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Tonight I'm presenting another one of my Top Comments recovery efforts. This time, it has to do with comic strips. All the great comic strips we see here -- the work of Tom Tomorrow, Jen Sorensen, Ruben Bolling, Matt Bors, Eric Lewis (apologies to whoever I left out) -- have a progenitor in graphic political cartooning of a comic strip nature.  I know that you're thinking Garry Trudeau here


but really, it started almost 20 years before Trudeau unveiled his characters, and here's the star:


Yes, an opposum with Disneyfied characteristics (with cause) who gave his name to a comic strip that was the first media vehicle to have at Joe McCarthy. This is Pogo (there's a great official site but it's closed for repairs). All will be explained below.

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Please come in. You're invited to make yourself at home!

Here's Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr. (1913-1973), better known as Walt Kelly, the creator of the comic strip.

Kelly started his career at the Bridgeport (CT) Post as a crime reporter but he also drew cartoons.  In the 1930s, he relocated to Los Angeles, where he worked for Walt Disney. On such films as Snow White, Dumbo and Fantasia. When the animators went on strike in 1941, Kelly took a leave of absence (from which he never returned) and joined Dell Comics, where he adopted Disney films like Pinocchio to the comic-book format and worked on comics of his own.  One of these was Animal Comics (1943) for which he created several creatures who lived in Okefenokee Swamp, on the Florida-Georgia border, and here are early images of the stars of his comic strip, Pogo the possum and Albert the Alligator.
During World War II, he worked on illustrating manuals for the Army's Foreign Language Unit, and after the war he found employment as a political cartoonist for the short-lived newspaper, the New York Star. The first Pogo comic strip appeared in the paper  October 4, 1948, and when the newspaper folded four months later, Kelly arranged to have the strip syndicated. It ran continuously until after Kelly's death in 1973. At its peak, it ran in over 500 newspapers in 14 countries.

Okay, it's a comic strip with animals.  

Pogo is everyman, and Albert the alligator is his comic foil.  Think Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, or perhaps Asterix and Obelix, René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo's main characters in the Asterix series, 34 books reprinted in many more languages about a village of Gauls holding out against the Romans in 50 BC. That's Obelix (he's the Albert character) with his dog Idéfix (inadequately translated into English as "Dogmatix" and no offense meant to the Kossack who uses that as a screen name).
But I digress.

The owl with the wizard's hat (WELL before Harry Potter) is Howland Owl,the strip's resident scholar/know-it-all but good-natured about being wrong most of the time.  His foil is the turtle, Churchill "Churchy" LaFemme (yeah, bad puns, but what strip doesn't indulge in that?), probably the least sensible being in the strip. The dog, Beauregard Bugleboy, is just fun, and the porcupine (yep, Porky Pine is his name) is the strip's id. In a lot of ways, Pogo is who we want to be and Porky is who we are (or at least who I am).

And speaking of puns, three more characters - possibly my favorites. The three bats - Bewitched, Bothered and Bemildred -- constitute a Greek chorus in the manner of Groucho Marx. I LOVE the bats, especially for a remembered aside in one strip where the three of them can't remember what kind of critters they are, and one says "We's bats, see? We fly!"

Kelly isn't misogynistic, either. The two strongest female characters in the strip are Miz Ma'm'selle Hepzibah (a skunk with a very romantic nature) and Miz Beaver (as down to earth as Miz Ma'm'selle isn't). Here's a strip with both of them in it.
So why am I making a big deal about it? Since this is a political blog, I suppose I should get to exactly how Pogo gets to be the progenitor of Doonesbury (even if Trudeau uses people instead of animals). For one, Kelly ran Pogo for president every four years. Campaign buttons and all.
First time in 1952. But that's not the main reason.  In 1953, Kelly introduced two senators, Simple J. Malarkey
(yes, Malarkey, the word Joe Biden reintroduced into the political discourse in the Vice presidential debate) and Mole MacCaroney, to the strip in June, 1953; as a point of reference,  Edward R. Murrow's report ran on CBS March 9, 1954, almost a year later. The lynx and the mole are symbolic of Joe McCarthy (R-WI) and Pat McCarran (D-NV), the two most -- I guess "committed" is a nice neutral word -- anticommunists in the Senate. McCarthy you know about, McCarran was the author of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, a bill that Truman vetoed and Congress overrode the veto for. It may have removed the restrictions against Asian immigration from the Act of 1924, but it barred entry to suspected subversives, Communists and so-called "fellow travelers" like Dario Fo, Graham Greene, and Carlos Fuentes.
In this cartoon (June 8 1953) the two, who have been investigating the inhabitants of the swamp to root out subversives, turn upon each other. As Jonathan Yardley, the long-time book critic at the Washington Post, said in a lovely appreciation of the comic strip in 2005,
By laughing at McCarthy, Kelly [an Adlai Stevenson Democrat] almost certainly played a significant role in [McCarthy]'s eventual disgrace, and in later years he took well-aimed whacks at many others, including Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev -- and by singling out the last two made plain that he was as capable of laughing at those on the left as on the right.
This is probably as political as the strip got, but almost twenty years later, Kelly did a little something for Earth Day.
and a little something for J. Edgar Hoover, John Mitchell and Spiro T. Agnew (in that order).
A great comic strip, and very few things remind me of my childhood as much as Pogo does. I hope this whetted your appetites!

