Books

Pogo the Possum's 'Through the Wild Blue Wonder'

I go, you go, we all go Pogo.


Publisher: Fantagraphics
Contributors: Carolyn Kelly, Kim Thompson (Editors), Steve Thompson (Introduction), Jimmy Breslin (Foreward)
Price: $39.99
Writer: Walt Kelly
Length: 360 pages
Graphic Novel: Pogo "Through the Wild Blue Wonder": The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Volume 1
Publication date: 2011-12

Walt Kelly's Pogo, a daily newspaper strip that ran from 1948 to 1975, is justifiably hailed as one of the great achievements of the postwar comic strip. In theory, it belongs to the "funny animal" genre; in practice, it was a personal, whimsical combination of comedy and mood, dressed in linguistic wordplay and laced with sociopolitical satire. As such, it bears some affinity to George Herriman's Krazy Kat and Tove Jansson's Moomin, but with more of an edge. It was Kelly, through Pogo, who coined the famous parody phrase "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Pogo is a possum who lives in Okefenokee Swamp and plays straight man to a wacky gallery of varmints, including the vain, delusional, quick-tempered, unscrupulous yet blessedly naive Albert Alligator (combining the worst qualities of both Abbott & Costello); the good-natured turtle Churchy LaFemme, who loves singing songs like the immortal Christmas carol "Deck Us All With Boston Charlie"; the gruff and backwards Porkypine, who pines (as it were) for love of the svelte French skunk Miz Hepzibah; the bespectacled pseudo-intellectual Howland Owl; and a dizzying array of others. Although Kelly was a Yankee, his characters pursued their delicate misunderstandings and pratfalling nonsense while babbling in demented mock-Southern Li'l Abner-ese, sometimes in heavily decorated dialogue balloons (especially for bear-empresario P.T. Bridgeport and buzzard-mortician Sarcophagus Macabre).

I'm irrational on the subject because it holds a special place in my heart and childhood. Pogo was my dad's favorite comic, and the family story was told many times of how he retired in San Antonio, Texas, and subscribed to the particular local paper (out of three) that carried the strip.

When it was allegedly dropped because of Kelly's parodies of LBJ (a Texan, you know), my father cancelled his subscription in protest. So I never saw Pogo in the funny papers, but I knew him from once ubiquitous paperback collections of his strip and his comic books, and I spent hours in helpless laughter over these, grasping as much as I could understand.

I'll never forget the comic book tales "Gore Blimey" (a hardboiled detective parody) and "Suffern on the Steppes" (a parody of Tolstoy, for gosh sakes). Those collections are long out of print, and Pogo is in danger of being unknown by a younger generations of comics fans.

But not for long. This wonderful first volume of a projected 12-volume series contains the strip's first two official years (plus its early pre-syndication stint in a single New York paper), with the Sundays reproduced in color, and with Kelly's topical references annotated by scholar R.C. Harvey. (Fantagraphics issued several volumes of dailies in the '90s, but now they're doing it comprehensively.)

I salute this launch and hope that it leads to complete reprints of the comic book adventures, as well.

9


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.