1989: The Complete Pogo Comics

The Complete Pogo Comics (1989) #1-4 by Walt Kelly, Much Ado: The Pogofenokee Trivia Book (1990) by Mark Burstein.

Eclipse had reprinted some Walt Kelly material earlier in standard comic size, but after the success of the Krazy Kat reprint, they chose the same format for their major Kelly reprint effort. (Squarebound album sized, around 60 pages.)

Editor Burstein lays out the programme: Eclipse is going to reprint all the Kelly Pogo material from the comic books of the 40s (before Pogo became a newspaper strip), and this is going to take 21 volumes. They only got to four volumes (in 1990) before stopping, so I’m guessing that these books didn’t sell that well.

Maggie Thompson does the introduction in the first volume, as she had done in the previous reprint efforts.

She also notes that some may find the depiction of the human characters in these comics offensive, and that Kelly dropped them (and in particular, the boy Bumbazine) pretty quickly.

The indicia doesn’t say who’d done the recolouring, but I find it quite attractive for a children’s book like this. That topmost panel looks like something out of a colouring book.

Pogo looks very different in the earliest issues from the cuddly creature he would later become. His features seem to go through a random walk before settling down after a year or two.

And Albert is much meaner in the first stories than he would be later. Always with the eating of people and creatures.

You–you cannibal!

Indeed! Albert would continue to swallow people inadvertently throughout the years, but it’s all done for laughs, while in these stories, clearly aimed at young children, his actions have a nightmarish quality about them.

The first stories are three rows of panel to a page, and are very breezy reads. Kelly switches to four rows and adds a whole lot more (insane) dialogue, so it feels like he’s going for an older audience than he was in the beginning.

The reprints from Animal Comics also include some slightly less Pogoish characters on the covers.

The reproduction is mostly very good, but some pages have a more smudged look, so I guess it’s reprinted from the printed comics and not the original artwork? The introduction doesn’t say.

I mean, what can I say? These are very funny Walt Kelly works, and I haven’t read most of these before, so I’m very happy. But it was a shame that the series was cut short before they got more volumes out. It’s a simpler, even funnier version of Pogo than what we’re used to from the newspaper strips.

Hermes Press started all over again with the reprints of these comics in 2013, but I haven’t seen those. They’re up to six thick volumes that perhaps covers all of the 21 projected Eclipse volumes? I’ve ordered the last few of these, because reading these really whetted my appetite. And I see that the first volumes of the Hermes series now go for several hundred dollars on ebay… *sigh*

PRINT MORE OF THEM.

And here’s a slim little volume of Pogo trivia.

It’s a reprint of a self-published book by the series editor.

We get a few illustrations like this…

But mostly it’s what the title says: It’s a book of trivia. Pages and pages of facts.

Everybody needs to know these things!

Most of the book is structured like a quiz session, but I guess the number of people who’d be able to answer these questions is… er… low…

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