Walt Kelly and Pogo

The Art of the Political Swamp

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About the Book

One of the most popular comic strips of the 1950s and the first to reference politics of the day, Walt Kelly’s Pogo took on Joe McCarthy before the controversial senator was a blip on Edward R. Murrow’s radar. The strip’s satire was so biting, it was often relegated to newspaper editorial sections at a time when artists in other media were blacklisted for far less. Pogo was the vanguard of today’s political comic strips, such as Doonesbury and Pearls Before Swine, and a precursor of the modern political parody of late night television.
This comprehensive biography of Kelly reveals the life of a conflicted man and unravels the symbolism and word-play of his art for modern readers.
There are 241 original Pogo comic strips illustrated and 13 other Kelly artworks (as well as illustrations by other cartoonists).

About the Author(s)

James Eric Black is the Schumann Endowed Professor of Media Writing and assistant director of the Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He has written extensively on Joseph McCarthy and the repercussions of McCarthyism on pop culture. He lives in Macon.

Bibliographic Details

James Eric Black
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 268
Bibliographic Info: 274 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7987-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2300-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword by Mark Burstein 1
Preface 4
Introduction 7
One. Getting Back There from Here 17
Two. The Cartoon Journalist 40
Three. Making Money and Having Fun 56
Four. Everyone’s Equal in the Swamp 77
Five. The Evolution of Politics in Pogo 115
Six. The Cold War Gets Hot 167
Seven. Simple J. Malarkey 196
Epilogue 218
Chapter Notes 229
Bibliography 243
Index 253

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “This examination of Walt Kelly’s Pogo writings and humor provides a great little niche study for popular culture studies. Recommended”—Choice
  • “A fascinating read about how a simple, quiet man molded and shaped American’s opinions.”—Boyce McClain’s Collectors’ Corner
  • “Relates the story of the then-famous comic strip Pogo and its many satirical targets”—Communications Booknotes Quarterly