50 Comments

  1. I don’t know, but my pedantic soul on seeing this wants to point out that Kelly’s original formulation was “We will meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.” (From memory;text-piece introduction to one of the early POGO collections.) Wordier, but for some reason I like it more than the later/revised/shorter version(s).

  2. Oh, Perry, d’oh. I read too fast and assumed you were asking us to choice between the “classic” POGO version and some variant misquotation version. My bad.

    But even if I’d read them correctly, I’d identify the latter as Kelly’s POGO in a heartbeat, while I’d recognize the other as earlier and famous, I’d still have to stop and think before recalling it was Perry.

  3. Really intelligent people would know that you misquoted Pogo. He said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

  4. I’ve never read a Pogo strip. They weren’t in the local paper in my youth and later, collections are either expensive or hard to find or both.

    However, “We have met the enemy and he is us” was a popular t-shirt in the 70’s.

  5. I think in general the Pogo quote is far more well known than the original Perry quote but…. any military history fan, of which there are many, would find that terrible and … people under 40 might not know either.

    I, like must comic fans, know both but only know the Perry quote as the origin of the Pogo misquote.

    I think instances where the satire or modified are more well known than the original are actually very common.

  6. I would consider the aggregation of the Internet searches to be as good a “random pool” you could ask for (I’m going to ignore the “intelligent” part). If you type “we have met the enemy and. . .” into Google, Autocomplete’s first suggestion is “he is us,” while “they are ours” is only the third. If I hit enter without taking any autocomplete suggestion, the first result is Google Images, of which all the top ones are Pogo cartoons. Similarly, Google Trends gives the Pogo quote as the more common one.

  7. If you type “we have met the enemy and. . .” into Google, Autocomplete’s first suggestion is “he is us,” while “they are ours” is only the third.

    With Google, you can only ever really say what your results are, not what others will see. When I enter the phase exactly as you have it, then “he is us” is first, with “they are ours” second. Third is “he is us Pogo”. If I try it without the ellipsis, so “we have met the enemy and”, then the order of the first two switches.

  8. Brian in STL: I did my searches in Incognito mode, which I think should remove most of the personalization. But the personalization is part of the reason I included Google Trends results, which is user agnostic.

    BTW, I didn’t actually type the ellipsis into Google.

  9. Well, let me ask you this: Which author can you give me the name of, the author of “Don Quixote” or any one of the authors of the romances that “Don Quixote” is a parody of?

  10. It should be noted that Kelly used the line more than once, and probably expounded upon it in one or more of his essays which were frequently included in the book collections. Sperp’s terse quotation is the correct form, appearing in a daily strip (in which Albert accidentally flips his “seegar” into a tub of lemonade). I can’t verify Shrug’s version, but Kelly may indeed have used in that form in a Sunday strip or one of the aforementioned essays.

  11. I just happened to have a copy of The Pogo Papers sitting on the end table next to me, and sure enough, the introduction on the inside cover ends with the quote “Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may be be ours, he may be us.”. Very impressive, Shrug.
    To add my vote, I knew the Pogo quote long before I learned of the original, and while I recognized it, would have been hard pressed to come up with who said it.

  12. I was amazed to learn that Kelly’s first use of the quip preceded the more familiar form by nearly 20 years. It appeared as the title of a book that encompassed the sequences in honor of Earth Day, which was originally published in 1972.

  13. I’ve never really been into Pogo. Like JP, it wasn’t in my paper growing up and when I became aware of it I was put off by what would today be called Archive Panic. And I’d still go with Pogo (corrected to have the proper grammatical error). As others have noted, it was ubiquitous in the 70s. I’m pretty sure I once knew the original, but that fact has probably been overwritten a few times in my brain. Asked for a Commodore Perry quote, I would certainly jump straight for “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

  14. I can’t remember not knowing both quotes. But since the Pogo quote is derived from the Perry quote I would say I knew the Perry quote first. If you want to know more about Perry call my brother – he is a huge War of 1812 fan (yes, there is such a thing.)

