues are the first and last chapters of a storyline, posting the #26 as well seemed obvious (sadly, I don't have a copy of #25). After some discussion, we decided to go ahead and post everything we have of issues #23 through #29; even with one missing issue, it's the most solid block of Kelly's Peter Wheat stories available so far.

I'll have some comments on the issues after we post them, but one thing I will suggest looking for ahead of time is how Kelly plays with scale in the art on the #25—#29. It's fascinating, and I'll elaborate as we go along. But first just enjoy the #23:


I don't have that much to say about this issue. The opening caption makes me really want to see what happened in #22, but I want to see all the issues, so that's hardly surprising. The lettering is odd on this issue. Not bad, just odd. (It looks possibly like Leroy Lettering, that semi-mechanical process of the time—Thom)

It's fun seeing Kelly draw a Turtle and a Mole; they're not quite identical to their cousins in Pogo, but he's definitely figuring out the general look. And I call your attention to the ad on the back cover—why don't we see Peter riding a miniature Pegasus in the comic itself?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Convenient - Friendly - Thrifty - Fresher

I'm swamped, swamped I tell ya, with another deadline that's killin' me for the next two weeks. But even though I have to spread posts out more than I'd like, I wanted you to know that we have a very special run of Kelly material coming up, all about a little guy outstanding in his field . . . um, yeah, his wheat field (I think I used that joke before, and I'm pretty sure I'll use it again).

I'm not kiddin' — great stuff comin' up!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I See My Doody an' I Dood It

Here it is Sunday, and you know that on Sunday I like to post up a Pogo Sunday, cuz Sunday just don't seem right without a Sunday Pogo.

BUT, this week there tain't no color at all, and that's alright, cuz this is a special original Sunday drawing, from Kelly's prime time period of 1953. This detailed scan was sent over from Holland by a new friend, Gerben Valkema—a cartoonist of delightful work, who credits Kelly as an influence, having this art hanging over his drawing board!

I am especially delighted to see this artwork, because it just so happens that it's from my favorite sequence of Kelly's—with elf-like human beans, the Fountain of Youth, and some of the lushest brushwork to come out of the Okefenokee. This is from the fabulous arc reprinted in Pogo's Sunday Punch. I recommend that those of you who have that book to get it out and compare the panels to this strip and you'll see that, as is usual for the books, some of the Sunday panels were edited out—such as this one:

As I told Gerben, Pogo's Sunday Punch is one of the books that I had with me when I met Kelly, and I opened it to this page when we talked about the fairy tale aspect of Pogo. It was the page with this artwork that he held open as he refreshed his memory.

And now we can get close-up to see Kelly's lush brush, layered over his spontaneous blue penciling, and marvel at his comic art genius.

Thanks Gerben! What a treat!

Happy Sunday, Kelly Sunday!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

While Searching for a Monster

When I was an older teenager, I had two recurring dreams, both of them lucid and with great detail. One was that I would find treasure, jewels and coins, at various times and places, feeling that my money troubles were over. I'm pretty sure that was triggered by my family's near poverty level when I was younger, aided by my constant rereading of Carl Bark's Uncle Scrooge comics.

The other dream was more precious to me—that I would discover new work by Walt Kelly that I had never seen before. By the time I had these dreams, I, bit by bit, had collected what I felt was the entire output of work by Kelly, and I was hungry for more. The dream was delicious, as I remember seeing details of the art and, for even a few moments after waking up, I actually felt that I had something new of Kelly's.

Well, thanks to OtherEric of the Digital Comic Museum, with his fervor for collecting the seemingly long lost ephemera of Kelly's The Adventures of Peter Wheat, a dream has come true for me and hopefully many of you.

OtherEric is on a mission to track down all the elusive chapters of Kelly's epic fairy tale, and has of late assembled some of its finest examples.

I'll let OtherEric take it from here:

The Adventures of Peter Wheat, while decidedly scarce, is not an impossibly rare book to find. I've put together nearly half the run in about two years, and seen somewhere between a third to a half of the issues that I don't have show up for sale, even if I missed them at auction.

But Kelly also did original stories for Peter Wheat News, as I discussed back in the Peter Wheat publishing history post. And THAT series is so rare I honestly wonder if all the issues still exist, at least in complete form. When I started looking for Peter Wheat, I found two issues of News at an online comic shop that could have been there for a day or a decade before I grabbed them—19 and 43. It's worth noting that the two sources that listed the series disagreed on how long the title ran—one said 30 issues, another said 36.

