Pogo Gone – It Weren’t Nohow Permanent

Ill health took a toll on Walt Kelly and Pogo.

By the early 1970s friends and family were pitching in more and more

hoping the creator would recover enough to return to the strip full time.

That, alas, did not happen. In 1973 Walt Kelly died.

above: Christmas 1973 – two months after Walt Kelly’s death

So widow Selby Kelly with Don Morgan, Henry Shikuma, Willie Ito, and a couple others were tasked with the impossible: continue the Pogo comic strip and match the standards of the departed genius.

The post-Walt team carried on for almost two years before throwing in the towel.

Selby blamed it on the shrinking space allotted comic strips.

The last daily Pogo comic strip ran July 19, 1975.

Followed by a proper send-off the next day (July 20, 1975):

The Kansas City Star was one of a decreasing number of papers that ran the comic to the end.

Star columnist Bill Vaughn, one of those “others” mentioned above, wrote an obituary for Pogo.

Bill Vaughn’s Starbeams column for July 20, 1973; © The Kansas City Star/Bill Vaughn

Below is the penultimate Sunday Pogo (patched together from two papers) mentioned by Bill Vaughn above:

Pogo © OGPI; Pogo, The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips is up to Volume 8 and 1964

10 thoughts on “Pogo Gone – It Weren’t Nohow Permanent

  1. Thanks for this remembrance, DD. Pound for pound, “Pogo” is my favorite comic strip of all time, and Kelly one of my personal Top Five cartoonists. Which, with FULL respect for those who tried to carry on without him, makes those rough final strips hard to read. Without Kelly’s whimsy, wit and skill, the strip became a ghost of itself. Even the lettering, always a Pogo highpoint–Youch! I guess Henry Shikuma had moved on by July 1975. But I don’t want to end on a sour note. I’d rather celebrate one of the great comic strips of the 20th century!

  2. That paragraph from Bill Vaughan’s review of “Ten Ever-lovin’ Blue-eyed Years with Pogo” deserves a reprise for the sake of them what can’t read it on their phone pads:

    “[Kelly] comes dangerously close to laughing at the stupidity of bigots, bullies and blatherskites. This is bad. Stupidity has to be taken seriously in this world. It would never do for civilization to lose confidence in its principal product. After all, the ninnyhammers of this planet have done more to put it where it is today than the humorists.”

  3. What is often forgotten is Kelly’s poetry. I would love to read a collection of his rhymes and doggeral. He really was an inventive writer along with being an incredible cartoonist.

    1. “Ten Everlovin’ Blue-Eyed Years With Pogo” features a good amount of the poetry.

  4. Kelly’s book on the John Birch Society, “the Jack Black Society” warned us how truly crazy they were and now they’ve blossomed into Q’anon.
    Once Churchy explained to Pogo why he should fear Friday the thirteenth, saying,


  5. Correction …. Walt Kelly’s book on the John Birch Society was titled “The Jack Acid Society Black Book by Pogo as told by Walt Kelly”….

  6. I’m sure the space was the real reason: Selby was an excellent artist who was an animator and had worked for Disney, like Walt. But of course, you have to able to write like Walt, too.

    1. I have all the books and, when I lived in Jerusalem, a friend told me that I had the “largest collection of Pogoiana in the Middle East and should leave it to the Hebrew University & National Library.” I brought them back with me where they have their own shelf in my small Greenwich Village studio. I have 2 regrets: I left my Pogo Mobile in my mother’s care and it was thrown out when she died without asking me; I had the chance to buy an original but unsigned b&w panel of all the gathered critters shouting ‘Welcome home, Pogo!” It was $500 in a gallery, then a tenth of my annual salary, and I was afraid of spending so much. I have always longed to have it on the inside of my door. P.S. Churchy is my spirit animal.

  7. Selby confirmed to me that it was indeed the reduced size of the comics that made POGO impossible to continue. In our New Jersey paper, it appeared on the editorial page along with DOONESBURY.

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