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Pogo

📅 2021-Aug-01 ⬩ ✍️ Ashwin Nanjappa ⬩ 🏷️ book ⬩ 📚 Archive

A quote from A Random Walk Down Wall Street (“We have met the enemy and he is us”) led me to discover Pogo. This was a popular US comic strip from 1948 to the 1950s created by Walt Kelly. Starting from 1951, Simon and Schuster published more than 40 compilations of this strip, of which I picked up the self-titled first book.

The stories in the book revolve around the creatures living in the Okefenekee swamp in Georgia. The characters are Pogo (a possum), Albert (an alligator), an owl, a turtle, and many others, each representing a certain human trait (naive, sneaky etc.). They have an anthropomorphic form, walking on two legs in most cases. The characters speak in a heavy Southern drawl (local to George I guess?) in what is called swamp speak, making funny spelling and pronunciation errors, like kids might do. Almost all the creatures are naive and illiterate, thus being exploited by certain evil characters.

So what is unique about the Pogo stories? The artwork is beautiful, with the characters being heartwarming and reminiscent of the Disney comic books and cartoons of this era. This is not surprising considering that Kelly used to work at Disney. The cartoony characters, combined with their swamp speak, and settings are consistently funny. The series is a satire on politics, business, press, law, friendship, romance, family and such adult concepts. Though created almost 70 years ago, these concepts are just as relevant today as back then. The writing is really good, with many a quote that makes one chuckle or mentally note for later. I thoroughly enjoyed this compilation and might pick up some more from this series in the future.

Rating: 4/4