Pogo was the title of a long-running (1948-75) daily comic strip created by Walt Kelly, as well as the name of its principal character. Set in the Georgia section of the Okefenokee Swamp, Pogo often engaged in social and political satire through the adventures of the strip's funny animals. Since Pogo occasionally used slapstick physical humor, the same series of strips could often be enjoyed by young children and by savvy adults on different levels. Kelly's strip had earned him a Reuben in 1951.
The characters of Pogo the possum and Albert the alligator were created by Kelly in 1943, for issue #1 of Animal Comics, in a story called "Albert Takes The Cake." Both were created as comic foils for a young black boy named Bumbazine, who also lived in the Swamp. Kelly found it hard to write for the human boy, preferring to use the animals to their full comic potential, and eventually phased Bumbazine out. Pogo quickly took center stage, assuming the straight man role that Bumbazine had occupied.
In 1948, Kelly was hired to draw political cartoons for the short-lived New York Star newspaper, and decided to do a daily comic strip featuring the characters he had created for Animal Comics. Pogo debuted on October 4 of that year, and ran continuously until the paper folded on January 28, 1949. On May 16 of the same year, the strip was picked up for national distribution by Post-Hall Syndicate, and ran continuously until Kelly's death from diabetes in 1973. Kelly's wife Selby, son Stephen, and assistant Don Morgan continued the strip to fulfill contractual obligations, before retiring it in 1975. The Los Angeles Times revived the strip under the title Walt Kelly's Pogo in 1989, written at first by Larry Doyle and Neal Sternecky, then Sternecky alone. After Sternecky quit in March of 1992, Kelly's son Peter and daughter Carolyn produced the strip, but interest waned and the revived strip ran only a few years.
It is difficult to compile a definitive list of every character that appeared in Pogo over the strip's 27 years, but the best estimates put the total cast at over 300. Kelly would create characters as he needed them, and discarded them when they ceased to be funny, or had served their purpose. Most characters were at least nominally male, but a few female characters appeared regularly. Kelly has been quoted as saying that all the characters reflected different aspects of his personality.
Even though most characters have full names, some of them are more often referred to only by their species. For example, Howland Owl is almost always called "Owl"; Beauregard is usually called "Hound Dog"; Churchy LaFemme is sometimes called "Turtle" (or "Turkle," in Swamp-speak).