Bless Fantagraphics: Complete Pogo Announced

Fantagraphics will be publishing the Complete Pogo (link no longer available) starting in October. The books will be designed by Jeff Smith (Bone). The series is planned to run to 12 books.

I’m very excited, since this is the classic comic strip reprint project I’m more eager to see. I can intellectually appreciate the older Peanuts or Popeye comics, but this one I expect to really enjoy.

There’s more history on the strip and creator Walt Kelly in the link.

31 Responses to “Bless Fantagraphics: Complete Pogo Announced”

  1. Ray Cornwall Says:

    You just made my day! I can’t wait for this.

  2. Eric Gimlin Says:

    Looking forward to this; but if this is just reprinting the newspaper strips calling it “complete” is misleading. Kelly did a _lot_ of other Pogo material, both in comics and in some of the Pogo books. It’s not like most strips, where the original creator did little more than covers (if those) outside of the strip itself.

    Still, this is one of the two classic comic strips I most want to see a definitive collection on. And I have about half the comics and all the books; so _my_ collection will be making a serious stab at complete by the time it’s done…

  3. James Schee Says:

    Hmm I’ve never heard of Pogo before, I guess it just didn’t run in my paper, but this does sound interesting.

  4. John Morrison Says:

    This is great to hear. I was buying the softcover collections but for some reason they they seemed to come out very erractically, and some were simply never imported here to New Zealand.

    James, I would recommend that if you want to get a taste of Pogo, then pick up one of the previous softcover collections. They were around US$10 new IIRC and reprint a year of strips each. I don’t think they need to be read in order, but they did get noticeably more complex with more and more characters as they went on. The satirisation of the infamous Senator McCarthy is wonderful, even nearly 50 years after being first published.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Eric, I think we’ll have to wait and see about the additional material. What’s the other strip you want to see?

    James, Pogo didn’t have the widespread other media appearances of some other comics, so that might be the reason you haven’t heard of it. You can see samples online.

  6. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Says:

    I’ve always liked Pogo in passing, but with Smith’s involvement, I’d definitely check it out. I just finished Vol. 5 of Graphix’ Bone TPBs and can’t wait for the next four volumes. I’m almost tempted to pick up the One Volume Edition, but Hammaker’s coloring adds a whole ‘nother dimension to the work that I forcing myself to wait.

  7. Nat Gertler Says:

    Pogo is something that, while good at first, does improve as it goes on (at least for a while.) Folks may want to see if they can sample Pogo in some of its later forms (although I just stopped by Bookfinder and took a look at the asking prices for some of the collections that I’ve prefered over the years… and at that will steer folks to the library, to see if they have Pogo’s Double Sunday, for one good example!)
    I reckon you’re more likely to be interested in Pogo at its good-and-formative if you’ve seen it at its best.

  8. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    Well, I can’t speak for Eric, but collections of Barnaby and King Aroo would make me pretty happy. I got an email from Fanta a while back indicating how hard they were working on getting the Pogo collection set up (while not exactly confirming the rumor, it definitely showed that they WANTED to do the collections their way). and the writer indicated that they also really liked King Aroo (after all, most people my age became aware of the strip from the reprints in Fanta’s magazine NEMO), but it would be a while, if ever, before they could get to it. I’m sure that its obscurity definitely works against it. and IIRC, Barnaby was pretty much not referenced in the email. I would imagine that that one’s got some rights and cost issues, although DelRey did 6 paperback volume reprints in the mid 80s.

    But to get back on target, a complete Pogo is fabulous news and a must buy.

  9. Johanna Says:

    Nat, I don’t see how Pogo’s different (in its later years being better) from most other reprint projects, whether Peanuts or Love & Rockets.

    Jim, YES! Barnaby would be amazing! Didn’t a recent issue of the Comics Journal reprint some of that? Might that give hope?

  10. Richard Marcej Says:

    While I’m glad to hear the news, didn’t Fantagraphics try this already? I own at least 10 volumes of their last Pogo collection.

