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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, March 08, 1959, Image 183

Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1959-03-08/ed-1/seq-183/

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Lunch out of the way and the happy assistant hard at work, the boss settles down to
dream up an idea for tomorrow's strip. This is the Kelly brand of "brainstorming,"
which, he contends, is the best kind because all you need is a desk for your feet.
to me, unless—unless you give me • little
drawing with your name signed to lt. M
"Os course,” Walt agreed.
While I was getting a pen and a sheet
of paper, the cabbie rattled on: "Oee, this
is wonderful. Mr. Kelly. My wife’ll really
be thrilled. You're her favorite cartoonist.
She just loves Kerry Drake'."
Without batting an eye. Walt sketched
the hero of Alfred Andriole's famous de
tective strip (which also appears In The
Star), signed his name and handed the
drawing over. "Anything to keep a friend
out of the dog-house.” he said.
Earlier in the evening, while telling
of an amusing incident that had occurred
at home, Walt said something that seemed
to displease Stefany.
“What did you say?” she demanded
“I don’t know.” he answered. “1 just
went off and left my mouth running.”
Even when you ask him seriously to
tell about his life and career, hell do It
in a light vein. Here’s how he responded
to one such request:
“On August 26,1913, Walt Kelly, a clear
eyed youth of honest Bcotch-Irish-English-
French-Austrian blood, found himself In
Philadelphia. He was one day old, and
although his ancestors had been rooted
along the shores of the Delaware River for
190 years, he Immediately hatched a plan.
Two years later, he was in Bridgeport,
Conn., complete with father, mother, sister
and 16 teeth, all his own.
“Ten years later, he was 12 years and 1
day old. He had survived fire (fell Into a
coal scuttle with a jack-o'-lantern in 1919 1.
flood (homemade boat struck a swimming
duck and splintered, 1923), starvation (lost
the lunch on a Ashing expedition with
father, 1924), savage beasts (rabid rabbit
shot to death on other side of town, 1924),
disease and pestilence (chicken pox and
mumps, 1918 > and education (six years
grammar school).
“Sometime in the next four years, be
studied French and the French teacher at
Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport.
Thus fully prepared for life, he arrived at
a factory that, made ladles’ underwear
around 1930 and got a job sweeping floors.
Three weeks of this and he decided money
did not count. He abandoned his lucrative
position and took a job with a newspaper.
. . . Six years later, he was in Hollywood
drawing mice for Walt Disney (which Is
not the same thing as attracting mice,
though there is truth in that thought
also).” .
Pogo was a minor character In a comic
book that Walt drew in 1943. He became
a star when his creator put him in a comic
strip for a short-lived New York news
paper. When the paper went out of busi
ness, Walt tried unsuccessfully to sell the
strip to three or four syndicates. Even in
telling of that dark period, he manages to
be light.
“I borrowed every nickel 1 could lay
my hands on,” he says, “and took a cross
town bus to the Hall Syndicate. I'd had a
call from Bob Hall, president of the syndi
cate, which was lucky because I couldn’t
afford to call Hall.”
In May, 1949, only three or four papers
were buying Pogo. In October, The Btar
was added to the list. Now the number has
grown to 507, and two stenographers are
kept busy answering fan mall. A dosen
Pogo comic books have sold more than 2.4
million copies, and there's also a Song of
the Pogo volume containing 30 original
songs and music, plus a long-playing rec
ord of 18 of the pieces.
But Walt treats his success lightly, too.
Last time I saw him, he quipped:
“Did I ever tell you about the little Mar
tian that came into my office and said to
me. Take me to your reader’?”
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23

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