Friday, August 30, 2013

Walt Kelly's Pogo: Fifty Whacks

Walt Kelly's original artwork for the Pogo strip of June 26, 1971 features a bulldog who is a caricature of F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover. The strip also includes a hyena in full regalia who represents Vice President Spiro Agnew. I'm a little out of my depth here, so I'm going to quote Wikipedia:
In the early 1970s, Kelly used a collection of characters he called "the Bulldogs" to mock the secrecy and perceived paranoia of the Nixon administration. The Bulldogs included caricatures of J. Edgar Hoover (dressed in an overcoat and fedora, and directing a covert bureau of identical frog operatives), Spiro Agnew (portrayed as an unnamed hyena festooned in ornate military regalia), and John Mitchell (portrayed as a pipe-smoking eaglet wearing hightop sneakers.)[13] Always referred to but never seen was The Chief, who we are led to believe was Nixon himself[citation needed]. (Nixon eventually made his appearance—as a reclusive, teapot-shaped spider named Sam.)
J. Edgar Hoover apparently read more into the strip than was there. According to documents obtained from the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act, Hoover had suspected Kelly of sending some form of coded messages via the nonsense poetry and Southern accents he peppered the strip with. He reportedly went so far as to have government cryptographers attempt to "decipher" the strip.[14]

I'd love to know what the cryptographers came up with.

Walt Kelly, Original Comic Strip Art for Pogo, June 26, 1971

Note:  This bog has a lot more about Walt Kelly's Pogo here, but not as much as the Whirled of Kelly blog has here.


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