Saturday, August 25, 2012

Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr.

Very early in the life of String Too Short to Tie I posted this tribute to Walt Kelly as a part of the series "Philosophers I Admire.".  Today is the 99th anniversary of his birth.  So, slightly reworked, I present this again in his honor.

It was during my sophomore year of college that I was introduced to Walt Kelly by Pogo. Kelly quickly became one of my heroes. Why? 1) Kelly is the greatest artist that ever drew a comical strip; 2) He had the keenest and most incisive insight into the way the world works and; 3) if you didn't "get it" at once, it would creep up on you and slam you into the swampwater.

Pogo, of course, was the philosopher of the Okeefenokee, but without his foils, Albert, Churchy and Howland, his ruminations and observations could never have been delivered to a needy world.
These regulars were assisted by a huge cast of characters drawn from Kelly's fertile mind as the need arose. Even the bugs made significant contributions to our edification.

Probably the most famous Walt Kelly quote, as delivered by Pogo, is "We have met the enemy, and he is us." But there are quote-worthy snippets in most every presentation as the critters go about lampooning human behavior and lancing the sores on our society.

A ferocious feline tells Mouse, "It ain't that your majority is outnumbered, Mouse. You're just out-surrounded." or, Pogo again,

"Some is more equal than others, as is well known." or one of my personal favorites,

Pogo: "But how about if the one guy is right an' the 10,000 is wrong."

Though it is not the Christmas season, in honor of Mr. Kelly let us all join the Perloo Society in a verse of "Deck Us All With Boston Charlie" (to be sung to the tune of, well you know.)

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,

Walla Walla,' Kalamazoo!

Nora's freezin' on the trolley,

Swaller dollar cauliflower


Don't we know archaic barrel,

Lullaby Lilla Boy,

Louisville Lou.

Trolly Molly don't love Harold,

Boola boola Pensacoola


Mr. Kelly quoted his father as having said, "Language is the worst means of communincation known to man. Pictures and good luck will get you anywhere."

WALT KELLY  August 25, 1913 – October 18, 1973 RIP


Jim said...

I regret that I missed the Walt Kelly years. I was too young in his final years to appreciate his strip, and besides, my local paper didn't carry it.

Bill Watterson and his Calvin and Hobbes is the great strip of my generation.

Vee said...

"Some is more equal than others." Great observation.

I didn't read this comic strip (don't think the Gazette carried it), but I have seen several included in articles/books. I think the humor might have gone right over the heads of the average reader.

Shelly said...

I was too young, as well, to have appreciated him, but based on what I've read of him as an adult and what you have here now, I fully agree with your assessement.

Secondary Roads said...

I have fond memories too. Yes, that includes Boston Charlie. Well, I'm still trying to make sense of Charlie, but I have no idea why. :)

vanilla said...

Jim, your generation had "Calvin and Hobbes." That's a good thing, too.

Vee, maybe the "average reader" skipped this one? I know I always skipped "Mary Worth."

Shelly, each generation has its own prophets and gurus, perhaps.

Chuck, puzzling as it is, the Charlie-trolley connection may have derived from this bit. The rest still puzzles me.
In 1949 Steiner and Hawes wrote “Charlie on the MTA” or the “MTA Song” as a Boston mayoral campaign song for O’Brien.
The candidate had sound trucks drive around the streets of Boston playing this and other campaign songs. He was fined $10 for disturbing the peace. He lost the election. (MIT website)
You may remember the Kingson Trio's later rendition of the song.

Anonymous said...

I read Pogo as a kid - don't know that I had opinion about it, then or many comics, especially on Sunday since we got 3 newspapers every day. Kid heaven!

vanilla said...

Grace, Kid Heaven, maybe. And yet what one finds there is more reliable than the stuff on page one. More interesting and more useful, too. imo :-)

Marsha @Spots and Wrinkles said...

i have always loved the quote "we have met the enemy...etc."

Thanks for this good article.

vanilla said...

Marsha, it is so true that all too often we are our own worst enemy.

I appreciate your comment.

Sharkbytes said...

I was just a tiny bit young to appreciate the sophistication of Pogo, but my dad loved it.

vanilla said...

Sharkey, it is true that each generation has its own heroes.