Pogo

by Henry on October 13, 2004

I’ve never known any more about Walt Kelly’s comic strip “Pogo,” than that it gave birth to the famous phrase “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Now, after reading John Crowley’s lovely essay on Pogo in the Boston Review, I want to read the lot.

{ 34 comments }

1

Ophelia Benson 10.13.04 at 5:06 pm

Pogo is very cool. I’ve been meaning to re-read it for years…

2

Matt Weiner 10.13.04 at 5:20 pm

Absolutely. “Don’t take life so serious–it ain’t nohow permanent.”

And: “Comes the revolution, you li’l scapers will be hip deep in Cabbage Salad and other luxuries, singing ‘Masses in the Cole Cole Slaw’.”

And (approximately): “We had the New Deal and the Fair Deal. Now we offers twice as much as what the other fellow offers you–we is going to give you…
The Double Deal.”

I’m going to put another one up at home.

3

double-plus-ungood 10.13.04 at 5:28 pm

I started buying and reading Pogo in my teens, many many years ago, and I have an extensive collection of Kelly paperbacks now. The guy was brilliant, and comics like Doonesbury and Calvin and Hobbes owe more than a tip of the hat to Pogo.

For a starter, I highly recommend Ten Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Years With Pogo, a compendium of the first ten years of Pogo. This includes his famous treatment of Joseph McCarthy, and Kelly’s commentary makes great reading.

Oh, and remember “Deck us all with Boston Charlie, wally wally wash and kalamazoo.” – Churchy Lafemme

4

scott 10.13.04 at 5:39 pm

Fantagraphics Publishing here in Seattle have re-published something like ten volumes of Pogo strips in choronological order. Each strip is dated which is handy for looking up any of the goings on of the day. I find this nifty for putting Kelly’s commentary into the context of the times.

Recommended!

5

Ophelia Benson 10.13.04 at 5:56 pm

Dang, I’d forgotten Deck us all with Boston Charlie, also that it came from Pogo. Used to sing it to myself in an absent-minded manner quite a lot.

It’s not wally wally wash though, it’s walla walla wash – which is a place, and goes with kalamazoo, which is also a place.

6

Jeremy Osner 10.13.04 at 5:59 pm

Pogo is a great thing indeed. Particularly the trio of malevolent right-wingers, Molester Mole, Sarcophagus Macabre, and Simple J. Malarkey, and their virtuously reluctant patsy Deacon Mushrat. I’ll second the recommendation for 10 Ever-Lovin Blue-Eyed Years.

7

Ophelia Benson 10.13.04 at 6:02 pm

Next bit, which has just come back to me –

Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley
Swaller dollar cauliflower
Alleygaroo

(Useful to know that.)

8

Jeremy Osner 10.13.04 at 6:10 pm

Correction — Mole’s name was Mole MacCarony — here is a longish Making Light open thread with lots of Pogo mixed in among other stuff: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004963.html

9

Sebastian Holsclaw 10.13.04 at 7:01 pm

My dad had a complete Pogo which I enjoyed in my teens. I wonder where that ended up?

10

Hogan 10.13.04 at 7:05 pm

Don’t we know archaic barrel?
Lullabye, lillaboy, Louisville Lou!
Trolly Molly don’t love Harold,
Oola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Of course, Beauregard insists that this is a later corruption of the original carol, Bark Us All Bow-Wows of Folly.

11

Matt Weiner 10.13.04 at 7:19 pm

Well, Mole is introduced as Mole MacArony, but later he’s referred to consistently as Molester Mole, Esq. Mole, Simple J., and Sarcophogus Macabre were all members of the Jack Acid Society (frequently with Seminole Sam and Wiley Catt as well as the Deacon).

Don’t forget that Kelly was a strong anti-Communist as well as an anti-McCarthyite; the cowbirds speak a great pseudo-Marxist patois (“Arrant arrogantism”) and support equal rights for all: “If robins have the right to lay eggs in nests what robins make, then cowbirds have the right to lay eggs…” “…in nests what robins make! It’s simple.”

