Thursday, November 1, 2012

The POGO Poop Book

I picked up this book The POGO Poop Book back in March and forgot to write about it! Sorry! I guess I'm getting more forgetful in my old age, haha!

This book is one of the more odd editions in the POGO catalog in that it is NOT made up of reprints of the comic strip. This is odd in and of itself, but not unheard of (The POGO Stepmother Goose is also all-original material, for example.) What really makes this book different is that it is the most overtly "political" Walt Kelly ever got. For example, the table of contents boasts the following:  Late Early Poop on the Jack Acid, Kluck Klams, and Whose God is Dead? Not your typical word-play and comedy.

The Jack Acid Society is Kelly's satirical take on the white supremacist group The John Birch Society, which was making news in the early 1960s. It took me years to figure out that the name is "Jack-Asses" as a adjective!

The story "The Kluck Klams" features the disturbing story of a little Ku Klux Klan child scaring the animals of the swamp as he runs around in a sheet looking for his father. It's very disconcerting to see Pogo befriending this child and helping him find his father. The moral is, of course, that hatred equals darkness and evil. Significantly, we never see what kind of character it is under the sheet. The message, obviously, is that it could be anyone.

The final portion of the book features theologian Chicken Little making aspirations to two bed bugs about how many angels can stand on the head of a pin. (His answer is 2,619 1/2.) They don't believe him. So he shouts, "If this word is not right, may my God fall from His heaven!" And then, of course, an acorn falls on his head! So instead of running around saying "The sky is falling!" he shouts, "God is dead!"

Pretty serious stuff for funny animal comic strip characters.

Artistically, Walt Kelly is at the top of his game. I've seen POGO characters from their initial appearance in 1948 to their last year of publication in 1973 and my favorites are definitely the later 60's versions of the characters. They seem more open, flowing, and "friendly" during this period then they did earlier and then later, before Mr. Kelly's health deteriorated and they became more brushy and ill-defined.

This is a great book and a wonderful addition to my POGO collection. I am SO glad I went with my wife to the antique mall and found it!

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