Miz Mam'selle Hepzibah - Awards and Recognition

Awards and Recognition

Long before I could grasp the satirical significance of his stuff, I was enchanted by Kelly's magnificent artwork... We'll never see anything like Pogo again in the funnies, I'm afraid.

—Jeff MacNelly, from Pogo Even Better, 1984

A good many of us used hoopla and hype to sell our wares, but Kelly didn't need that. It seemed he simply emerged, was there, and was recognized for what he was, a true natural genius of comic art... Hell, he could draw a tree that would send God and Joyce Kilmer back to the drawing board.

—Mort Walker, from Outrageously Pogo, 1985

The creator and series have received a great deal of recognition over the years. Walt Kelly has been compared to everyone from James Joyce and Lewis Carroll, to Aesop and Joel Chandler Harris (Uncle Remus). His skills as a humorous illustrator of animals has been celebrated alongside those of John Tenniel, A. B. Frost, T. S. Sullivant, Heinrich Kley and Lawson Wood. In his essay "The Decline of the Comics" (Canadian Forum, January 1954), literary critic Hugh MacLean classified American comic strips into four types: daily gag, adventure, soap opera and "an almost lost comic ideal: the disinterested comment on life's pattern and meaning.” In the fourth type, according to MacLean, there were only two: Pogo and Li'l Abner. When the first Pogo collection was published in 1951, Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas declared that "nothing comparable has happened in the history of the comic strip since George Herriman's Krazy Kat."

"Carl Sandburg said that many comics were too sad, but, 'I Go Pogo.' Francis Taylor, Director of the Metropolitan Museum, said before the Herald Tribune Forum: 'Pogo has not yet supplanted Shakespeare or the King James version of the Bible in our schools.' " Kelly was elected president of the National Cartoonists Society in 1954, serving until 1956. He was the first strip cartoonist invited to contribute originals to the Library of Congress.

  • Kelly received the National Cartoonists Society's Billy DeBeck Memorial Award for Cartoonist of the Year in 1951. (When the award name was changed in 1954, Kelly also retroactively received a Reuben statuette.)
  • The prestigious Silver T-Square is awarded, by unanimous vote of the NCS Board of Directors, to persons who have demonstrated outstanding dedication or service to the Society or the profession; Kelly received one in 1972.
  • The Comic-Con International Inkpot Award was given to Kelly posthumously in 1989.
  • Kelly is one of only 31 artists elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Cartoon Museum (formerly the International Museum of Cartoon Art).
  • Kelly was also inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1995.
  • The Fantagraphics Pogo collections were a top vote-getter for the Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Award for Favorite Reprint Graphic Album for 1998.

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