Pogo, Vol. 1 of the Complete Syndicated Comic Strips: “Through the Wild Blue Wonder”

Walt Kelly, Author, foreword by Jimmy Breslin
Walt Kelly, foreword by Jimmy Breslin. Fantagraphics, $39.99 (360p) ISBN 978-1-56097-869-5
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This exceptional first volume of the collected adventures of Pogo Possum should remind readers of the substantial legacy left behind by Kelly. It features Kelly’s daily strips (1949–1950), Sunday funnies (1950), and even his earlier New York Star dailies (1948–1949). The volume is beautifully put together, including excellent insights into Kelly and his work, and features a foreword by Jimmy Breslin and a concluding section, “Swamp Talk,” featuring annotations by comics historian R.C. Harvey. One only needs to get a short way into the adventures of Pogo and his pals in Okefenokee Swamp to recognize the impact Pogo has had on so many cartoonists, with Gary Trudeau, Jeff Smith, and Bill Watterson among the most obvious. With Pogo Possum and supporting characters Albert Alligator, Howland Owl, and Churchy LaFemme, Kelly was able to blend hilarious humor, exceptional storytelling, keen political satire, and brilliant wordplay into a strip that could be appreciated both by children and adults. The more one reads this volume, the clearer picture one has of Kelly as comics’ answer to Lewis Carroll, with Alice having changed into a possum and left Wonderland behind for a swamp. (Nov.)
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