Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Masterpooch! A Masterpizza!

Since I started scanning all these strips I've noticed how prevalent the color yellow is for the backgrounds for most of these Sundays. I don't know if Kelly did the color guides, but whoever, yellow can be overdone y'know. This strip case in point.

But boy, the dialogue in this one is fascinating.

Afeard to Look

May Day! May Day!

Firstly, Fairly Forth We Fare

Now we're gettin' somewhere. Enter the elemump, that is to say, the ephalump, mm, the big guy.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Be of Good Heart

Churchy's a good soul, with simple pleasures.

DO Mongolian Mongooses Have Tails?

That Bun Was All Thumbs

This strip and the next one coming up were already posted on my Pictorial Arts stuff. When I posted it over there I had no idea I would be doing an entire blog for this storyline, but they belong here with this chronological continuity. 

And below is a cute little promo for this strip and the next.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hypnoticklish Magic

Kelly's in no hurry at all. Just some lazy Sunday afternoons around this time.

Woof, Indeed

With everbody allus pinkin' on him, the bug gets his day.  Yay!

A Speckle-tackular!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cowboys an' Indians an' Chonklit Cake

By now, you may be saying, 'Wait a minute, I signed on for a trip to Pandemonia, this stuff is just swamp critters acting goofy, cuttin' up and going nowheres.'

Well, yeah.

If you really feel that way, you may not be the Kelly fan you thought you were. Cuz, if you haven't noticed, every picture is funny, every sentence is funny, even a good percentage of the words themselves are funny. Pandemonia is still comin' up, but I'm having a ball gettin' there (and I've seen all this stuff a hunnert times).

All is Well in Heaven and in Hohokus

It's of interest to  note that at one point the U.S. government was corresponding with a civilian reporter who was sure that the 'lingo' used in Pogo was a secret Russian code. This was revealed in documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, according to Nancy Beiman in an interview with Selby Kelly.

I can just see FBI cryptologists sweating over words like 'razloggies'. 

Just pheenomiwockle!

What We Gonna Call This Comic Strip?

He's DEAD Jim!


This strip put me to sleep.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

14 Pounds of Licorice

Going nowhere fast.

Stren'th Through Joy

Yes, the story is moving along quickly now, isn't it folks? Kelly didn't dawdle in his storytelling as much as meandered.

Below, again a dropped panel that would have been placed as the 5th panel in this strip. Again thank you to Ger Apeldoorn of The Fabulous Fifties.

And who in the whirl is Toozy Borsmat?

Justice Dunn?

All the hub-bub of Seinfeld being a show about nothing was nothing compared to Kelly's nothing. Kelly was the master of nothing, making nothing into something.

Below, another panel dropped from the tabloid, originally the 5th panel. Again thanks to Ger Apeldoorn of The Fabulous Fifties for this panel.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Interplanetockle Personality

This is the first example of our run that shows the extra panel that is dropped from a tabloid format. It must not have been easy to write in a panel that wasn't necessary, yet would have to carry the story when it did run. This panel is courtesy of Ger Apeldoorn of The Fabulous Fifties.

Pure & Unpolloopaded

OK, the first mention of Mars in our sojourn. The motivation is set.

Happy New Year! Happy All Year in 2,001,966 B.C.

Happy 1966 everyone! This is where we begin our expedition to Pandemonia.

First off, I want to thank and show much appreciation to Ger Apeldoorn, of The Fabulous Fifties, for graciously combining his efforts with mine to present a completist version of this 14 month long arc. We are putting heads and collections together to showcase Kelly's magnum opus the best we can while still under a huge weight of our respective career deadlines.

If you ever choose to read the malarkey (14K or otherwise) that I may annotate these strips with, this is where you'll find it, under each strip. That way you can easily ignore it and go about your downloading. 

I think it best that we post one Sunday strip per post so that it's easier for you (and me) to keep them in order. It will be Sunday strips from January through the first of June, 1966. Then we'll fold in the dailies, supplemented by extra material from the book. As well, where possible, we will addend the extra panels that were dropped from tabloid pages. The Sunday strips will be tabloids and (as one viewer noted) they are more of a comic book format. So perhaps if you choose to download them you can create a compendium using the Comic Book Reader program.

So I'll post when I can, one at a time for now, sometimes 2 or 3 a day. Remember it is 6 months of material before we get to Pandemonia, so be patient and enjoy the slow build-up. We'll be there before you know it.

Monday, May 25, 2009

This Just In

Checkin' the book...

One more thing before we start. Boy do I feel stupid. A couple of posts back when I was referring to Prehysterical Pogo in Pandemonia, I said that it didn't have any special art in it. Sheesh.

All these many many years and I never thought to check the art from the newspaper against the art in the book, which I just now did. There are not only 'new' segues, but some of the Sunday art has been redrawn into a daily format, with some different details! I haven't yet checked the whole book to see how much of this is done, but I've seen enough to know that somehow I want to include this extra material when the time comes. It's going to be confusing to sort out, so bear with me because I think (completist that I am) that it will be worth it.

Wow, after all these years to just now know that. All you Pogophiles prolly already knew this, but I just now know that. What a whirl.

