Long, long delayed by difficulties finding the source materials, volume one of Fantagraphics’ long awaited reprinting of Pogo: The Complete Daily & Sunday Comic Strips, Vol. 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder by Walt Kelly is finally at the printers, Mark Evanier announces:
My friend, the lovely Carolyn Kelly, lovingly supervised the loving restoration of her lovely father’s lovely strip and she also did the lovely design of this lovely book and its lovely dust jacket and the lovely imprints under that lovely dust jacket. Sure sounds like a labor of love to me. Not that the contents need any help but the strips are supplemented by a foreword from writer (and friend o’ Walt’s) Jimmy Breslin and essays/annotations by Steve Thompson, R.C. Harvey and myself. If I were you, I’d read all that text stuff after I read the strips themselves about eleven times.
Each volume contains two years of Walt Kelly’s magnum opus. Since the first year started in mid-year, there’s room in the book to also include the pre-syndication Pogo strips he did for The New York Star, a short-lived newspaper for which he worked. This gives you the chance to observe from Day One and watch as it develops steadfastly from a darn good newspaper strip to something a lot better than just “darn good.” Working on this collection, that was my constant thought: “Gee, it just gets better and better, doesn’t it?”
Although it looked whimsical enough, Pogo wasn’t afraid to jab hard on the political foibles of the day, and created such memorable characters as Albert the Alligator, Churchy La Femme, and Mam’selle Hepzibah. If you notice more than a bit of Kelly’s drawing style in Jeff Smith, well it’s no accident. Pogo’s return in a new collection is happy news indeed.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.