NOTE: Kelly, via Albert the Alligator, loved to fracture traditional songs.  Here, thanks to gizmo59, is one of the best

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash, and Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower Alleygaroo!
Don't we know archaic barrel,  Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou.
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,  Boola Boola Pensacoola Hullabaloo!
And now for the real reasons you come here:

November 28, 2012

Thanks to tonight's Top Comments contributors! Let us hear from YOU when you find that proficient comment.

From cskendrick:

Dallas Doc has a useful suggestion on yet another case of corporate gay-bashing, this time on the high seas. Apparently, Carnival Cruises has too much business. There's a lot of that going around lately.
Mets102 explains how Americans seem torn between symbolic conservatism and operational liberalism in their politics.
madhaus does the world a solid and summarizes Drudge's post election fail so you don't have to do so.
From madhaus:
In DeadHead's diary about the RNC Chair and the post-mortem he wants, delver rootnose  provides it in 42 words, much to Melanie in IA's delight.
From Steveningen:
In Meteor Blades' Open thread for night owls, some folks were celebrating the fact that Fishgrease was reinstated. Jeff Y gave one knee slapper of a  response.
From Dave in Northridge, your humble diarist tonight:
wyvern encapsulated the problem brilliantly in kos's diary about the Stu Stevens retrospective view of the Romney campaign.
blue aardvark starts and GreenMtnState completes an iconic image of the 2012 campaign in weatherdude's diary prompted by a very funny Google autocorrect.

November 27, 2012

(excluding Tip Jars and first comments)

Thanks, mik!

  1) you missed the diversity.  Some are crazy by TomP — 143
  2) Thank you for the transcript. by lineatus — 136
  3) Oh, and THIS makes a ton of sense: by anastasia p — 115
  4) You Can't Make an Incorrect Defeat Attribution. by Gooserock — 116
  5) TOO delicious! by anastasia p — 109
  6) imho, their meeting didn't go well because she by p gorden lippy — 109
  7) very interesting article.  worth reading the by TomP — 92
  8) Don't f*k with drag queens by Dallasdoc — 91
  9) Cue the nervous nellies by raptavio — 89
10) At least he accepted the Ohio call by Dave in Northridge — 85
11) I am troubled also. I am troubled by Gary Norton — 84
12) I'm rather enjoying the way this is playing out. by Morgan Sandlin — 82
13) This is why Rice's meeting did not go well today. by JCPOK — 80
14) "Elections have consequences" by MisterOpus1 — 80
15) You're welcome. by cai — 78
16) 101st reason why "bipartisanship" is a chimera by RFK Lives — 77
17) she now knows O'Reilly (and Fox) lied to her by Clytemnestra — 76
18) Laura, you know where the door is by DeadHead — 72
19) Very, Very Sorry To Hear This by webranding — 72
20) Send this to one of the MSNBC folks. This is good. by Regina in a Sears Kit House — 71
21) Never fuck with any genderqueer person. by Horace Boothroyd III — 69
22) They screech while we preach why the by slinkerwink — 69
23) At least Fox has foiled Ricks's publicity effort by Clem Yeobright — 68
24) Figures. by One Pissed Off Liberal — 68
25) An election site by kos — 67
26) In my defense, by rb608 — 66
27) We've reached the stage of unreality by ivorybill — 66
28) The map behind Rove by iglarmobley — 63
29) I don't care about them, I'm embarrassed simply by LaFeminista — 62
30) Nicely said. by remembrance — 63

November 27, 2012

Enjoy jotter's wonderful *PictureQuilt below. Just click on the picture and it will magically take you to the comment that features that photo. Have fun, Kossacks!
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