In the past two years, I've seen exactly ONE complete issue come up for sale, #61. I didn't win that one, but the seller kindly sent me good scans of the book, so at least it's available to people. But at this point, the series is so rare that nobody knows exactly how long it ran or how many issues Kelly did! The best guess at this moment is #36, and Hubbard did #43, so it's definitely no later than #42.

I recently won an incomplete issue on eBay—only the comic pages. This is the first time I've seen an incomplete issue show up. Including both complete and incomplete copies, it makes all of four issues I've seen in two years even show up for sale.

What we are showing on this post is the middle part of a story, so it has to be issue 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 23, 26, 29, 32, or 35. Numbers 38 and 41 are theoretically possible, but unlikely. It can't be 20, because it doesn't follow the cliffhanger from 19. Whatever issue it is, it's four pages of exceptionally rare Kelly material. I hope you forgive the lack of a start or end to the story and just enjoy what we do have:

Thom again: In the interest of full disclosure, I edited out some paper creases from these pages that I thought were distracting. We've got more wonderful Peter Wheat stuff coming up. Keep coming back, and please let us know what you think!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Been Workin' Here Quite a Spell

I hope The Whirled of Kelly is a happy place for you. I'm certainly enjoying it.

Several years ago, I felt I'd grown bored of the Okefenokee, and I was preparing to divest myself of the collection—books, strips and all. But I started scanning a few of my favorite pieces for keepsakes, when I realized I had QUITE a few favorites and wasn't going to be able to do it easily.

And then I started examining the scans close-up and realized I hadn't looked closely at Kelly's work since I was a kid. Back then, I'd snuggle close to the books and microscopically enjoy each ink line. As I grew older I'd look at it all quickly and not take the time to savor Kelly's whirled.

Now, with the scans, I saw details that brought me right into the artwork again. And when I started sharing the scans on the blogs, I saw them through visitor's eyes, fresh and new. I now believe that even if and when the reprint series finally fills our shelves, I will want to continue savoring the artwork on the large computer screen, to immerse myself into Kelly's artwork.

All of what I'm saying is a preamble to a request that I'm making to all fans of Kelly.

I'm requesting that those of you who have Pogo strips in your collection will consider sharing high-res scans of them through this site—especially Sunday strips from the 1950s. Some of you might own only one or two or maybe dozens, scattered through disconnected dates. My personal collection began in 1963, and even in that year were only intermittently saved.

When I was starting the Pogo in Pandemonia blog, I heard from several fans willing to share strips from that era, though I had most of that material already. Thank you to those that had material that supplemented mine. It was a pretty thorough romp through one of the best years of comic strip history.

So, there must be some great collections out there that include the glorious Sunday strips of the 50s. We've seen some of that material repackaged in the black and white reprint books. But that stuff was heavily edited and abridged, and somehow lost a bit of the charm of newsprint and ben-day dots.

So, please email me if you have such material and see if we can work something out. I will give credit where credit is due, and our built-in audience of Kelly fans will thank you as well.

We still have lots of stuff from my collection yet to come. And the very next post will begin a set of outrageously wonderful Kelly material being shared with us by OtherEric, our venerable Kelly agent, outstanding in his field—the wheat field!

. . . meanwhile, back at the swamp . . .

A Sunday strip from the 50s, scanned from the Ten Ever-lovin' Blue-Eyed Years with Pogo volume. Charming, but could be oh so much more so with color!

See ya in the funnies!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Very Well Then, Alone!

And with this strip, we conclude the Mythillogical Beasts arc that, as you have seen, morphed from one story line to another and from some gosh-awful coloration back to near-norm.

This arc has been funny and fun, but it's time to step aside from Pogo for a bit and see more of the rest of Kelly's whirled. Come back in a few days for the beginning of some really special Kelly material. And actually before then I will be posting a request, so, you know, see you later.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Eh? Wot? Speak Up!

Some folks are having a hard time being heard on this blog. Somehow the comment gizmo is not kerflunkterating properly. If you are having this problem, please email me and let me know so I can somehow whine about it. . . I mean fix it. Thanx.