Virginia Spectator: “February Pogo issue”

Virginia Spectator, February 1951
Virginia Spectator, February 1951

As previously mentioned, I now have my copy of the February 1951 Virginia Spectator, the “Pogo issue” of the University of Virginia student magazine that started out as the literary magazine (jointly published by the Jefferson and Washington Societies) but was by the 1950s more a college humor magazine with the occasional short story thrown in.

Calling this the “Pogo issue” is based on the incredible Walt Kelly UVa-themed cover (above) which I’ve discussed once or twice before, plus the inclusion of two articles: a biography of Walt Kelly and a discussion of the characters in his most famous comic strip. “The Land of the Elephant-Squash,” of which the first three pages are reprinted below, was later reprinted in the Okefenokee Star fanzine and in Fantagraphics reprint collections. “What Makes Pogo Tick?” is less often reprinted. Reading both, there is nothing to tie them to Virginia, but this appears to be the first time both appeared in print.




I’ve scanned several more of the pages in the issue into this Flickr album. Enjoy…

The Pogo issue of the Virginia Spectator

I’m one step further along on my ultimate UVa checklist. Last week I received my copy of the February 1951 Virginia Spectator, the one with the cover by Pogo artist Walt Kelly showing Pogo and Albert the Alligator trying to sell ice cream to all the college students and their dates trysting in the serpentine walls at the University of Virginia.

I hope I find time to scan bits of the magazine in the next few weeks.

Finding no takers


Doing my look back post, I found one link I never followed up, in which I talked about a plan to restore the Pavilion gardens (wonder what happened to that?), and noted a rare Walt Kelly cover for the Virginia Spectator that I had seen reproduced in black and white but not (yet) in color. In the intervening years, fantastic Pogo blog Whirled of Kelly posted a high resolution scan of the cover, which I include here to close the loop on my reference all those years ago.

This is one of two issues of the University of Virginia’s magazine (variously titled the Spectator, the Virginia University Magazine, etc.) for which I would pay a high high price. The other, of course, would be a copy of the January 1871 edition that gives us the founding date for the Virginia Glee Club.

The least known Walt Kelly Christmas song

You’ve heard “Deck Us All With Boston Charlie.” You may even have heard “Good King Sauerkraut Looked Out On His Feets Uneven.” But have you heard of “The Twelve Days of Crispness“?

Three wench friends


Me neither, until tonight, which kind of astonishes me. But after seven performances this season of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with the Boston Pops, it sounds pretty good. There are actually two extant versions:

On the first day of crispness,
My true love sent to me,
One turkle dove,
Two pounds of ham,
An’ a parsnip in a pear tree!

On the secon’ day of crispness,
My true love sent to me,
Two turtle doves
an’ a parsnip in a pan-tree.

Or the more bizarre but equally satisfying:

Conifers stay of Crispness,
MacTruloff sentimie
A parsnip Anna Pantry.

Honor Sick an’ Davey Criss-Cross,
MacTruloff said to me,
Tutor Killduffs
Anna Pottage inner
Pair threes.

Under Thursday of Crispness,
MacTruloff sanity,
Three wench friends,
Tu-dors above,
An’ the parson
Up a psaltree.

I don’t know about you, but my three wench friends should love this one.


Grab bag: Free comics, parental hysteria

Grab bag: Seduction of the innocent edition

Adventure looking forward

Chris Baldwin’s brilliant comic (I won’t belittle it by calling it a “web comic”) Little Dee ended today. He’s been winding it down for months, so it’s no surprise that it’s over. What is a surprise to me is how resonant the ending is, even in its first two panels:


It’s tempting, as I start to see forty up on the horizon, to think that all my adventures and all the beauty are behind me. Weeks like last week, when my father in law was in and out of the hospital and I was forced by illness to withdraw from a Tanglewood Festival Chorus concert run that would have taken me to Carnegie Hall, seem to reinforce that thought.

But then I watch my family, and I catch my breath a little bit at all the beauty that is yet to come.