  15. I knew the sources for both, but the original is the one that is foremost in my mind. However, I grew up in northern Ohio, where Oliver Hazard Perry is a pretty big deal (every kid learns about the Battle of Lake Erie in a state mandated Ohio History course in middle school). In fact, my high school marching band marched in a parade in the town of Put-In-Bay (the harbor on South Bass Island from which Perry and company departed before the battle) and played at the foot of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial (a 352-foot column memorializing Perry, his victory, and to celebrate peace between the US, Canada and the UK).

  16. @DemetriosX
    “Damn the torpedoes…” is attributed to David Farragut, not Perry.

    For that matter, naval mines (what Farragut referred to as a torpedo, if indeed he ever uttered the quote) were not yet viable technology in 1813.

    Perry did popularize “Don’t give up the ship.” The phrase was uttered as the dying words of his friend and fellow officer, James Lawrence (killed in the Battle of Mobile Bay a few months before Perry’s victory), and Perry emblazoned them on his battle flag.

  17. ” to celebrate peace between the US, Canada and the UK).”

    It didn’t hold up; there was a flare up over the border between the United States and Canada over ownership of the San Juan Islands. Even though we caved on 54-40 or fight.

  18. “It didn’t hold up”
    (1) The monument wasn’t commissioned until 1912.
    (2) It overlooks the longest undefended border in the world,

  19. nebulousrikulau, all those romances had authors, but I can’t name a single one of those authors. The only name that comes to mind is Walter Scott, who wrote his romances of chivalry centuries after Cervantes, and who according to Mark Twain is singlehandedly responsible for the ruination of the American South.

  20. “I was amazed to learn that Kelly’s first use of the quip preceded the more familiar form by nearly 20 years. ”

    It’s from the prologue of the “Pogo Papers” in 1953. I think the Pogo Papers was the 4th book after Pogo, I Go Pogo, and Uncle Pogo’s “Just So-so Stories”. I never read the strip in newspapers either but I loved my uncle’s copies of the books which I always considered the true way to read them. (The were edited into what would now be called a graphic novel format complete with chapter headings. It was *years* before I realized the *were* four-panel comic strips, they flowed so well.)

    Anyway, the last paragraph of the prologue:

    “There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve, then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us. “

  21. @ woozy – Kelly performed a huge amount of editorial work when gathering newspaper strips for the Pogo book collections. Although this shows how much care Kelly took with his creation (he owned the copyright), I find that it sometimes interferes with the way that the strips originally appeared in the newspaper.
    Pogo strips were frequently reordered in the books, to reduce the number of scene changes. When a resulting date jump within a sequence resulted in a problem with the continuity, Kelly (or one of his assistants) would draw a “bridge panel” to make the book sequence seem more consistent. Similar to the “throwaway” second panel in many Sunday strips, these bridge panels sometimes offered an extra (minor) gag, but not always.
    Paperbacks often appeared with two panels per row, with three rows per page. Chapter divisions (and their titles) sometimes led to layout problems (too many or too few panels to fill the pages alotted for a given chapter), so that some strips were occasionally abridged (by dropping the first two panels). This could also happen to eliminate a “recap” that was necessary for the newspaper audience (when returning to an earlier scene), but was no longer needed when that scene was spliced together in the book.
    In other formats, strips were widened by adding a quarter to half panel of (quick) scenery to the strip’s border panels. These are usually easy to identify, since there’s never any dialog in that space, and the inking style is noticeably inferior.
    I don’t think there are any modern comic strips that undergo these kind of revisions for book publication.

  22. “(2) It overlooks the longest undefended border in the world,”

    And yet, the Pig War still happened, and had to be mediated by a third party.

  23. “Although this shows how much care Kelly took with his creation …, I find that it sometimes interferes with the way that the strips originally appeared in the newspaper.”

    That’s a bit like saying I like the care my mother put into her homemade meals but she never bothered to position seal the cellophane properly the way TV dinners did.

    Why would the way the strips originally appeared in the newspaper be relevant?

