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Topics/tags: Miscellaneous, rambly

The Pogo comic strip from November 11, 1953.  That strip is described more below.

It’s November 11, or 11/11. It’s Veterans’ Day [1]. It’s also Armistice Day [2]. If you have not done so already, take a moment to thank any veterans you know [3].

When I think of 11/11, I often reflect on Walt Kelly’s Pogo. I recall that the 11/11 Pogo strips were often subdued and thoughtful. I remember appreciating them as a child, but I don’t think I understood the deeper meaning that Kelly was trying to convey. But I recall that I always enjoyed the November 11 strips, most of which I read in reprints.

Given the special status of 11/11, I was surprised at the difficulty I had finding anything about Kelly’s use of the date. I looked for entries about Armistice Day, Veterans Day, Dates, and November 11, in The Pogopedia [4], but found nothing. I had hope for Pogo Files for Pogophiles [5], but I’d forgotten that that book is primarily a set of articles, rather than broad coverage.

Finally, with some effort, I found a note from Kelly in Ten Every Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Years with Pogo [6] that is almost certainly what was sitting at the back of my head.

The eleventh day of the eleventh month has always seemed to me to be special. Even if the reason for it fell apart as the years went on, it was a symbol of something close to the high part of the heart. Perhaps a life that stretched through two or three ways takes its first war rather seriously, but I still think we should have kept the name Armistice Day. Its implications were a little more profound, a little more hopeful. (p. 100)

I can see a ten-year-old Sam remembering eleventh day of the eleventh month but not understanding everything else in that paragraph.

What about the strips? Here are a few.

November 11, 1949

Panel one. Owl is speaking while Albert and Pogo are sitting on a bench. Porky walks in from panel right with an alarm clock.

Owl: On this occasion I step proudly to this rostrum, head high, chin out, eyes fastened on a not so distant past …. a past full of striving, full of immeasurable sacrifice …. full, I cry, of glory! Aye, my friends, through tear-speckled bi-focals, I behold Ah-Hmm-A-Boop-Haw-Hph- …

Porky: HOLD IT! Hold it! Time for a full minute of silence.

Panel two. All four characters quiet, looking thoughtful.

Panel three. Pogo and Albert seated. Porky standing. Owl walking toward the right.

Albert: Now, what was you a-sayin’ Howlan’ Owl?

Owl: Aw, I dunno … I wasn’t really listenin’.

In Walt Kelly and Pogo: The Art of the Political Swamp [7], James Eric Black describes the strip as follows.

November 11, 1949, was Armistice Day. The strip was a simple recognition of the holiday dedicated to the cause of world peace.

November 11, 1950

Panel one: Churchy, Pogo, Porky, Albert, and Owl sitting on a log, viewed three-quarters from behind, at sunset.

Churchy: The sunset there to the west makes me feel like makin’ a speech.

Pogo: Whpf!

Albert: We had a speech once …. by Owl … last year.

Panel two: Same characters, now viewed from the front. A pond is visible in the foreground.

Owl [In a word balloon that implies whispering]: This year even owl is speechless.

Black writes

The mood of the strip was much different the following year when it became more obvious that world peace could not be completely achieved. […] This is an important strip for Kelly for many reasons. It is a rare two-panel with little interaction between the characters. Kelly uses both the depth and darkness in the first panel to set the mood. The sunset there to the west refers to the conflict across the Pacific in Korea. […] The darkness of the mood is significant because the previous year’s strip occurred during a time of peace. Three months before this second strip, the United States joined a United Nations police action to protect South Korea from aggression by its northern counterpart.

November 11, 1953

Panel one: Churchy, Pogo, and Porky sitting in a boat named "Ol’ Deems Taylor [8]. Churchy looks a bit stunned, Pogo and Porky look thoughtful. No dialog.

Panel two: Same boat. Different angle. No dialog.

Panel three: Same boat, another angle. Porky speaks.

Y’know, it seems to me this is all backwards … We, ever’body, ought to keep our mouths shut all the whole year long so’s we’d have time to think of two minutes worth of something’ to say on the eleventh day of November.

November 11, 1954, labeled Armistice Day 1954

Panel one: Beauregard is in his dog house. Rackety Coon Chile is running toward the house. It’s raining.

Beauregard: Hurry on in here, Chile ….

Rackety Coon Chile: I’se doin’ my best, Uncle Beauregard.

Panel two: Inside the house, looking toward front door. Rackety Coon Chile is drying himself off with a Fort Mudge Most towel. Beauregard is looking out the door.

Rackety Coon Chile: Whee-oosh! What a day!

Beauregard: Perfeckly beautiful.

Panel three: Inside the house, same perspective. Rackety Coon Chile now has the towel at his side. Beauregard is lying down, facing outward.

Rackety Coon Chile: Beautiful!? What’s so beautiful about it?

Beauregard: Wull … It’s November Ee-leventh .. [word balloon continues into next panel]

Panel four: Outside the house, looking in. Both Beauregard and Rackety Coon Chile are looking out the door.

Beauregard [word balloon continues from prior panel]: .. An’ it’s better to have what we got of it than to never of had it at all.

November 11, 1957, labeled Armistice Day, 1957

Panel one: Porky and Pogo are riding on the pond in what looks to be a soda crate labeled Barkle Sparkle.

Porky: Whatever happened to that plan ’bout atoms for peace?

Pogo: Must of dropped it.

Panel two: Still in crate, different perspective.

Porky: Didn’t drop the bomb tho, did they?

Pogo: Ain’t heard no reports.

Panel three: Still in crate, moving to the distance.

Porky: An’ what happened to disarmament? … Anybody drop a gun yet?

Pogo: You got me.

Panel four: Further in the distance.

Porky: I was goin’ to ask you what happened to Armistice Day, but you ain’t up on this stuff, are you?

Pogo: Nope

I wonder what Kelly would do with our current gun climate?

Kelly didn’t write a special strip every year. November 11, 1951 was a Sunday strip about returning the bones of a martian to Mars. November 11, 1952 has Beauregard flirting with Mam’selle Hepzibah and Porky’s Uncle Baldwin bussing the Mam’selle [9]. November 11, 1958 has Pogo talking to a butterfly.

And that’s all I have the energy to track down right now.

Let’s see. Where do we stand? I was correct in remembering that November 11 was special to Kelly. I learned (or re-learned) that it was special because it was Armistice Day. However, Kelly was not steadfast in his use of November 11th to remember Armistice Day. Oh, as I reread strips that I haven’t read for decades, it was amazing to see how much they were buried in my brain.

Maybe I’ll teach my next Tutorial on Pogo.

[1] Or perhaps Veterans Day, without the apostrophe.

[2] For those readers who are not historically inclined, Armistice day celebrates the end of the first World War, which, unfortunately, was not the expected war to end all wars.

[3] As Dan Crenshaw suggests, you might also say Never forget.

[4] Lauer, Mik, Taflin, Leo, and Lauer, Christopher M. 2001. The Pogopedia. Richfield, MN: Spring Hollow Books.

[5] Kelly, Selby Daley and Thompson, Steve A. 1992. Pogo Files for Pogofiles. Richfield, MN: Spring Hollow Books.

[6] Kelly, Walt. 1959. Ten Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Years with Pogo.
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

[7] Black, James Eric. 2016. Walt Kelly and Pogo: The Art of the Political Swamp. McFarland and Company: Jefferson, North Carolina.

[8] Deems Taylor was the master of ceremonies in Fantasia. Kelly did animation for Walt Disney before starting on the strip.

[9] These days, we’d call it assault. But the Mam’selle does stick up for herself.

Version 1.0 of 2018-11-11.