Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pogo Through the Wild Blue Wonder

I used a part of a Christmas gift certificate the other day to buy Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Wonder, Volume 1 of a promised 12-volume printing of every Pogo comic strip to appear in newspapers. I haven't decided if I'll buy all twelve yet; they could become mighty pricey at $40 each (plus the cost of another bookcase, since I don't have any room for any more books as it is).

I started reading with the Editors' Note, which the editors expressly did not expect anyone to read before the comics. I'm glad I started there, because they mention that Kelly's initial 1948-49 strips, drawn for the short-lived New York Star, appear in the back of the book. So, of course, the next thing I read was those early, pre-syndication comics.

A few of the characters (notably Porky Pine) hadn't achieved their ultimate form in the Star, but what really strikes one is how much stuff Walt Kelly is able to pack into every cartoon. For example, the first frame of the January 10, 1949 strip shows six characters, four of whom are talking and one of whom is loading a slingshot; plus a tree stump and a poster hanging from another tree. Three more action-packed frames follow. No daily strip would have room for such a thing these days!

After these initial comic strips, there are annotations by R. C. Harvey, which would perhaps be more useful as footnotes from within the main body of the book. I probably would not have recognized Cully and Hawgshaw as caricatures of Col. Robert McCormack (publisher of the Chicago Tribune) and William Randolph Hearst without having read all about it first. Now I'm wondering if the hog in the Jack Acid Society series I wrote about back in January might also have been Hearst, or just an evolution of the type.


  1. I always thought that Cully was Harold MacMillan and Hawgshaw was some French politician. I first read that comic as a kid back in 1958 and had never heard of McCormick or Hearst.

  2. I have to agree that Cully also resembles Prime Minister MacMillan. That Kelly mocked Col. McCormack's Anglophile airs by having Cully speak in high-falutin' flowery prose only added to the possible confusion.