    Hopefully this attempt not only will give Kelly’s great work the prestige format it deserves (Fantagraphics last attempt was only in paprerback) but will reprint the entire newspaper run (at least 20 years I believe)

    And James Schee, IMO, Pogo is one of the three greatest comic strips in the 2nd half of the 20th century (the other two being Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes) do whatever you can to find samples of the strip!

  11. Johanna Says:

    Yes, Fantagraphics did try an earlier reprint series, as did Eclipse back in the day… but it’s a different market now, and there are more similar projects to help carry this one along.

  12. etgimlin Says:

    The other strip I want to see a complete collection of is Bloom County, of all things. A favorite of my misspent youth.

    I would dearly love to see Barnaby, as well; but I only know it by reputation. I want to see some before I know if I want a full set.

    I love that we’re getting complete collections of so many comics these days. I didn’t need to list several because they already exist or are in the works.

  13. Augie De Blieck Jr. Says:

    After the DICK TRACY fiasco over at IDW, it’s nice to see a different cover design from the PEANUTS collections.

    And DICK TRACY Volume 2 has the same design elements, still, it should be noted.

  14. Nat Gertler Says:

    Yes, many other reprint series start with things that get better, and I would give much the same advice if someone who had never read, say, Peanuts was thinking of trying it. The Complete Peanuts are great books to have if you know you like Peanuts, but there are books besides volume 1 that are more likely to turn one into a fan.

    (And there are strips for which this will not hold true for; I don’t think anyone can really understand the enthusiasm for B.C. in its early days by reading the later material; after years of grazing over B.C. in the newspaper and such, reading the earliest of the book collections of the strip came as a real surprise. And then there are strips like Calvin And Hobbes, which evolved much less than Pogo or Peanuts; if you don’t like the first year of C&H, you’re not likely to like the last, I reckon.)

    It’s a shame that the Eclipse Pogo reprint series, which reprinted not the strip but the comic book material, never made it to the later work in that format. I hope that if the Fantagraphics series is successful, that will provide sufficient incentive for the comic book material to get collected.

  15. Johanna Says:

    Ah, Bloom County. I’m not sure how well it’s aged, but mem-ries… I read those all through the 80s.

  16. Rob Staeger Says:

    Augie, what do you mean by “Dick Tracy fiasco”?

  17. Cole Moore Odell Says:

    I had no idea what to expect from the early Popeye comics in the new Fantagraphics book, and was pleasantly surprised to instantly adore them–not as historical artifacts, but as simply wonderful, often hilariously funny comics. It helped to have my 8- and 4-year old sons laughing their asses off as we read them together. I actually wonder if I’ll have the same immediate reaction to Pogo, considering Kelly’s penchant for topical political humor.

    I think Bloom County has aged dreadfully. Or maybe *I’ve* aged dreadfully. Looking back on them now, I realize that Breathed didn’t even bother trying to be funny most of the time–and usually succeeded. Sub-sub-Doonesbury even on its best day. And I say that as someone who was a huge fan in the 80s*, who clipped Bloom County out of the newspaper every day, who owned Bill the Cat t-shirts, etc. In fact, the bulk of Bloom County is just as painful, ugly, shrill and humorless as most of my memories of the 1980s, which makes it a perfect time capsule.

    And Augie, can’t we safely assume that the Dick Tracy series will *always* have those design elements, to keep the books consistent on the shelf? Once they made the decision to rip off Seth, they were kind of stuck with it.

    *Likely only because Bloom County’s broad, sloppy social satire was easy for me to understand as a 15-year-old, whereas Doonesbury still left me scratching my head at the political references half of the time.

  18. Johanna Says:

    Ah, don’t remind me … for reasons known only to my husband, there’s a three-foot-tall Bill the Cat doll, legs splayed, looming over our music room. I hate that character.

  19. Cole Moore Odell Says:

    Of course I couldn’t see it at the time, but Bill the Cat really isn’t any funnier than Garfield.