    My point being that reading the books were a true and honest experience (albeit different) for me. I’m a bit surprised that people claim they never got into Pogo because it wasn’t in their newspaper. It wasn’t in mine (and Walt Kelly died when I was 10) either but it became my absolute favorite.

    And actually because I came of age in the seventies I missed the classic age of *all* the classic comics but still knew they were classics and tried to do all I could to experience them. (And boy, *that* was tough as anthologies were for and few between an very scanty when the existed.) The Pogo “novels” were a *huge* boon and delightful to read.

    (hmmm, trying to remember how common comic collections were… My library had all the peanuts collections but very few others (no pogo books at all). I bought and had access to B.C. and the Wizard of Id volumes. There were the odd paperbacks that they used to sell in the wire racks of drug stores. But I could be Pogo books and the *book* stores. Albeit the were very expensive and I had to save my allowences to do so.)

  24. @ woozy – My point was that I would have preferred to read a Pogo collection that was published the way the Calvin and Hobbes books were done: all of the strips, in the exact order in which they were originally shown in the paper, without any meddlesome editing. I enjoyed reading Kelly’s introductory essays (and afterwords) very much, but some of the books wasted a page and a half of whitespace to insert chapter titles that were utterly irrelevant to the stories going on in the strips. That space could have been used to include more strips, perhaps even a few of the “bun rabbit” strips that Kelly sometimes wrote for newspapers too timid to print some of his more political items.

  25. But… But… Those titles were usually puns or other clever word play, just as entertaining as the strips. Irrelevant indeed! Can I get a harrumph?

  26. A true POGO fan wants it both ways: read the stories in book form, but *also* read reprints of the individual daily and Sunday strips, in order and unedited. For the latter, Fantagraphics to the rescue:

    http://www.fantagraphics.com/series/pogo-the-complete-syndicated-comic-strips/

    And said fan will also want the reprints of the even earler POGO comic books (and the earlier yet than that Pogo appearances in ANIMAL COMICS) which Hermes recently completed:

    https://www.hermespress.com/collections/walt-kelly-collection

    and rowrbazzle — until I looked up the URL for the Hermes one, I didn’t even tknow they’re also doing his PETER WHEAT comics; relatively minor stuff but still something I’m going to have to get.

  27. When I was a kid, Walt Kelly started producing “B” strips for when the “A” strip was too controversial for some newspapers to print. My local paper, the Berkshire Eagle, always ALWAYS printed the “B” strips.

    A comical depiction of Lyndon B. Johnson was apparently too much for some readers.

  28. @ MiB – Not necessarily for the paper’s readers: just too much for the paper’s editors.
    P.S. @ Guero – Sure, the chapter title gags were mildly amusing, but in the space that was sacrificed for them, the book could have carried at least one or two additional strips: not a fair tradeoff.

  29. “My point was that I would have preferred to read a Pogo collection that was published the way the Calvin and Hobbes books were done: all of the strips, in the exact order in which they were originally shown in the paper, without any meddlesome editing.”

    Normally I would agree and I was always very *curious* to read them as they appeared in the newspaper. Although if I were *that* curious I could have always gone to the libraries microfiche and read them one by one (I once *did* do that to complete my Doonsebury knowledge). But you are assuming that there is a one “real” version of the strip. The thing about the “novels” is they were works in their own right. Above and beyond.

    In fact, in one perspective your way of reading an anthology is rather *absurd*. You *had* the all *FREE* as a bonus of a newspaper subscription. Why should anyone pay $8.95 just to have someone cut them and print them all with absolutely no editing or additional value at all.

    …..

    A true POGO fan wants it both ways: read the stories in book form, but *also* read reprints of the individual daily and Sunday strips, in order and unedited. For the latter, Fantagraphics to the rescue:

    You bet I do!!! and…. here’s another thing. Over the decades the undiluted unedited strips have been available in many forms because everyone knows the purist fan wants them. But the actual novels are scarcer than hen’s teeth and require scouring used bookstores. Are they ever reprinted? No, because it’s assume everyone wants them as complete strip collections.

    ====

    “Sure, the chapter title gags were mildly amusing, but in the space that was sacrificed for them, the book could have carried at least one or two additional strips: not a fair tradeoff.”

