Friday, October 15, 2004

Review revue: Writing for Boston Review, John Crowley examines Walt Kelly's Pogo Vols. 1-11, from Fantagraphics Books:

"In most modern strips—and I don’t know if it is because the work seems too hard to modern draughtspeople, or because blank-faced affectlessness is the mode, or because the knack has been lost—the characters have little variety of emotional expression. Dilbert and Doonesbury are witty and poignant, but the faces are relatively unchanging; in fact, that’s part of the humor. Pogo people express a range of emotions as clearly as silent-movie actors, from steely resolve to mind-blown amazement to indignant rage to subtle shame to abashed confusion. Kelly’s pen is marvelously swift in the capturing of expression, and fine effects are achieved by a clash between words and face; transfigured storytellers are nicely captured but so are the bored or doubtful listeners behind. Of course the elaborate yet fluid chiaroscuro of Kelly’s black-and-white strips is itself largely a thing of the past—Robert Crumb in effect reinvented it for himself in the late 1960s, and the only recent daily newspaper strip that approached Kelly’s emotional variety in the drawing is, or rather was, Calvin and Hobbes, which owed a great deal to the Kelly style and still restricted itself to a small cast."

(Link via Locus Online.)