This has got to be one of the most obscure things on YouTube, and if I hadn't stumbled on it many years ago and saved it, I never would have been able to find it again. The title is a mystery, until you figure out what the initials mean. When you try to share it, a notification comes up about it being an "unlisted video" and that you should share it with care, though I had no trouble posting it. The comments are closed, so there's no help there.
Though this preliminary sketch features only a few frames per second, or even less, the fluidity of movement is almost unbelievable, and the facial expressions so vivid that the characters transcend the spasmodic jerkiness that made Paddy the Pelican so surreally atrocious (whether surreally is a word or not - ed). One man doing all the voices is better than the sixteen in the cringeworthy Chuck Jones special that Kelly hated so much. I honestly wonder why he agreed to work with Warner Bros. at all.
I wonder, too, if this was in the works before that misguided attempt. Or was it his answer to the atrocity, the cheapening of his unique and inspired strip into a bland commercial disaster? For there was no second Pogo special, and even the first one wasn't very. Special. This one may not have made it because it was too "message-y", and might still be considered that today, as we have a million more reasons to be very afraid when it comes to the ruin of the environment. Kelly was a visionary, to be sure, and too often they fade from public view when their message becomes too uncomfortable.
June Foray as Pogo (Rocky the Flying Squirrel) grates on the nerves. I could never stand Foray as a voice artist and thought all her characters sounded exactly alike. Her lowest point was dubbing a girl character in The Twilight Zone (the last episode ever broadcast), with astonishingly bad results. Kelly gives Pogo a higher male voice with a Southern drawl, which is just right. Albert the Alligator is nothing short of brilliant. It IS Albert, cigar-chomping, outrageous, the kingpin of Okefenokee.
I remember in the Pogo strip seeing those amazing backgrounds of the swamp, and though I didn't appreciate the artistry back then, I do now. Pogo was criticized sometimes for being too talky, too smart-alecky or just too smart (gasp!), but who else could have come up with a statement like, "New-clear fizzicks ain't so new, and ain't so clear"?
I rediscovered a few gifs I made from the Kelly cartoon special, the one that was never fully realized. The improbably graceful few frames per second is especially poignant here. He could never have envisioned - or maybe he could, given the dreck that was being made for TV at the end of his life - what would happen to cartoons, how they would become computerized and devoid of human feeling. How brilliant wit and quixotic story lines would be replaced by witless schlock.
I think that's my mother's handwriting at the top. My God.