"Pogo Possum" was an opossum who lived in Okefenokee Swamp and spent a great deal of time fishing from a simple, slab-sided scow. He was honest and shared with the strip's readers simple homespun wisdom. Other major characters were Pogo's best friends: the blustering and cheerful "Albert Alligator"; the superstitious "Churchy LaFemme" (a turtle, whose name is a play on the French phrase "cherchez la femme" originated by Alexandre Dumas), meaning "look for the woman" as a cause of a problem); the misanthopic "Porkypine" (a porcupine); and "Howland Owl", a pedantic know-it-all. Kelly once said that these characters were all aspects of his own personality.
Pogo debuted in 1949 and appeared until Kelly's death in 1973. Kelly's wife and his assistant continued the strip for a short time after his death before retiring the strip. It was briefly revived in the 1990s, but Pogo when Walt Kelly wrote and illustrated it is often considered among the best-written and best-drawn examples of the newspaper comic strip.
"Pogo" often engaged in social and political satire through the adventures of the strip's funny animals. The strip also used much slapstick physical humor; the same series of strips could often be enjoyed by young children and by savvy adults on different levels.
The strip was also known for creative usage of speech balloons. "Deacon Mushrat", an educated muskrat, spoke with speech balloons that used Old English-style Gothic lettering. "Sarcophagus Macabre", a mortician vulture, spoke with square, black-framed speech balloons that resembled funeral announcements. "P.T. Bridgeport", a con-artist bear (influenced by or modeled on American showman and politician P. T. Barnum, one-time mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut), spoke with speech balloons that resembled 19th century circus posters.