The characters of Pogo the possum and Albert the alligator were created by Kelly in 1941, for issue #1 of Animal Comics, in a story titled «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 (and past) Kelly’s death from diabetes in 1973. It was then continued for a few years by Kelly’s wife, Selby, and son Stephen before ceasing publication in 1975. Selby said in a 1982 interview that she decided to discontinue the strip because newspapers had shrunk the size of strips to the point where people couldn’t easily read it.
In 1989, the Los Angeles Times revived the strip under the title Walt Kelly’s Pogo, written at first by Larry Doyle and Neal Sternecky, then by Sternecky alone. After Sternecky quit in March 1992, Kelly’s son Peter and daughter Carolyn continued to produce the strip, but interest waned and the revived strip was dropped from syndication after only a few years.