Rick's Reviews > The Incompleat Pogo

The Incompleat Pogo by Walt Kelly
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's review
Dec 18, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: comics
Read in October, 2011

The fourth collection of strips, published in newspapers in 1953-54, my first two years on the planet, is not as good as I Go Pogo or The Pogo Papers but it’s pretty good nonetheless. The others set a pretty high bar and we shouldn’t hold them harshly against this fine anthology. Like the others its stories are divided into chapters, such as “From Here on Down It’s Uphill All the Way,” “In Which It Is Seen that It Is Hard to Hold as Much as a Pelican,” “A Form of Hire Education” and its follow-up story, “Nothing Taught Here Fearlessly.” And perhaps the most prescient one of all: “Who Is Now and Ever Has Been a Member of The Tea Party?” Here is the first tip to readers who find one of the Pogo books in their hands (available, alas, primarily through used book outlets but at not unreasonable prices), read everything. The table of contents is pleasurable by itself. The notes from the publisher and the author’s afterword are witty and inventive. If there are words on the page there is reason to peruse it for wordplay, puns, non sequitors or sage remarks or both. Indeed, if Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel didn’t exist, Walt Kelly could have invented them, or at least written for them.

But what really matters are the strips themselves, the drawings, characters, the dialogue, the wonderfully convoluted plots and conversations. “You said, Owl, that your college was teachin’ em NOTHIN’ What KIND of nothin’?” Requiring minds, it seems, want to know. Howland Owl replies, “I’m standin’ up fer ACADEMIC FREEDOMS! I’ll teach nothin’ as I pleases.” The cowbirds egging on the Preacher are suspicious. “You heard him…who know what kind of nothin’ he will teach? He may be an advocate of ANONYMOUS ANIMOSITISM!” The Preacher goes back at owl. “Professor Owl, do you mean you’d even teach em nothing about Alien Ideologies?” Howland looks down the barrel of the Preacher’s umbrella, “Anythin’ I happen to know nothin’ ‘bout, I’ll teach if I got the stren’th!” The Preacher departs saying, “This is a new approach…controlled ignorance…we must give this thought.” The cowbird fires at owl, “Academic Freedoms, my eye!” Howland sniffs back, “Sir, my freedoms is as academic as they come.” When you can skewer Church, State, and Academia in one set of panels you are doing a good day’s work as a satirist.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Ben (new)

Ben Kuehner I agree wholeheartedly with your review. much of Walt Kelly's irreverent authority-bashing is still relevant today. The closest anyone's art has come to Kelly's is the work of Bill Watterson. Revealing myself as a true nerd I must pick a microscopic nit with this review. Churchy LaFemme is the poetry-singing turtle; Howland Owl is the one who started the university.

Rick Thanks Ben, for the kind words and the correction. I fixed it. Don't know what I was thinking as I was typing.

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