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Biography: Walt Kelly

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Birth: August 25, 1913 Philadelphia, PA?Death: October 18, 1973, Woodland Hills, CA (Diabetes complications)


Animator, Editorial Cartoonist, Comic Book Cartoonist, Comic Strip?Cartoonist?Creator of POGO for Dell Comics, later the Post-Hall Syndicate?President, National Cartoonists Society 1954-1956

Bio Summary

Parents: Walter Crawford Kelly and Genevieve [MacAnnula] Kelly?Married: Helen DeLacey (divorced)?Stephanie Waggony (widowed)?Margaret Selby Daley?Children: Peter, Carolyn, Stephen

Early Life/Family

Family moved to Bridgeport, CT during Kelly’s second year. Kelly’s?father?was a painter of theatrical scenery. Kelly began his career at age 13?as a?cartoonist and reporter for the local newspaper, the Bridgeport Pos


Warren G. Harding High School?During World War II, Kelly was at the Foreign Language Unit and?illustrated?manuals for the Army.

Career Outline

Walt Disney Studios – 1935 to 1941 (Kelly left the studio rather than?strike)?Western Publishing/Dell Comics ­ 1942 to 1953?New York Star ­ 1948 to 1949?Began POGO for the Post-Hall Syndicate in May, 1949. George Ward and?Henry?Shikuma were among Kelly’s assistants on the strip. After Kelly¹s?death, it?was continued by Selby and Stephen Kelly until 1975.

Comments On Style

Walt Disney Studios – 1935 to 1941 (Kelly left the studio rather than?strike)?Western Publishing/Dell Comics ­ 1942 to 1953?New York Star ­ 1948 to 1949?Began POGO for the Post-Hall Syndicate in May, 1949. George Ward and?Henry?Shikuma were among Kelly’s assistants on the strip. After Kelly¹s?death, it?was continued by Selby and Stephen Kelly until 1975.


T.S. Sullivant, George Herriman, Lewis Carroll, Joel Chandler Harris


Gruff on the exterior – although reportedly personable, highly?energetic and extroverted. Kelly was also extremely proud?of his journalism pedigree, and considered himself a newspaper man as well as?a cartoonist.


Supposedly an L.A. production of SHOW BOAT nearly obsessed him, and led?directly to the Southern setting of POGO.

Milton Caniff’s favorite anecdote about Walt Kelly:?”The one I remember involved Walt and Al Capp?of LI’L ABNER. This was at the RCA?Theater and was a meeting of the Newspaper Comics?Council. At each of their meetings, after the?business session was over, they usually had something?that related to cartooning – visuals, or a panel.?This time it was just Al and Walt, two boys from?Bridgeport, Connecticut, nose to nose and no recording?was made, I’m sad to say…?Walt would say to Al, “Of course, Al, this is really?how you should draw Daisy Mae. I’m only showing you?for your own good.” Then Walt would do a sketch.?Capp, of course, got ticked off by this, as you could?imagine! So he retaliated by doing his version of?Pogo. Unfortunately, the drawings are long gone; no?recording was made. What a shame! Nobody anticipated?there’d be this dueling back and forth between the two?of them. Otherwise we would have set it up to be?recorded…”


Kelly was the first strip cartoonist to be invited to contribute?originals?to the Library of Congress.?Pogo’s famous phrase – “We have met the enemy, and he is us” – is a?take-off?on Commodore Perry’s “We have met the enemy, and he is ours.”?
Random fact: Kelly discontinued the POGO POSSUM comic book after 16?issues?and fell out with Dell in 1953 over publication of the POGO PARADE?anthology. He was angry over the reprinting of his early work, which?embarrassed him. His bogus “1943” drawing of Pogo from TEN?EVER-LOVIN’?BLUE-EYED YEARS was an (unnecessary) attempt to falsify the record and?cover?his tracks.

