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Press Release ------ Posted by Scott Tingley, February 18, 2007

FANTAGRAPHICS  TO PUBLISH
WALT KELLY'S POGO,
DESIGNED BY JEFF SMITH

 



Fantagraphics Books is pleased to announce that it has acquired
the rights to publish a comprehensive series comprising Walt
Kelly's classic POGO comic strip. The first volume of
Fantagraphics' POGO will appear in October, 2007, and the
series will run approximately 12 volumes.

Each Pogo volume will be designed by Jeff Smith, the award-
winning cartoonist and creator of the Bone graphic novel, and
a lifelong admirer of Walt Kelly.

Walt Kelly (born Walter Crawford Kelly Jr.) was born in 1913 and
started his career at age 13 in Connecticut as a cartoonist and
reporter for the Bridgeport Post, his local newspaper. In 1935, he
moved to Los Angeles and joined the Walt Disney Studio, where he
worked on classic animated films, including 'Pinocchio,' 'Dumbo,' and
'Fantasia.' In the mid 1930s, he drew his first comics work for the
future DC Comics. Kelly left Disney in 1941 rather than take sides in
their bitter labor strike. He moved back east and began drawing comic
books for Western Publishing Company and the Dell line of comics.

It was during this time that Kelly created the character Pogo Possum.
The character first appeared in Dell's Animal Comics as a secondary
player in the 'Albert the Alligator' feature. It didn't take long
until 'Pogo' became the comic's leading character. After the Second
World War, Kelly became artistic director at the New York Star, where
he turned Pogo into a daily strip. When the Star folded in 1949, the
Hall Syndicate took 'Pogo' into syndication, so that the strip soon
appeared in hundreds of newspapers. Until his death in 1973, he
produced a feature that has become widely cherished among casual
readers and aficionados alike as a classic comic strip.

Kelly blended nonsense, poetry, and political and social satire in
making POGO an essential contribution to American "intellectual"
comics. As the strip progressed, it became a hilarious platform for
Kelly's scathing political views in which he skewered national
boogeymen like Joseph McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, George Wallace, and
Richard Nixon. Kelly was considered a sufficient threat that his
phone was tapped and the US Government corresponded with a newspaper
reporter who claimed that the eccentric patois Kelly created was a
secret Russian code.) Pogo is well known for its elaborate and ornate
lettering and for Kelly's distinctive use of language and lush
brushwork. It is one of the few comic strips that succeeded in
blending humor and politics into an uncompromising and entertaining
whole.

The consecutive run of Pogo has never before been systematically
collected into book form. (Fantagraphics published a series of 11
softcover volumes reprinting five-and-a-half years of the strip in
the ‘90s.) This will be the definitive series collecting all of his
Pogo strips from 1949 to 1973. “Walt Kelly is unquestionably in the
pantheon of great newspaper strip cartoonists,” said Gary Groth,
President & Publisher of Fantagraphics Books. "Our Pogo books will
present Kelly's work the way it should be published — in a
beautifully designed hardcover format, with careful attention paid to
reproduction quality, and with knowledgeable introductory material.”

“I am very excited that Fantagraphics has chosen to publish Pogo in
such wonderful books,” said Carolyn Kelly, Walt's daughter. “For many
years people have been telling me how much they want to own this
series, and I am thrilled that Pogo will now be so carefully compiled
and available to us. Ol' Walt would be proud.”

"This collection has been a long time coming," said Jeff Smith, "I've
been waiting for it ever since I was nine. I'm very happy to be
helping the Kelly family and Fantagraphics bring this comic strip
masterpiece to a new audience."

POGO will join Fantagraphics' prestigious lineup of the world's best
newspaper strip cartoonists — George Herriman (Krazy Kat), Charles
Schulz (Peanuts), E.C. Segar (Popeye), Hal Foster (Prince Valiant),
Harold Gray (Little Orphan Annie), and Hank Ketcham (Dennis the
Menace), as well as the company's contemporary cartoonists (including
Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Robert Crumb,
Jules Feiffer, Jim Woodring, Carol Tyler, Peter Bagge, Tony
Millionaire, and others).


 


 

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