Has the world forgotten Pogo?
Thirty years ago a colleague lent me 'I Go Pogo'. It got straight through to me, and ever since I've been annoying people by saying, 'I is covered with rue', and 'Is I got a campaign?' and 'I tole 'em, and I tole 'em ...' - because nobody else ever seems to have heard of Pogo. Not in the UK, anyway.
That's tragic. Pogo was originally a successful US strip cartoon. written and drawn by Walt and Selby Kelly. This is its book version. Little opossum Pogo is one of a crowded cast of Okefenokee swamp creatures, some virtuous, some not, living in a Little-House-On-the-Prairie or Waltons or Dukes-of-Hazard style America. Pogo is like a slightly smarter Christopher Robin character, more wideawake and aware, but still childlike and charming. Here, he finds himself caught up, more or less against his will, in a campaign to make him President.
The story doesn't really matter. What counts is the quality of the imagination which creates Pogo's buddies, such as Albert the alligator, Churchy (the turtle who writes hysterically funny campaign songs and poems), P.T. Bridgeport (a down-and-out showman bear )... an equally rich cast of opponents ... and lots of little wisecracking characters (bats, moths, bugs, cowbirds) who aren't really part of the story, but are very smart and funny. They are very sharply characterised and wonderfully drawn.
But in the end it's the words and punctuation that get me. 'This is your golden opportunity, (dear to the heart of every backward .. uh - backwoods boy) to sacrifice for one's friends!' Pogo's buddies tell him. 'An' how 'bout one's friends?' asks Pogo. 'Is they 'gone sacrifice somethin' too?' 'Well,' say his buddies,' it ain't a good year fer radical ideas. Yeh, that's carryin' things perty far, son.' 'I is covered with rue,' says Pogo apologetically.
The whole book is overflowing with characters, ideas, linguistic games, so many of them included, it seems, just for the fun (or the hell) of it.
Pogo seems to be pretty much out of print. If I were you, I'd buy a used copy while you can. They don't make them like Pogo any more. I tole you an' I tole you ...