From Academic Kids

For other uses, see Pogo (disambiguation).
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Walt Kelly coined the phrase "we have met the enemy and he is us" on this 1971 Earth Day poster.

Pogo was a daily comic strip by Walt Kelly as well as the name of its principal character.

"Pogo Possum" was an opossum who lived in Okefenokee Swamp and spent a great deal of time fishing from a simple, slab-sided scow. He was honest and shared with the strip's readers simple homespun wisdom. Other major characters were Pogo's best friends: the blustering and cheerful "Albert Alligator"; the superstitious "Churchy LaFemme" (a mud turtle, whose name is a play on the French phrase "cherchez la femme" originated by Alexandre Dumas, meaning "look for the woman" as a cause of a problem); the misanthropic "Porkypine" (a porcupine); "Howland Owl", a pedantic know-it-all; and Beauregard the Dog, so loyal that he's an irritant. Kelly once said that these characters were all aspects of his own personality.

Most characters were at least nominally male, but a few female characters appeared regularly, most notably Miz Beaver and Mam'selle Hepzibah, a skunk.

Pogo debuted in 1949 and appeared until Kelly's death in 1973. Kelly's wife and his assistant continued the strip for a short time after his death before retiring the strip. It was briefly revived in 1989, but the original Pogo written and illustrated by Walt Kelly is often considered among the best-written and best-drawn examples of the newspaper comic strip. Instead of the usual "gag-a-day" format of most strips, a single Pogo daily strip typically had three or four puns, double entendres, and occasional in-jokes as well as the main gag or situation of the day.

"Pogo" often engaged in social and political satire through the adventures of the strip's funny animals. The strip also used much slapstick physical humor; the same series of strips could often be enjoyed by young children and by savvy adults on different levels.

Most famously, in 1953 Kelly introduced a polecat character named "Simple J. Malarkey" -- a caricature of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Comic historians noted that this satire showed significant courage on Kelly's part considering the influence the politician wielded at that time, and the possibility of potentially scaring away subscribing newspapers.

The strip was also known for creative usage of speech balloons. "Deacon Mushrat", an educated muskrat, spoke with speech balloons that used Old English-style Gothic lettering. "Sarcophagus Macabre", a mortician vulture, spoke with square, black-framed speech balloons that resembled funeral announcements. "P.T. Bridgeport", a con-artist bear (influenced by or modeled on American showman and politician P. T. Barnum, one-time mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut), spoke with speech balloons that resembled 19th century circus posters.


  • "We have met the enemy and he is us."
  • "We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunity."
  • "Don't take life so serious - it ain't nohow permanent."
  • Deck us all with Boston Charlie
    Walla Walla, Wash, and Kalamazoo!
    Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
    Swaller dollar cauliflower Alleygaroo!
    Don't we know archaic barrel,
    Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou.
    Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
    Boola Boola Pensacoola Hullabaloo!

Works influenced by Pogo

Walt Kelly's work has influenced a number of prominent comic artists.

  • In the Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book, cartoonist Bill Watterson listed Pogo as one of the three greatest influences on his comic, Calvin and Hobbes.
  • The artwork in Jeff Smith's Bone comic book series is strongly influenced by Walt Kelly's style.

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