The pure magic of Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” comic strip defies easy description. It appeared in newspapers around the country and galvanized thought among the thoughtful. His strange and beautiful comic strip was, in its day, “Doonesbury,” “The Simpsons,” and “The Jon Stewart Show” all rolled into one, times ten. Its satirical bite was so effective that newspapers would opt for either the innocent joke version or go for the political version of the comic strip. Has Walt Kelly been relegated to the margins? That is where many an odd genius will dwell only to be rediscovered. Thanks to Fantagraphics Books, the Pogo comic strips are getting their due.
In a wonderfully casual and upbeat panel, Mark Evanier (Groo the Wanderer) navigated through moments of levity and insight like Jeff Smith (Bone) expressing his fascination with Pogo reading it as kid; and David Silverman (The Simpsons) acknowledging the influence of Kelly, along with Ward Kimball, on his subversive style and vision. All in all, it seems that the recurring theme of the panel was that you just have to experience Pogo for yourself to truly appreciate it. If you love comic strips, particularly those that defy easy classification like Calvin & Hobbes, then you will love Pogo.
“Pogo – The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 3: ‘Evidence to the Contrary'” is the next edition of the Fantagraphics collected Pogo and is due out later this year. It collects the years 1953 thru 1954. This was just after the ban on political satire had been lifted following the Korean War. Pogo is free again to speak his mind! For more details, visit our friends at Fantagraphics Books right here.