Free as in beer, Wind as in air

A few comics related links this morning. First, it will be of interests to comics historians, fantasy fans, and my sister that the full archive of Elfquest is going on line for free to mark the comic’s thirtieth anniversary; the archive will fill up over the coming year. That’s a whole lotta Pini, folks. If you thought catching up with the Sluggy Freelance archives took a long time, just wait.

The other freebie is an archive of the original art for the first issue of Elektra: Assassin, written by Frank Miller and lovingly painted by Bill Sienkiewicz. If you think Miller’s later work was weird, intense, and violent, just wait until you feast your mind on this one. (Greg Burgas wrote an excellent review of the series that might lend some context to the art.)

Comics roundup: Sikoryak, xkcd, ARBBH

Item: BoingBoing pointed to an R Sikoryak adaptation of Crime and Punishment a la a Dick Sprang Batman comic book. In turn, the Again with the Comics blog post that reprinted the adaption linked to the Masterpiece Comics on R Sikoryak’s site, including a tiny reproduction of my favorite comics adaptation of a literary masterpiece: “Good Ol’ Gregor Brown.” One morning Charlie Brown awoke to find himself transformed into an enormous insect… I actually own that issue of Raw and shared the strip with my English professor in a class on modernity where we were reading the original “Metamorphosis.” Good stuff.

Item: Wired’s profile of xkcd creator Randall Munroe contains exactly one item about Munroe that hasn’t already been linked on BoingBoing: that he used to be a roboticist for NASA.

Item: So Penny and Aggie has been hawking free downloadable reprints in PDF form for a while now. I checked them out, and I was pretty impressed—Wowio’s a nice service and the quality is good, even if it limits you to three downloads per day. But it got me thinking: how much money is in the business model? And who else is on the service? So I started poking around, and all these indie comic books that I remember from when I was in middle school are in there. Like, stuff that was trying to cash in on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, before TMNT was a movie or even a TV show. Like Dragon (terrible, and terribly I owned the first few issues of it!). And, of course, like Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters. And there’s better stuff too: Steve Canyon, Flash Gordon, the Star Trek Key Comics from the late 1960s; and more. Of course they also do ebooks; I just added Civil Disobedience to my queue.

Newspaper comics getting bigger

In other news, hell freezes over.

Seriously, the launch of the Globe’s tabloid sized pullout, Sidekick, mostly makes me unhappy. In design and content it feels like a Mini Pages for adults. But having the comics strips at a readable size almost makes up for it (though the Globe’s comics selection is nothing to write home about, as it features the likes of Mallard Fillmore). Interestingly, the Globe didn’t take advantage of this change to revamp its online comics page, which omits some of the better features from its paper offering (including For Better or For Worse).

I’ve pretty much moved my morning comics reading entirely online, thanks to MyComicsPage and various syndicate sites. In fact, I think that reading the comics online might be the reason that Mozilla invented opening a folder of bookmarks into a tabbed browser window. Of course, my online comics reading energy is pretty much entirely channeled toward webcomics like Questionable Content, Little Dee, and Scary Go Round, which are larger, better drawn, funnier, more imaginative, and more legible than their syndicated counterparts.

Another reaction at Anderkoo (who appears to have some interesting comics commentary in general).

Important policy issues on the comics page

This week in Doonesbury, original cast member B.D. loses his helmet (without which he has not been seen, though over the years it morphed from a football helmet to a police helmet to a GI’s helmet, in over 30 years)… and his left leg, from the knee down. In response, local papers in Colorado and other places are pulling the strip because of profanity.

Huh? That’s a little like refusing to show photos of returning injured or dead soldiers because it might upset people. Oh wait… that’s already happening. In fact, the person who took that photo has been fired.

Why is it that it’s only the comic strip artists who have the guts to talk about the real human costs of this war? (via Metafilter)

(Note: I am not saying that it’s good, blanket statement, to show pictures of dead Americans. But I think we dishonor the dead by pretending that their sacrifice never happened.)