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Friday, August 25, 2006

Pogo’s Legacy

Long before Gary Trudeau's Doonsbury and Scott Adams' Dilbert, cartoonist Walt Kelly, who was born August 25, 1913 and died in 1973, satirized American culture and politics with a group of Okefenokee Swamp critters led by a possum named Pogo.

According to a 2005 Washington Post article (“Pogo, Never Really Gone,” by Jonathan Yardley, May 23, 2005), Kelly’s strip appeared in 600 newspapers across the country at the height of his popularity in the late 1950s. An Adlai Stevenson liberal, he even created a character based on Senator Joseph McCarthy, an unpleasant bobcat named Simple J. Malarkey. In later years he satirized Richard Nixon, Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, showing he didn’t take sides.

But even without the politics, Kelly entertained a generation with creatures such as Albert Alligator, Howland Owl, the turtle Churchy-la-Femme, Porky Pine, the cow Horrors Greeley, the alluring skunk Mam'zelle Hepzibah, Beauregard the houn' dog, Mallard de Mer ("the seasick duck"), Deacon Muskrat and Wiley Cat.

Pogo fans still gather annually for a Pogofest to celebrate their favorite strip. This year’s event was held in Waycross, George not far from the haunts of Pogo and his friends. For all things Pogo, check out:

Pogo, Volume 1 by Walt Kelly.

The Pogo Peek-a-Book by Walt Kelly.

Flashbacks: Twenty-Five Years of Doonesbury by Gary Trudeau.

It’s Not Funny If I Have To Explain It by Scott Adams.

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