Sunday, September 2, 2007

Walt Kelly's Pogo: A small gallery of well-worn paperback covers, 1951 - 1963

It's unclear to me who might be the greater American folk hero:
Pogo the Possum or his creator, cartoonist Walt Kelly.

Kelly worked on Pogo from the character's first appearance in Animal Comics #1 (Dec-Jan 1941-42), published by Dell, on through the debut of the syndicated newpaper strip in 1948, and until his death in 1973.

Dozens of book collections appeared over the years, some of them reprinting newspaper strips, others containing all original material.

I've gathered just a few of them from here and there over time. They remain a fun read, and the epitome of charming satire.

I thought about running some of these cover images (dating from 1951 - 1963) through Photoshop to try and clean them up a bit. Then I realized that part of what makes them special is the miles they've travelled and the evidence of all the hands they've passed through.

When looking for the 'dog-eared and well-loved' factor in old used copies of comic strip reprint paperbacks, the Pogo series may be second only to all those 'Peanuts' collections from your childhood.

So I guess this is a 'warts and all gallery'...

(click on images to ENLARGE on a new page)

A few notes on some of the personal quirks of these specific copies pictured:

- My copy of that original first 'Pogo' book above retains the price tag from Froggies, a particularly good used book store in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Well, what do YOU do on vacation?)
I found it there probably mid-1980's. It's missing a back cover and has 'Virginia Long', the name of a previous owner, inscribed in red ink within.

(Seriously, I just love to ponder the previous lives and journeys of old books, records, comics, etc...)

- Likewise, 'Uncle Pogo So-So Stories' has a name and address for Bonnie James of San Rafael, California, and it looks very much like it was written with a fountain pen.

- The title page of 'The Pogo Papers' has an inscription, 'Happy Birthday to Daddy with love from David 3/13/55'.

- Likewise 'The Pogo Stepmother Goose', in pencil: 'For Mistress Furry... My Prize Leslie... Your "Unkie R." Wit Luv'.

- 'Potluck Pogo' is a copy stamped as deleted from the stock of The Mill Valley Public Library, so doubtless I found it at one of their Friends of the Library book sales.

(Don't even get me started on how much I LOVE finding former library copies of books, especially if it retains date stamps showing some history of when it had been checked out...)

- Looks to me like the name in blue felt tip on the cover of the slightly warped and water-damaged 'Pogo Sunday Parade' says 'Liebert'.

⬅ (End papers from 'The Pogo Sunday Parade'. Click to enlarge.)

See also: (click for links)

- A cover gallery (books and comics) at The Official Pogo Website. Lots of other cool stuff there, too...

- An illustrated Walt Kelly bio page at the Bud Plant site.

- The Walt Kelly entry at Lambiek.

- Parasol Records has re-issued to CD the 1956 'Songs Of The Pogo' album by Walt Kelly and Norman Monath.
Go to the site and listen to a few cuts, including
Walt Kelly singing
'Go Go Pogo'!!!
(You'll need Windows Media Player)


Anonymous said...

Jeez, what a trip! I grew up on Pogo in the 50s (I'm now 61), and it was a very great favorite of my parents. To this day I can sing "Deck The Halls With Boston Charlie, Walla Walla Wash and Kalamazoo" at Christmas time!

John (Tenney)

cumulus said...

funny, funny, funny... and brilliant! nothing like POGO since - I was hoping you'd written something about that Jack Acid book (hilarious!), but no luck. I wanna come over and do some reading...

Thanks for posting these!

Freshly-stirred links