Later they go over to the Jack Acid society after Pogo dares to say that they have the right to be cowbirds: “It turned our stomachs to see Pogo defend scum such as we!” (all quotes approximate)

12

Jonathan Dresner 10.13.04 at 7:41 pm

I saw, or read about, once a Pogo strip in which one of the blustering politicians is going on about “making the world safe for democracy”; Pogo asks, “but who’ll make democracy safe for the world”? That’s what I see as my mission, as a teacher and citizen. But, though I have half a shelf of Pogo collections, I can’t find that panel. Urban legend? Hallucination? Wishful thinking? Or is my thrify reliance on used bookstores just limiting my scope?

13

double-plus-ungood 10.13.04 at 7:54 pm

One of my most favoritist sayings from Pogo was when Porkypine’s cousin accidently drank from a cup of paint.

Porkypine’s cousin: “Gak! That’s the worst coffee I’ve ever tasted!”
Churchy: “That ain’t coffee, that’s red paint.”
Porkypine’s cousin (resuming drinking from the cup): “Oh, well, it ain’t bad for red paint.”

(all dialogue from memory, may be in error).

14

Mike 10.13.04 at 8:35 pm

Crowley suggests that perhaps Kelly didn’t know the source of his ‘serpent’s tooth’s’ reference, which I doubt. It’s a little more likely, that Henry, being Irish, doesn’t know Oliver Perry’s dispatch from the Battle of Lake Erie, “We have met the enemy and he is ours.” Even if he does, maybe someone else doesn’t.

15

Hogan 10.13.04 at 8:41 pm

Churchy: I just don’t see how you can stand there drinking red paint.
Cousin Baldwin: Actually it’s more beige.
Churchy: Oh, well, yeah . . . beige . . . sure.

Howland, on the I Go Pogo campaign: We’ve got to SELL our man!
Churchy: But we just got him! We ain’t hardly used him at all! And anyway, it’s illegal to sell, serve, or allow to be consumed on the premises anybody what’s a citizen of these here states.

Bat #1: I’ve got seven jacks.
Bat #2: That’s funny. I’ve got eight jacks.
Bat #1: Strange.
Bat #2: Indeed.
Bat #1: Here’s the problem–someone’s been drawing mustaches on the queens.

Dammit, now I’ll never get any work done . . .

16

rea 10.13.04 at 9:41 pm

“It’s not wally wally wash though, it’s walla walla wash – which is a place, and goes with kalamazoo, which is also a place.”

I’m just back from a court appearance in Kalamazoo today, and I’m not sure you’re correct . . .

17

ben wolfson 10.13.04 at 10:20 pm

It isn’t “how sharper than a child’s tooth, to have a thankless serpent”? That’s how I’ve always remembered it … destroy a son’s faith in his father, hm?

18

wufnik 10.13.04 at 10:26 pm

I grew up reading Pogo, and collected all the books, which I still have. (The books, long out of print, are now being re-issued.) In fact, I named my blog bazzfazz in honor of Pogo–whenever Albert the Alligator would get upset or fed up, he would stare into space and swear, “Bazz Fazz.” I took the liberty of making it into one word. I really miss Walt Kelly.

And, of course, every faithful Pogo fan knows that there are several versions of Deck Us All…and each one is true!

19

Matt Weiner 10.13.04 at 10:27 pm

Ben, that’s also how I remember it. “Chile’s” tooth, actually. I think Crowley imported “ingratitude” from “Blow blow thou winter wind, thou art no more [tumty tum] than man’s ingratitude.” That’s Shakespeare, not Pogo. At least, I think it’s Shakespeare. Definitely not Pogo. Though I wouldn’t put it past Pogo to take off on that, too.

20

Ophelia Benson 10.13.04 at 10:31 pm

“I’m just back from a court appearance in Kalamazoo today, and I’m not sure you’re correct . . .”

Ah. I accede to the voice of experience.

21

wufnik 10.13.04 at 10:31 pm

And a fine poet to boot!

“Oh, roar a roar for Nora,
Nora Alice in the night.
For she has seen Aurora
Borealis burning bright.
A furore for our Nora!
And applaud Aurora seen!
Where, throughout the Summer, has
Our Borealis been?”

22

Matt Weiner 10.13.04 at 11:15 pm

there are several versions of Deck Us All…and each one is true!

There’s a sequence where (I think) Owl and Churchy argue about which is the “right wrong version.”