    ??????

    The Pogo Papers satire of Dickens multi-volume novel which descriptive “In which, our hero” and the Potluck Pogos chapter titles compassing a multi-stanza nonsense poem in which each line accurate reflects the action of the content, were “mildly amusing”?!

    Nertz, just nertz.

  30. I admit that many (but not all) of the Pogo books offer plenty of worthwhile extras; the counter-example that I was griping about is “Impollutable Pogo“.

  31. P.S. As enticing as those Fantagraphic editions look, a dozen volumes @ $45/each would run to over $500, and then there’s shipping and customs on top of that.

  32. There’s a limited number of cartoon strips which have a sufficient demand for “every strip, ever” to justify assembling them all. A trend they tend to have is that they are fairly short-lived endeavors. The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes, and Bloom County collections have homes with me. I’d get the Peanuts complete collection, except there are so darn many volumes… I have one of the complete collection, and that’s all.

    Which brings us to the second option, which is a collection that is not complete… someone, perhaps the original creator, perhaps an editor, selects what they feel to be a representative sampling. So, a Far Side collection might skip over “Cow Tools”, for example. Most comics collections fall into this category. A long-enough-running strip might have some themed collections, because there are enough strips on a certain topic to fill a volume. This means a fan of Snoopy vs. the Red Baron can get a book that’s all Snoopy vs. the Red Baron, even though that’s only a tiny piece of Peanuts.

    Both Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes are able to support both, at the same time, in the same store. Most bookstores, though, don’t even have all the volumes of either collection style. It turns out that for people who aren’t Bill Watterson, comic strip collections don’t sell well enough to keep perpetually in stock. Alas.

  33. >P.S. As enticing as those Fantagraphic editions look, a dozen volumes @ $45/each would run to over $500, and then there’s shipping and customs on top of that.

    Well, you don’t buy them all at once. You get given the first one as a 50th birthday preset. And then five months later you thumb to through the second one in your local comic store and debate if you really need it as you *have* read hem all and then you see the dragon in Handel Gristel saying “Querp” and you decide you will consciously need to collect these but figure it will jut be a one time expense every few years.

    Which lead to the other… deep down you know they aren’t going to finish it… they’ve started these collections before but always peter out around volume 6. There’s something exciting about starting “ooh, the very first two years… Look at the first appearance of Porkypine!” but no-one ever say’s “ooh, look, it’s volume 8”. Which is actually kind of too bad because I’ve read 1948 to 1960 again an again but 1960 – 66 is *still* a hole. My Uncle went to college and stopped buying Pogo books, and my next door neighborhors older brother from a previous marriage was too young to start buying them and so far as I can tell the publishers didn’t really seem to be consistant about publishing them. Over the years I’ve filled gaps but it really feels like thinly buttered toast.

    I must admit these fantagraphic books are marvelous and beautifully constructed works. But…. you know at $45 each I really would prefer something much cheaper and bulkier. Actually, nothing wrong with a CD-Rom….

    (I was actually pretty surprised after very long delays of 3 and 4 (4 had a good excuse) I was utterly startled that 5 came out just a few months after 4)

  34. ” Actually, nothing wrong with a CD-Rom….”

    Looking at the old art on a screen, even a good screen, just isn’t the same. I have digital compilations of Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Mad magazine. I didn’t care as much for the Avengers, so I passed on that one, and now it sells for $Xxx on ebay. They were taken off the market rather abruptly, because they decided to make it a monthly subscription on the Internet instead of a one-time purchase of 40-years’-worth of comic books.

  35. Of course I can’t find the strip to confirm it, but I remember a Tumbleweeds strip in which Limpid Lizard has become a spokeman/salesperson/something for Pogo brand prune juice. The slogan he shouts is “We have met the enema, and he is us.” Any and all of the details regarding the strip, characters, and slogan may be wrong.

  36. I knew both.

    I am guessing more people might have some vague memory of someone “back then” with the Perry quote than would know the Pogo quote or would think the Pogo quote to be the one from “back then”.

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