Archive for walt kelly

thrift store finds: walt kelly’s santa claus adventures

Posted in christmas comics, comics, commentary, thrift store finds with tags , , , , , on November 6, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

(Thrift Store Finds is a mostly-weekly “column” of sorts where I discuss some of the cool books I’ve happened upon in my neighborhood St. Vincent DePaul store. Please don’t mistake me for an expert on any of the books I am writing about… I’m just a fan of a bargain.)

When I was in middle school, I was a great fan of Jeff Smith’s Bone comics.

I don’t want you to be mistaken, I still remain a great fan of Smith and all his work… but the tween-aged Chris was OBSESSED with Bone. He ordered comics from Cartoon Books directly. He drew the characters in the margins of all his tests. He collected the Bone trading cards, lucking out enough to find a SIGNED Smith sketch card.

He also followed any and all interviews with Jeff Smith. When Smith mentioned his influences in an old issue of the now defunct comic magazine Heroes Illustrated, Walt Kelly’s Pogo was mentioned.

Pogo is one of the most beloved newspaper comic strips of all time, an ongoing humor strip featuring the denziens of the Okefenokee Swamp and their interactions and frequent misunderstandings with one another. Kelly worked at Disney for a time and it shows in his wonderfully expressive characters who are often oblivious but always endearing. Kelly was a master of dialect and pioneered a lazy drawling, phonetical manner in which the characters talked that was hilarious and rewarded close reading.

My local library had exactly ONE Pogo book, Phi Beta Pogo. I probably checked that book out about three dozen times while I was in high school. I always loved the way that Kelly inked his comics… the small details and the bold use of blacks in the daily strips. They stood in stark contrast to the comics that litter newspapers today. I’m anxiously awaiting Fantagraphic Books’ The Complete Pogo series as I’ve had little luck finding the old Simon & Schuster paperbacks in my thrift store.

I did run across this old comic, however:

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