One of Walt Kelly’s strokes of genius was to give certain characters in Pogo not only distinctive speech patterns, but distinctive text patterns as well. It’s a technique that’s become increasingly common in these days of computer lettering, but Kelly was one of the pioneers.

Most widely known is Deacon Mushrat, a small-minded bigot who believes he knows what is best for others and is frequently revealed to be a hypocrite. What better lettering for a pious phoney than an extravagant Gothic.

P.T. Bridgeport is probably the most detailed of the special lettering cases. He’s an extroverted showman, so what better way to illustrate his speech than with old circus poster styles?

Sarcophagus MacAbre is one of the few outright villains to appear in the strip. He mostly surfaces in storylines in which one character attempts to eat another. He dresses like an undertaker and speaks like a condolences card.

Even characters who “speak” normally occasionally get in on the act, like the time Beauregard Bugleboy and Albert played detective in one of the many storylines in which Pup Dog goes missing.

2 Responses to “Typographic Characterization”
  1. Dan Wallace says:

    Really enjoying your looks at Pogo. The typography is one of the many great things about Walt Kelly’s craftsmanship (even the panel borders have character). He’d sometimes play with the medium’s conventions too — I recall one meta-gag in which Albert plucks out a speech bubble, ties it off, and gives it to a kid as a balloon.

  2. elsie says:

    More Pogo please!

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