Monday, January 11, 2010


Pogo was the title and central character of a long-running (1948-1975) daily comic strip created by Walt Kelly and distributed by the Post-Hall Syndicate. Set in the Okefenokee Swamp of the southeastern United States, the strip often engaged in social and political satire through the adventures of its anthropomorphic funny animal characters.

Pogo combined both sophisticated wit and slapstick physical comedy in a heady mix of allegory, Irish poetry, literary whimsy, puns and wordplay, lushly detailed artwork, irresistible characters and broad burlesque humor. The same series of strips could be enjoyed on different levels both by young children and by savvy adults. The strip earned Kelly a Reuben Award in 1951.

Pogo was set in the Georgia section of the Okefenokee Swamp; Waycross and Fort Mudge are occasionally mentioned.

The characters lived, for the most part, in hollow trees amidst lushly-rendered backdrops of North American wetlands, bayous, lagoons and backwoods. Local landmarks - such as "Miggle’s General Store and Emporium" (a.k.a. "Miggle's Miracle Mart") and the "Fort Mudge Memorial Dump", etc. - were occasionally featured. The landscape was fluid and vividly detailed, with a dense variety of (often caricatured) flora and fauna. The richly-textured trees and marshlands frequently changed from panel to panel within the same strip. Like the Coconino County depicted in Krazy Kat, and the Dogpatch of Li’l Abner, the distinctive cartoon landscape of Kelly’s Okefenokee Swamp became as strongly identified with the strip as any of its characters.

Kelly's characters are a sardonic reflection of human nature—venal, greedy, confrontational, selfish and stupid—but portrayed good-naturedly and rendered harmless by their own bumbling ineptitude. Most characters were nominally male, but a few female characters also appeared regularly. Kelly has been quoted as saying that all the characters reflected different aspects of his own personality. Kelly's characters were also self-aware of their comic strip surroundings. He frequently had them leaning up against or striking matches on the panel borders, breaking the fourth wall, or making tongue-in-cheek, "inside" comments about the nature of comic strips in general.

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