Celebrate the 5th Anniversary of Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery! “Playing Possum: The Pogo Art of Walt Kelly” opens December 10.
In 1970, Walt Kelly’s playful possum Pogo looked upon his polluted Okefenokee Swamp and uttered in despair, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” This line quickly became part of our cultural lexicon and cemented Pogo’s place in American popular culture. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery celebrates the publication of Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Wonder with “Playing Possum: The Pogo Art of Walt Kelly.” This exhibition of original Walt Kelly strips opens Saturday, December 10 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM on the occasion of the bookstore’s 5th anniversary gala.
The long-anticipated Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Wonder, Volume 1 of the Complete Comic Strips collects early Sunday and daily Pogo comics from 1949 – 1950. Kelly introduces his huge cast of irreverent swamp dwellers and their singular dialect known as “swamp talk.” Politics soon became a central topic in the swamp. While Kelly claimed to oppose “the extreme right, the extreme left, and the extreme middle,” political figures cynically cloaking themselves in patriotic garb were clearly disdained. Kelly boldly caricatured red baiting Senator Joseph R. McCarthy as Simple J. Malarkey. An obvious parody of J. Edgar Hoover seemingly drove the FBI director to distraction. He reportedly assigned cryptographers to decipher the secret swamp talk “code.” (A strip from 1971 referencing this will be on display.) Kelly’s characters also embraced the burgeoning environmental movement and other progressive causes. “Playing Possum: The Pogo Art of Walt Kelly” includes 12 memorable dailies and 4 Sunday strips. These original works reveal the artist’s concern for composition, delicate line quality, and detailed dialogue.
The opening on Saturday, December 10 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM promises to be a festive affair. Musical entertainment will be provided by Sawsome, a female saw and banjo duet. The evening commemorates the 5th anniversary of Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery and coincides with the holiday edition of the colorful Georgetown Art Attack featuring art exhibitions, special events and wandering carolers from Choir of the Sound throughout the historic neighborhood.
PLAYING POSSUM: The Pogo Art of Walt Kelly Opening reception Saturday, December 10, 6:00 – 9:00 PM 5th Anniversary Holiday Gala with musical entertainment by SAWSOME Exhibition continues through January 4, 2012
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