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He continued to summarize the next eight years of his career in one flippant sentence: “He got a job doing comic books, fooled around with the Foreign Language Unit of the Army during the war, illustrating grunts and groans, and made friends in the newspaper publishing business” (Kelly, “Autobiography,” 9). In keeping with his other autobiographical sketches, Kelly elides over his personal difficulties during these years. Without the steadiness of a Disney paycheck, finances were often tight, and he and Helen had to move often.

The organization’s festivities featured a deep-seeded sexism, however, that Kelly sometimes failed to challenge. His peers were notoriously slow to treat women cartoonists as equals, for example, and regularly included sexist themes in their shows and created drawings of nude women printed in their program booklets. Kelly was also content, moreover, to see the organization continue on as a sort of exclusive drinking club for successful cartoonists rather than to transform it into something more progressive and union-like.

In these contract renegotiations, which Kelly instigated three years before the agreement was due for renewal, he essentially took legal ownership and control of the strip, and ensured that the freedom he had enjoyed as a satirist could continue under a more formal, binding arrangement. It is clear in reading between the lines in the contract that Kelly, by this time, was earning over $150,000 a year and was guaranteed that over the course of his contract his yearly earnings walt kelly’s biography and a general history of pogo could never go below $100,000, regardless of the performance of the strip.

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Defending Justice
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