23

wufnik 10.13.04 at 11:58 pm

“There’s a sequence where (I think) Owl and Churchy argue about which is the “right wrong version.” “

Actually, that’s in the book–Deck Us All With Boston Charlie. And, of course, there’s Songs of the Pogo, which has the music too, if you need it.

24

wufnik 10.14.04 at 12:07 am

“There’s a sequence where (I think) Owl and Churchy argue about which is the “right wrong version.” “

Actually, that’s in the book of the same name–Deck Us All With Boston Charlie. And, of course, there’s Songs of the Pogo, which has the music as well, if you need it.

25

Dave Hollander 10.14.04 at 1:25 am

Oh,yes! You should. Pogo is destined to re-emerge as classic in the not-too-distant future.

26

chris borthwick 10.14.04 at 5:06 am

To shift the game somewhat in my favour, I think one should gain points from using Pogo quotes in refereed journals; I’ve put into the Journal of Medical Ethics his mighty line
[Howland Owl: ” – “These parachutes hardly ever fail!”]
[Albert – ]”The words ‘hardly ever’ have an unfortunate ring of _frequency_ about them.”
(Actually, that could be a Hobbes line without amendment)
And then there’s the sequence
Porkypine; “She walks in beauty like the night… her carriage is a thing of beauty.”
Omnes; “Ooh! Can we have a ride in her carriage?”
Porkypine; “Look! When I say carriage is a thing of beauty, I mean she walks well!”
Howland Owl: “Why does she walk if she’s got a carriage?”
Churchy: “Maybe the pony died?”
Omnes; “(sob) Poor pony!”
Churchy: “Hey, Porkypine! If she’s not using her carriage because the pony died, can we have the wheels for our billycart?”
Porkypine; “She – does – not – have – any – wheels!!!”
Howland: “Ah, _that’s_ why she doesn’t use her carriage.”
Churchy (mutinous whisper) “I bet he just wants to use them wheels hisself.”
And then we introduce Mamzelle Hepzibah.

27

chris borthwick 10.14.04 at 5:12 am

And am I the only person brought up on Pogo who actually thinks and talks in Okefenokee when tired or drunk?

28

Frank 10.14.04 at 6:12 am

Man, the swamp critters just come out of the woodwork, don’t they? :-)

“Ten years of worry, ten seconds of boom and wango!”

My mom, who was running a bookstore when I was an infant, had apparently bought all of the original paperback Pogo collections when they were published. Some time later, I discovered them and read them to pieces.

“E va ree bo dee. ‘Cept Pogo.” (Supported Pogo for President.)

I’ll never forget losing that man. Pogo wasn’t the same in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but losing Kelly was still a blow.

“Hot the rod and spoil the chile.”

The “don’t take life too serious” quote has always been one of my very favorite. Very wise things came out of Porky’s mouth on many an occasion. (Anyone remember the Christmas strip where Pogo takes Porky the single cupcake with a candle?)

“The dam is bust!!!”

29

Hogan 10.14.04 at 3:38 pm

And am I the only person brought up on Pogo who actually thinks and talks in Okefenokee when tired or drunk?

Rowr bazzle.

30

Ophelia Benson 10.14.04 at 4:38 pm

“Man, the swamp critters just come out of the woodwork, don’t they?”

Don’t they, and how obliging of them. They’re reminding me of what I’d forgot I’d even forgot.

31

vernaculo 10.14.04 at 9:30 pm

The way the name of the boat kept changing, as they drifted through the swamp…

32

sailcat 10.15.04 at 2:29 am

http://www.pogopossum.com/
Welcome to Pogo’s Website!

33

clong 10.15.04 at 6:15 am

The be-rumbled and bumbled back-talk of Fafblog has Pogo nature.

34

John Walter 10.15.04 at 3:35 pm

I remember reading pogo when I was young, spreading out the Sunday comics (Buffalo Courier-Express) in the sunshine on the living room rug.

I think it was my first exposure to a comic that appreciated the intelligence of the reader.

Anyway, I got the domain bazzfazz.com a few years ago in memory of Pogo, even though the site doesn’t have any Pogo reference.

My favorite quote was when Albert gathered the swamp critters around to teach them how to “pump a pumpking” (carve a pumpkin). Turns out it was a football, and somehow it got full of bees or something, which Albert accidentally swallowed later on…typical Pogo shenanigans, for those of us who know the strip!

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