Starting his career as an anonymous young storyboard artist for Walt Disney Productions pogo_himselfon Donald Duck cartoons and other shorts, the cartoonist who would later be compared to everyone from Lewis Carroll and James Joyce to Aesop and Uncle Remus moved to the animation department in 1939. There, during the next five years he contributed to such Disney classics as Pinocchio (Gepetto in the whale), Fantasia (a drunk Bacchus riding a donkey), and Dumbo (the crow sequence).  Walt Kelly was doing pretty well at $100 a week.

During the 40s, Kelly devoted himself more and more to comic book art at Dell. The little possum with whom he is now most closely associated came on the scene in 1943 in Dell’s Animal Comics. Pogo would go on to star in 16 issues of his own comic book and 26 years as a syndicated newspaper comic strip.  Along with Pogo, there were  Albert the Alligator, Churchy LaFemme (a turtle), Howland Owl, Beauregard (Houndog), Porkypine, and Miz Mamzelle Hepzibah (a skunk).

Kelly’s liberal political and social views were rarely disguised as he used the strip to champion the powerless and the oppressed and to satirize political dogmas and figures such as Senator Joseph McCarthy (Simple J. Malarkey, a gun-toting bobcat), Vice President Spiro Agnew, and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Many newspapers dropped Pogo, and others moved it to the editorial page. Walt and Pogo were probably most remembered for their campaign on behalf of the environment and the battle cry: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Walt Kelly died in 1973.

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4 thoughts on “August 25, 1913: We Have Met the Enemy

  1. Holy crap, Pogo! I haven’t seen this little guy since the 70s when I read him as a very young kid. The folks had several books of him laying around the house (read: within reach) and I absorbed the sentiments therein pretty deeply. Actually, I sensed it was a bit negative and dark–about the right things, sure, but still a little too treacherous for a seven-year-old.

    Then, my parents showed me the cartoon movie “Animal Farm” and I had nightmares into my 20s.

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