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POGO COMPLETE

Pogo: Evidence to the Contrary
The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips, Volume 3

By Walt Kelly; Foreword by Mike Peters
“Swamp Talk and Historical Data” by R.C. Harvey
Biography by Mark Evanier

356 9x11-inch landscape pages
b/w and Sundays in color
2014 Fantagraphics hardcover
$45

POGO Evidence to the Contrary Vol 3 coverThis is the grand high pooh-bah of reprint projects. Not only is the comic strip the work of cartooning genius, but the book design and reproduction are superlative — with several toothsome extras like occasional reprints of original art, with Kelly’s bluelines showing. The period embraced by this volume, January 1, 1953 to December 31, 1954, includes what many (me among them) regard as the most famous of Kelly’s satires, that of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, wherein his allegorical self in the strip winds up getting tarred with the tar he intended for others, which proves, I suppose, that when you go about smearing others, you’re likely to get some of the smear on yourself.

In my section of the book, I annotate the many topical allusions Kelly made while joyfully lambasting the hypocritical and the self-important — my effort, it is hoped, making the cartoonist’s satire understandable. Peters conducts a page-long appreciation of Pogo, and Evanier supplies boilerplate biographical overview for those who somehow missed Volumes 1 and 2.

The daily strips appear three to a page, which permits reproduction at a size nowadays not only never seen but never even heard of. The Sundays, which offered a different continuity (albeit nothing vast that requires detailed study and note-taking), show up at one per page at the end of the book; there was a lot of clowning around on Sundays and very little of the heavy-duty satire that cropped up in the dailies. All the strips, dailies and Sundays, are dated (month, day, and year) in running heads on each page, a helpful tactic for scholars and historians and those of us with such bad eyesight that we can’t read the lettered dates in the corners of the strips.

P.S. In the interest of advertising an endearing trait of conscious candor, I must admit what is doubtless widely known: I have worked for Fantagraphics’ Comics Journal for nearly 40 years, an association that has always been pleasant and mildly remunerative. This relationship may make me biased in favor of Fantagraphics’ products. But then again, many of the products of other publishers that I review here have been created by friends. By way of explaining myself, I say only that I became friends with most of them because I liked their work. Admiration fostered friendship, not the other way around. That, however, is, ultimately, neither here nor there. Instead, you must presume that I am always biased in my reviews.

 

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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