Politically, Kelly would be more accurately described as a “progressive”?rather than a leftist or a liberal – he was a great supporter of?Eisenhower?over Adlai Stevenson, for example. Conversely, he seemed to tilt to?Truman?over Dewey, and was (famously) an early critic of Senator Joe McCarthy.?He?seemed to skewer both Johnson and Nixon in later years, as well as J.?Edgar?Hoover, George Wallace and Spiro Agnew. Kelly was considered a?sufficient?enough threat that his phone was tapped, and the US Government?corresponded?with a newspaper reporter who claimed that the eccentric jargon Kelly?created was a secret Russian code!?Needless to add, Kelly was an unquestioned supporter of desegregation?and?free speech, and his name was recently discovered on a petition in?support?of Lenny Bruce.??Kelly’s singing voice, a boozy Irish baritone – can be heard on the?SONGS?OF THE POGO album, for which he also supplied the lyrics. Kelly was a?prolific poet, especially in the “Anguish Languish” form (of which?”Deck Us?All With Boston Charlie” is considered one of the prime examples).




NCS Reuben Award (Cartoonist Of The Year) – 1951?NCS Silver T-Square Award (Extraordinary Service) – 1972

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Bibliographic References

(All Simon & Schuster unless otherwise noted)?POGO (1951)?I GO POGO (1953)?UNCLE POGO SO-SO STORIES (1953)?THE POGO PAPERS (1953)?THE POGO STEPMOTHER GOOSE (1954)?THE INCOMPLEAT POGO (1954)?THE POGO PEEK-A-BOOK (1955)?POTLUCK POGO (1955)?THE POGO SUNDAY BOOK (1956)?THE POGO PARTY (1956)?SONGS OF THE POGO (1956)?POGO’S SUNDAY PUNCH (1957)?POSITIVELY POGO (1957)?THE POGO SUNDAY PARADE (1958)?G.O. FIZZICKLE POGO (1958)?TEN EVER-LOVIN’ BLUE-EYED YEARS WITH POGO (1959)?THE POGO SUNDAY BRUNCH (1959)?POGO EXTRA, POGO ELECTION EXTRA (1960)?BEAU POGO (1960)?GONE POGO (1961)?POGO A LA SUNDAE (1961)?INSTANT POGO (1962)?THE JACK ACID SOCIETY BLACK BOOK (1962)?FIVE BOYHOODS ed. by Martin Levin (1962) Doubleday?POGO PUCE STAMP CATALOG (1963)?DECK US ALL WITH BOSTON CHARLIE (1963)?POGO FOR PRESIDENT (1964) Fawcett Crest Books?THE RETURN OF POGO (1965)?THE POGO POOP BOOK (1966)?PREHYSTERICAL POGO (IN PANDEMONIA) (1967)?EQUAL TIME FOR POGO (1968)?SONGS OF THE POGO (1968)?POGO: PRISONER OF LOVE (1969)?IMPOLLUTABLE POGO (1970)?POGO: WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US (1972)?POGO REVISITED (1974) Previous titles reprinted in one volume?POGO RE-RUNS: SOME REFLECTIONS ON ELECTIONS (1974) Previous titles?reprinted?in one volume?POGO ROMANCES RECAPTURED (1975) Previous titles reprinted in one volume?IMPOLLUTABLE POGO (1976)?POGO’S BATS AND THE BELLES FREE (1976)?POGO’S BODY POLITIC (1976)?A POGO PANORAMA (1977) Previous titles reprinted in one volume?POGO¹S DOUBLE SUNDAE (1978) Previous titles reprinted in one volume?POGO’S WILL BE THAT WAS (1979) Previous titles reprinted in one volume?THE BEST OF POGO (1982)?POGO EVEN BETTER (1984)?OUTRAGEOUSLY POGO (1985)?PLUPERFECT POGO (1987)?THE WALT KELLY COLLECTOR’S GUIDE (1988) Spring Hollow Books?PHI BETA POGO (1989)?POGO AND ALBERT: THE COMPLETE POGO COMICS (1990) 4 Volumes ­ Eclipse?Books?POGO FILES FOR POGOPHILES (1992) Spring Hollow Books?POGO BY WALT KELLY (1992-2000) 11 Volumes ­ Fantagraphics?AMERICA’S GREAT COMIC STRIP ARTISTS by Richard Marschall (1997)?Abbeville?THE POGOPEDIA by Nik Lauer, et al. (2001) Spring Hollow Books?WALT KELLY’S OUR GANG (2006) 4 Volumes – Fantagraphics?POGO: THE COMPLETE DAILY & SUNDAY COMIC STRIPS (2009)


Contributors To This Listing

Mike Fontanell
i?Joe Suggs

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