Twinkle in His Eye

1966 was indeed a new year for Kelly, as of course it was for all of us who were up and kicking back then. But Kelly had traveled extensively in the previous year and was currently on a speaking circuit when he confessed to me that he was tired and felt he needed to slow down. What he had been drawing had been drawn quickly with minimal attention to detail. But, he said, this year would be different. He was going to spend more time at the board and regain his spirit. He was overweight and breathing a bit hard (we were at high altitude after all), but the twinkle in his eye was blinding as his enthusiasm was infectious. I probably was jumping in my seat as he was describing the upcoming storyline.

Above is the first panel of the first Sunday of 1966. Next post, we begin.

Summer of '66

In the summer of '66, these spot ads were used in some editions (but curiously not all) of the paper. I was on vacation of sorts that summer, visiting my brother in Chicago, so while my mom saved the comics for me at home, I was also clipping Pogo from the Daily News. I had to have my daily dose of Pandemonia.

Sense Found in Nonsense

Prehysterical Pogo in Pandemonia was a book curiously lacking in enthusiasm or celebration of some of Kelly's finest moments. Other than the cover, there were no special spot drawings (like so many of his other books had), it was abridged and abbreviated from its first run, and Kelly's Foreword did not allude to the contents of the book, except to use the word "Martian" twice. There were no explanations, no insights for the storyline. And apparently it didn't sell well. It is one of the rarer tomes in Kelly's canon of works.

Below is the foreword of the book:

I can only imagine how wonderful it would be for a publisher to come out with a large album of the entire arc, complete with full page, full color three tier Sundays on the recto and six crisp dailies on the verso, with full insight essays, and a clay-coat beautifully designed cover and binding to boot.

* SIGH *

As you can see above, sometimes Kelly's essay-cum-forewords could be somewhat obscure. They might be hard to discern meaning or practical knowledge, but they brimmed with wit and reeked of worldly experience.

You knew that the man was no ivory tower cartoonist, but an activist—in the very best sense of the word. A man willing to side with the underdog—nay, to forcibly side with the human bean that has no hope. He seemed to believe strongly in hope, in a cynical sort of way.

Kelly didn't cry over spilt ink, he would quickly dip his brushes into it and dive into a new drawing, creating something new that otherwise might never have existed, due to procrastination or just plain idle hands. Yet he didn't avoid the devil's workshop. Rather he confronted the old bastard and took him to task for his mephistophelian misdeeds. Kelly faced sulfurous dragons of Hades, ready to wield his brush and pen and sometimes typewriter to remind the world that sense could be found in nonsense. Kelly's messages weren't obscure — we were.

I've taken this drawing out of context, but drawn 23 years prior to the incident, this drawing looks to be symbolic of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 culminating in the Tiananmen Square Massacre, where a single Chinese person stood alone to block a line of tanks heading east on Beijing's Cangan Blvd. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Setting the Stage

Over the years Kelly had an agenda of sorts for prehistoric hijinx and this beautiful ad that he made for Pan Am (with whom he had a professional relationship), appeared in a National Cartoonists Society April dinner booklet, and helps set the stage for our sojourn to Pandemonia.

As this was for his fellow cartoonists, he was allowed some bared breasts, and it is fascinating (and frustrating) to think of where his creativity might have soared if he had more adult venues. But I guess we can bemoan that for any of the great cartoonists, being grateful that here and there restrictions were lifted. 

Prehistoric Fairy Tale

On January 12, 1966 I had the great fortune to meet Walt Kelly and spend 30 minutes or so talking with him, one on one, in the comfort of a university chapel parlor. 

I was only 13 at the time, and my parents had brought me to a lecture Kelly had given earlier that evening. My dad introduced me to him, so that I could avoid any potential awkwardness. Kelly looked at some of my drawings and seemed to have genuine interest in who I was and why I was the only adolescent in the audience. I must have explained myself fairly well, because he invited me to stay and chat more with him after the rest of the audience left. We sat in comfy easy chairs across a tea table and Kelly talked with me as if I was a college student. He was full of energy, brimming with funny anecdotes and curious about my thoughts on cartooning.

We talked about artistic style and how that evolves for an artist.  And I told him that as much as I admired his Pogo work,  I was even more infatuated with his early fairy tale work. This seemed to surprise and delight him. 

At one point he stopped and looked at me with a conspiratorial sidelong glance and I thought, uh oh, what have I done wrong. But he smiled slyly and proceeded to tell me of the upcoming sequence of Pogo that would get under way in the summer, involving what he considered to be a prehistoric fairy tale.

He described it vividly, gesturing with drawings in the air, as I sat spellbound. At one point he pulled a small notebook from his jacket and made a couple of quick notes to himself, seemingly of ideas he was spontaneously coming up with.

At the end of our time together he drew a quick sketch of Pogo for me and inscribed it, the one shown above. We parted warmly as he told me to always stay interested in fairy tales.

The upcoming story sequence Kelly told me about was actually slowly starting in the Sunday comics just 3 days before I talked with him, but wouldn't kick into high gear until June.

Well, of course I collected the Pogo strip every day at that time, and have saved them all these years. In recent times I wasn't sure what to do with them other than to store them. But with the fun I've had with my other 'blogs, I concluded that this sequence deserved its own 'blog. All in all it lasts over a year, but I will begin with Sundays, starting at the first week of 1966. Then I will post dailies as well, starting in June, when the art gets really interesting. 

This is my tribute to Kelly and his prehistoric fairy tale.