Wed. Nov 13, 2013 was an especially trying day. It began with my new alarm clock going off at 7:00. I decided that I could sleep a little longer since it was my day off, so I set the second alarm for 8:30. I rolled around for awhile trying to go back to sleep and finally looked at my clock to see that it said 9:00! The second alarm hadn’t gone off and I had a 10:00 appointment with a doctor! By the time I was dressed, I finally figured out that it was really only 7:30 and I had changed the time on the clock instead of setting the alarm. Oh well, I had to get up for my appointment anyway. Then I played the message on my answering machine and found that my appointment was in the afternoon instead of the morning. The day just went down hill from there. . . I finally found my sense of humor and realized that Friday the 13th had come on Wednesday this month. Thank you Pogo!
Let me just say that I was born on Friday the 13th and have always considered it my lucky day. When I was a child, my dad’s favorite comic strip was Pogo. He and I shared Churchy Lafemme’s joke about Friday the 13th coming on whatever day the 13th fell in that particular month. Dad and I thought that was one of the funniest jokes ever. (Churchy was serious, however.) It was Walt Kelly’s way of poking fun at superstitions in general.
Pogo, by Walt Kelly, was set in the Okefenokee Swamp and the characters were all animals. Pogo contained wit, satire, slapstick, burlesque, poetry, whimsy and a lot of charm. It satirized current events and politics with its cast of swamp critters. The strip began in 1948 and ran through Kelly’s death in 1973. In Pogo, the jokes can be appreciated by adults and children alike, although they see different levels to the humor. Kelly created a society in the swamp that reflected our own with a fun-house mirror’s accuracy. His drawings were detailed and he used sight gags such as having a character leaning against a frame of the strip. He used animals because it was easier for him to exaggerate their movements and emotions than it was with human characters.
Many reviews say that “there will never be another strip like Pogo,” but the legacy lives on. Such comics strip creators as Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), Gary Trudeau (Doonesbury), Jeff Smith (Bone) and Jeff MacNally (Shoe) cite Pogo as an inspiration for their own strips. They may not have all of the elements that made Pogo great, but each has some element that can be recognized.