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The Complete POGO


Great news for fans of Walt Kelly (like me). Fantagraphics Books has acquired the rights to publish a comprehensive series of Walt Kelly’s classic POGO comic strip. The first volume will appear in October, 2007, and the series will run approximately 12 volumes.

Kelly joined the Walt Disney Studio in 1935, where he worked on numerous shorts and features, including Pinocchio, Dumbo, and The Reluctant Dragon. Kelly left Disney in 1941, moved back east and began drawing comic books for Western Publishing (Dell comics). It was during this time that Kelly created the character Pogo Possum for Dell’s Animal Comics (as a supporting player in the Albert the Alligator stories). In 1949, the Hall Syndicate started distrbuting Pogo as a comic strip to newspapers in the United States.

Each Fantagraphics Pogo volume will be designed by Jeff Smith (Bone). This continues Fantagraphics teriffic series of hardbound comic strip collections – which already include Schulz’ Peanuts, Ketchum’s Dennis the Menace and Segar’s Popeye. For more information, check the Fantagraphics website.

  • Wow, that’s great news – especially for a Kelly fanatic like myself.

  • That’s a relief. The volumes of the first run are pretty pricey when you can find them. Now all we need is The Complete Heathcliff. Or maybe not.

  • Paul

    I hope the format of the books is larger than the “Peanuts” ones were/are. With the detail that Kelly packed into the strip, the reprints will need to be bigger than the ones in the “Peanuts” books to really do them justice.

  • This looks awesome! I’ve been meaning to get into Pogo for years, and thanks to this new series, I’ll be able to! Thanks for alerting us, Jerry!

  • droosan

    Here’s hoping POGO fares better in this format, than in the 11-volume paperback series which Fantagraphics apparently has abandoned. Too bad they’re starting over, rather than picking up where they’d left off (as they did with Eclipse’s KRAZY KAT Sundays series) .. but I guess it’s worth it, to get the POGO Sundays, as well ..!

  • I am so happy about this I can’t contain myself!! I can’t wait until they get to the 60’s!!! My favorite era of the strip!!! And the least covered by the book collections!
    I will hereby forever mark time by when the new Pogo book is going to come out!

  • Great news! I never got to know the earlier Pogo stories, I followed the strip when it was published in the early 90s.
    I love Walt Kelly’s style!

  • O, Joy, O, Bliss !

    I think with Jeff Smith in charge it’ll be a quality job . I’ve purchased all of the paperback Fantagraphics Pogo reprints published so far , but am glad to hear that they will be giving Mr. Kelly the Ever-Lovin’, Blue-eyed 1st Class A-#1 treatment he deserves , a la the Schulz hardback reprints designed by Seth. I hope they can match the printing quality of the Simon & Schuster Pogo reprints from the 50’s and 60’s. Right now I’m looking at my copy of The Pogo Stepmother Goose from 1954 and other than a bit of yellowing to the paper the drawings really pop off the page, sharp and clear. Can’t wait to see Kelly’s Sunday pages!

    (And as Paul pointed out above, I certainly hope they format them larger than the Peanuts and Dennis the Menace volumes so Kelly’s detailed drawings are shown off to best advantage.)

  • This is great news. I’ve been so impressed by Fantagraphic’s collections and I bet this one will be just as good!

  • Charles Brubaker

    That’s great.

    Now if only Fantagraphic starts collecting James Childress’s “Conchy.” That strip is in the “cult” status, so I think it can be marketable.

  • I hope this new series uses the proofs and photostats saved by the Kelly estate rather than—like Fantagraphics’ earlier collections—reproducing the strips from newspaper reproductions. The quality was unnecessarily muddy there when it could have been razor-sharp.

  • joecab

    Thank goodness. The original volumes that Fantagraphics released had the UGLIEST damn covers you ever saw. I just hope they stick it out to the end this time and print all of them.

