Here’s a little added-bonus to the recent post about Walt Kelly’s self-animated Pogo short.. Before he began animating, Walt Kelly laid out a complete storyboard of his planned Pogo special. He then made a Leica reel and recorded his voice over it.

Of course, there is a lot more here then what ended up in the final short. Because of his poor health, he had to leave out a great deal of material. Sadly, it makes the final piece feel unfinished.  Albert’s hallucination sequence especially would have been marvelous to see fleshed out in animation. Fortunately, not all of his hard work went to waste. His storyboard for this special laid the foundation for his final Pogo book, Pogo: We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us.

As much as I love seeing Kelly’s animation, watching and listening to the storyboard is a much more enjoyable experience. His storyboard panels have as much time and care put into them as his comics, with full color, fleshed-out poses and backgrounds. Each panel is expertly laid out, making every action clear and easy to read.

But I think the most enjoyable aspect is Kelly’s mostly ad-libbed narration. You can tell what kind of person he was just by his vocal delivery. At times he’s full of bravado, belting out lines in a bombastic tone. Other times he can be soft-spoken, sincere and passionately poetic. And sometimes he makes absolutely no sense at all, talking in almost complete gibberish, fumbling over words and mumbling nonsensical sounds. Most of all, what stands out is his unparalleled wit, which is on display throughout the entire 25-minute presentation. I especially love his impromptu descriptions of scene transitions and camera movements.

With this storyboard, Walt Kelly has come full circle. Starting at Disney in the mid-30s, working for five years refining and strengthening his drawing abilities, leaving animation to pursue a lengthy career in comics, and finally returning to animation once again, this time with the added benefit of decades of experience.

Michael Ruocco

Michael Ruocco

Michael Ruocco, a graduate from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, works as an artist in the animation industry in Los Angeles.

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