  20. KC Says:

    The Bill the Cat doll was funny in its own grotesqueness, i.e. I can’t believe that they actually made this thing! Also, it came out during the time that I was working at Westfield (who carried it), and somewhere in the world is a picture of me surrounded by about 50 or 60 of them! Of course, Opus was much cuter… (I have several different Opus dolls — one of which is three feet tall and three times bigger than Bill. They fight at night while Johanna is sleeping… It’s very amusing.)

    Speaking of old strips, any experts out there think there’s any chance in hell that SAM’S STRIP will ever get collected? Wouldn’t that make a great “done-in-one” volume?

  21. Monk Says:


    Can’t express the happiness that this one is feeling.

  22. Bill Sherman Says:

    The penchant for topical political humor that Cole mentions didn’t really explictly surface for several years on “Pogo,” though there are more oblique references to current events throughout the strip that in no way hamper one’s enjoyment of the stories. It wasn’t until LBJ’s presidency that the strip became dense with political caricature. For some “Pogo” fanciers, the strip lost much of its appeal at that point, but I’m not one of those. In any event, there are several volumes to go before we arrive at the heavily topical “Pogo.”

    I’ve got most (but not all) of the Fantagraphics trades, some of the Dell Comics plus something like twenty-five of the Simon & Schuster collections – I’m definitely hyped about this complete hardbound collection . . .

  23. Johanna Says:

    For those, like me, who didn’t know: Sam’s Strip was written by Mort Walker and heavily metatextual. Sounds incredible.

    Bill, it’s great to hear that someone who’s read so much of it is still planning to get the new series… that’s quite a recommendation for it.

  24. Cole Moore Odell Says:

    Thanks for the clarification–not that the politics would really scare me off. I’m currently getting the Krazy Kat, Popeye and Peanuts series, and Pogo will be in line right behind Walt & Skeezix for my next series to try.

  25. Alan Coil Says:

    I always thought of Bill The Cat as a representation of a nightmare-type character.

    He always looked to me as though he was drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz.

  26. Bill Says:

    Wow, super stoked for this one. Yay!

  27. Captain Spaulding Says:

    Reagrding Barnaby, a couple of years ago, someone from Fantagraphics indicated that they tried to get the rights but the Barnaby-rights-holders were holding out because they thought a movie was coming out and they’d get more money for reprints.

  28. Fascination Place » The Complete Pogo Says:

    […] (via Comics Worth Reading.) […]

  29. James Schee Says:

    Thanks for the info, looks like an interesting series. I’ll see what the collections look like when they come out before deciding to buy.

  30. naman Says:

    read noddy story

  31. Mike Fountain Says:

    Some of the Pogo books, like Pogo Peek-A-Book and Pogo Stepmother Goose, weren’t reprints but original material, some of it Lewis Carroll inspired or James Thurber style fables, some of it wonderful stuff that wouldn’t fit in a strip, like the Russian parody “Suffern’ on the Steppes”, which starts with Stalin’s gulags (“Yes, the llittle mounds in the snow– Hunniker, there, was commisioner in charge of celery”) and somehow turns into Madison Avenue ad-men (“While you were wading ashore there I detected a lighted lantern in your duffle bag– let’s run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes”) discussing how to sell the worker the latest Five Year Plan. There’s even a hard-boiled noir, “The Bloody Drip Writhes Again”, with Albert the Alligator in a trenchcoat and the wily seductress Viola Voila, Girl Insect (“Her lovely eyes flashed. She was full of static electricity. I would plug her into my electric meter and…”)

    Re. Bloom County , I always thought Bill the Cat (“Gag! Choke!”) started as the anti-Garfield, a reproach to all the cute-animal merchandising that was metastisizing at the time. Strawberry Shortcake, for example, was a deliberate attempt (there was an article in the New York Times by a toy company to create, sell and promote dolls of a “beloved character” no one had ever heard of before, and increase profits by cutting out royalties paid to the messy creators of beloved characters. It didn’t matter how appalling Bill’s behavior was, he was lionized by Hollywood, New York and Washington so long as he grabbed the latest zeitgeist (remember when he went from death-metal musician to neo-conservative and was romantically involved with Jeanne Kirkpatrick?)




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