Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Yes, there really IS a Pogo cartoon!

This is fascinating! It's a kind of sketch or early draft by Walt Kelly for a Pogo animated cartoon. This had already been done, abominably, by Chuck Jones, who somehow got the rights from Kelly. The two cartooning styles didn't mix, and the results were characterizations that were just "off" in every conceivable way. June Foray voiced Pogo in a sugary little-girl voice, a cross between Rocky the Flying Squirrel and those screechy princesses she did on Fractured Fairy Tales. The animation was similarly out of whack. These creatures just weren't from Okefenokee Swamp, or anywhere else for that matter.

I don't hate Jones. Some of his stuff is brilliant, and the Grinch (the original) will never be equalled. But somehow or other, this thing didn't gel.  Kelly frankly hated the result, which was aired once and shelved, but which you can still see (of course!) on YouTube.

This, though, is a treasure, a stumble-upon while dredging through an underground maze of Pogo-files. Though this isn't the final animation and only involves a few frames per second, it still has a sense of movement and grace. And it's Pogo-ish. Kelly does ALL the voices himself, which I think is a clever dig at Jones and the atrocious choices he made in voice characterizations.

This little fragment has an environmental message which was far ahead of its time.  Kelly only lived to be 60 due to grossly-neglected diabetes which caused him to go blind and lose a leg. Considering all this, these preliminary sketches are remarkable. They're some of the last creations of a dying man.

Think of how it would have been! Just picture it. It would have been like being right inside those Sunday colour comics with all our quirky old friends. But it was never to be.

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