Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Incompleat Pogo: Walt Kelly

"Don't take life so serious, son. It ain't nohow permanent."
I've just dug up my childhood copy of The Incompleat Pogo by Walt Kelly from a box in storage. It's faded and dog-eared, but otherwise perfectly readable considering it's from 1954. According to my mum, it belonged to one of my uncles, but when I opened the cover it read:
I must have scrawled that in pencil when I was 5 or 6 years old. I had pretty good taste for one of "nature's little screechers," as Kelly would say.

Kelly worked with Disney for a while before going rogue and launching his Pogo comic strip in The New York Star in 1948. Pogo is a possum living in Okefenokee Swamp with all his critter friends communicating in a peculiar dialect known as "swamp-speak." Kelly was a master of language, a born humourist and a brilliant satirist. He's been compared to everyone from Lewis Carroll and James Joyce to Aesop. Not one to shy away from politics, Kelly would say he was against "the extreme Right, the extreme Left, and the extreme Middle." He poked fun at the Ku Klux Klan (The Kluck Klams):

And also lampooned Senator Joseph McCarthy (Simple J. Malarkey) at a time when he wielded enough power to ruin careers:

Here's a song Kelly wrote and sang called, "Go Go Pogo":

Go Go Pogo

As Maine go o so Pogo go Key Largo,
Otsego to Frisco go to Fargo,
Okeefenokee playin', possum on a Pogo,
Stick around and see the show

Go over Land alive a band o' jive will blow go Pogo,
I go you go who go to go pollyvoo go,
From Caravan Diego, Waco and Oswego,
Tweedle de he go she go we go me go Pogo.

Atascadero, Wheeler, Barrow, Someplace in Mexico,
Delaware, Ohio and you don't need the text to go.
Wheeling, West Virginia, With everything that's in ya,
Down the line you'll see the shine from Oregon to Caroline.

Oh, eenie Meenie Minie Kokomo go Pogo
Tishimingo, sing those lingo, whistling go.
Shamokin to Hoboken,
Chenango to Chicongo,
it's golly, I go goo goo going go go Pogo.

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