Pogo 'Earthday' strip by Walt Kelly

Walt Kelly (a diminutive of Walter Crawford Jr.) is a comic artist who was undoubtedly influenced by his father, who painted backgrounds for the theater. Walt Kelly started his career as a reporter and cartoonist for the Bridgeport Post, his local newspaper. In 1935, he joined the Walt Disney Studios, where worked as a story man and animator on movies like 'Pinocchio', 'Dumbo', and 'Fantasia'. In the mid-1930s, he did his first comics work at the future DC Comics. Kelly was fired from the Disney studios in 1941, after taking part in a strike.

Cover for Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, by Walt KellyCover for Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, by Walt Kelly

He then found a job at Dell Publishing, where he did comics with licensed characters. Kelly did the lead series in the MGM title Our Gang Comics, and contributed to Dell's Disney titles. He did several classic covers for walt Disney's Comics and Stories, and wrote and drew stories with 'Donald Duck', as well as the 'Three Caballeros' comics adaptation. He was the artist of the pantomime 'Gremlins' strip, which appeared as a back-up comic. Kelly also contributed to Santa Claus Funnies and Fairy Tale Parade. In a more adult register, he drew 'Seaman Sy Wheeler' in Camp Comics and 'Pat, Patsy and Pete' in Looney Tunes.

Gremlins, by Walt Kelly

It was during his time at Dell that he created the character of Pogo, a humourous possum. The character first appeared in Dell's Animal Comics, as a secondary character in the 'Albert the Alligator' strip. It didn't take long until 'Pogo' became the comic's leading character. After the second World War, Walt Kelly became artistic director at the New York Star, and turned Pogo into a daily strip. When the Star folded in 1949, Bob Hall took 'Pogo' into syndication, so that the strip soon appeared in hundreds of newspapers. Until his death in 1973, he dedicated himself completely to this series, which has become a classic in comics. In 1954, he was nominated president of the National Cartoonists Society.

Pogo, by Walt Kelly 1966

Playing with the codes of the genre, Walt Kelly developed a personal oeuvre that blended social satire, nonsense and poetry. He made an essential contribution to American "intellectual" comics. After Kelly's death, the strip was continued by his widow Selby Kelly, Henry Shikuma and Don Morgan. His son Stephen Kelly took on the writing duties. In 1989, the strip was shortly revived by Larry Doyle and Neal Sternecky, and in 1992/93, Kelly's daughter Carolyn Kelly drew the 'Pogo' strip for a while.

Pogo Possum comic cover, by Walt Kelly

Pogo, by Walt Kelly 1966

Official Pogo site

Series and books by Walt Kelly in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:


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