Pogo Comic on Extraterrestrials: Either Way, It’s a Mighty Soberin’ Thought

Pogo? Porky Pine? Walt Kelly? Timothy Ferris? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The comic strip “Pogo” by Walt Kelly combined beautiful artwork with entertaining wordplay and satire. Kelly also expressed a delightful sense of wonder as in the following supposed remark about the possibility of extraterrestrial life:

Thar’s only two possibilities: Thar is life out there in the universe which is smarter than we are, or we’re the most intelligent life in the universe. Either way, it’s a mighty sobering thought.

I have been unable to find a strip containing this text. The word “thar” does not accord with the speech patterns of the denizens of Okefenokee Swamp. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: This was a difficult question because QI knows of no comprehensive databases containing the text of Walt Kelly’s oeuvre. Also, the computer algorithms that convert the dialog in daily comic strip bubbles into searchable text do not work well. Nevertheless, QI has located the most likely origin of this quotation.

On June 20, 1959 the syndicated “Pogo” strip published three panels showing the characters Porky Pine and Pogo the Possum. Porky Pine speculated about beings on other planets: 1

Porky Pine: I BEEN READIN’ ‘BOUT HOW MAYBE THEY IS PLANETS PEOPLED BY FOLKS WITH AD-VANCED BRAINS.

Pogo: UM

Porky Pine: ON THE OTHER HAND, MAYBE WE GOT THE MOST BRAINS…MAYBE OUR INTELLECTS IS THE UNIVERSE’S MOST AD-VANCED.

Porky Pine: EITHER WAY, IT’S A MIGHTY SOBERIN’ THOUGHT.

The overall semantics and the punchline matched the modern statement, and QI conjectures that a flawed memory of Porky Pine’s monologue led to the creation of a misquotation.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading Pogo Comic on Extraterrestrials: Either Way, It’s a Mighty Soberin’ Thought

Notes:

  1. 1959 June 20, The Honolulu Advertiser, Pogo Comic Strip by Walt Kelly, Quote Page B3, Honolulu, Hawaii. (Newspapers_com)