  • Joe Suggs

    Please, please, please do this right, guys!!! If you do them the size of the “Peanuts” books, with black and white Sundays mixed in with the dailies, it’ll be only slightly less of an injustice than leaving them uncollected. Ideally, they should be seen a little larger than the original newspapers printed them (the size of the recent Fantagraphic books was o.k., but as someone said above, the clarity could be much better), and the Sundays should be kept separate- and in COLOR. And NOT MODERN RECOLORING WITH HIDEOUS FAKE AIRBRUSH EFFECTS! We’ll pay for nicer books!

    The earliest years of POGO have now been collected several times, but nobody gets past early 1954. If you do this and do it wrong, you will be doing “Pogo” and Kelly an injustice rather than a service and killing the chance that I will ever have decent complete copies of Kelly’s strip on my shelves in my lifetime- something I’ve wanted since I was five or six.

    Please talk to Denis Kitchen- he knows how to do these things right- see his incomplete but brilliant “Li’l Abner” series. I’ll be happy to make my originals available and I’m sure others will as well.

  • This looks promising. The only thing I know about Pogo is that it’s one of the favorite comics of Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, and it’s a fairly political comic. Can’t wait for this

  • Joe Suggs

    The political aspects of “Pogo” are VASTLY overrated. It became a predominantly political strip in the late sixties and seventies, in its final throes- before that it was fairly seldom and fairly indirect, with just stray comments on civil rights or school desegregation, and a few passing characters that were caricatures of Kruschev and Castro, etc., and of course the Bolshevik crows. Before that, in the fifties, it was mainly just one very deservedly famous story satirizing Joe McCarthy. I’d say politics made up 5% of the subject matter in the fifties and 10-15% in the sixties.

    “Pogo” should not be thought of as a piece of political or social commentary- that actually trivializes what it really was. It was beautifully illustrated nonsense verse, in the tradition of Lewis Carroll (if Lewis Carroll and John Tenniel had been one man), but it was so strikingly original and personal that it can’t (and shouldn’t) be put it in a nutshell.

    I think people have over-emphasized the political aspects of “Pogo” over the years as a way to reach for some level of importance that they feel a comic strip doesn’t usually merit. But once you read “Pogo”, it doesn’t need any credentials-boost. If you haven’t seen it up until now, I envy you.

  • chuckfiala

    I think the political commentary in Pogo is central to the strip’s character. The very humanist feelings in the interaction of the characters are what made the strip special. I believe this was a political statement. The strip celebrated peace, never war. Walt Kelly always insisted on giving us a taste of how good life could be, if we aimed our hearts in the right direction.

  • Joe Suggs

    The political stuff and the environmental stuff in the last years is definitely my least favorite aspect of the strip, as much as I do admire some of it, especially the drawing, which was great right to the end.

    Besides the beautiful drawing and the great use of the language (Kelly’s poetry deserves its own collection), my favorite type of story material in the strip is in things like the poetry contest, Porky collecting his “thousand pardons” one at a time from the bug who thought he was a “Hawaiian hedgehog”, the three bats losing their pants, and parodies like “Li’l Arf an’ Nonny”, “Cinderola”, and the Mucky Spleen story. I love all the great slapstick drawing- especially in the first five years- and as much as I love it all, I wish Kelly was remembered for those things too, and not just for caricaturing Lyndon Johnson and for “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

    Anyway, if this series follows through, people can make up their own minds about what made Kelly and “Pogo” great.

  • Great news! Now, will they be reprinting some of his other work? I’d love to see bits such as “The Town at the Edge of the End” make it into new anthologies.

  • Kris Puri

    Did Pogo have any super powers?

  • Joe Suggs

    Pogo, like the Shadow, has the power to cloud men’s minds. After thirty-five years of reading the strip, I’m completely unable to call Sr. Reyes’ seventh period Spanish class in 1977/78, or the mysterious figure known only as “Ramon”.

  • So, where’s Pogo? I thought volume one was supposed to come out in October.

  • Just wanted to mention that, according to Mark Evanier (who ought to know), this is finally, actually, happening. Should be in our hands by end of year.