Pokey the Penguin

Pokey the Penguin

Infobox Webcomic|
title = Pokey the Penguin

caption = Panel from Pokey strip #190
author = Steve Havelka, under the pen name "The Authors"
url = http://yellow5.com/pokey
status = Updated sporadically
began = February 18, 1998 ( [http://yellow5.com/pokey/archive/ archive] )
genre = Comedy, Parody, Surrealist
ratings =

"Pokey the Penguin" is a surrealistic online comic strip created in 1998. It chronicles the adventures of a penguin named Pokey and a large cast of other characters. "Pokey" comics are drawn crudely and minimalistically, and they consist largely of a string of non sequiturs with only the glimmerings of plots and continuity. Today, new comic strips appear sporadically, although formerly the site was updated daily. [The Pokey FAQ 1.1, "Pokey the Penguin Informational Site", http://web.archive.org/web/20040416055220/www.rit.edu/~flf1754/pokey/pokeyfaq.html. Accessed 21 May 2008.]

Pokey lives in the Arctic, unlike most penguins, who live in the Southern Hemisphere. He is accompanied by several recurring characters, of whom the "Little Girl" is the most commonly seen. His main antagonists are the Italians, whom Pokey suspects of intending to steal his Arctic Circle-Candy (which grows in the Arctic). The Italians are usually represented by a ship on the horizon flying the Italian flag; an actual Italian was seen for the first time in a comic posted in late February 2008. In the first strip, "Pokey" is described as an "educational children's cartoon".

"Pokey"'s artistic style is deliberately crude, even childish. It appears to have been drawn using Microsoft Paint. [Thair, David. "This week, slow-burning seabirds." BBC Collective. 10 August 2006. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/collective/A13663325. Accessed 21 May 2008.] The comic has been described as resembling "the ramblings of a deranged child". [Ibid.] Most minor characters are exact copies of Pokey [Justin. "Pokey the Penguin by Steve Havelka, reviewed by Justin." Comixtalk. n.d. http://comixtalk.com/pokey_the_penguin_by_steve_havelka_reviewed_by_justin. Accessed 21 Mat 2008.] —the various "Chicken" characters are not chickens, but ordinary penguins, and the "Bear" is merely a brown penguin; the "Dinosaur" a green penguin. The comic strips are filled with visible corrections: some words are crossed out, while images are occasionally scribbled over. Some words are left misspelled, such as "haggas". ["Pokey in Ancient Scotland." "Pokey the Penguin" No.18. http://www.yellow5.com/pokey/archive/index18.html. Accessed 21 May 2008.]

"Pokey the Penguin"'s lettering consists entirely of italicized capitals. The typeface is exclusively Courier, is italicized by shifting pixels of each successive horizontal row further to the left, and is never anti-aliased. Sentences often end without punctuation, or end with multiple exclamation marks or question marks, usually separated by spaces.

The strip's dialogue is surreal and often peppered with obscure allusions; [Thair.] illustrative quotes include "HERE ON RUM ISLAND WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN RUM!" ["Welcome to Rum Island." "Pokey the Penguin" No. 160. http://yellow5.com/pokey/archive/index160.html. Accessed 21 May 2008.] and "IN MEAT-SPACE, MR. NUTTY, EVERYONE IS YOUR FRIEND! ! !" ["Pokey and Meatspace". "Pokey the Penguin" No. 312. http://yellow5.com/pokey/archive/index312.html. Accessed 21 May 2008.] Most strips lack clear punch lines. [The Pokey FAQ 2.2.] The comic introduced the expression "Chicago-style", meaning to do something without pants. ["Chicago-Style." "Pokey the Penguin" No. 382. http://yellow5.com/pokey/archive/index382.html. Accessed 21 May 2008.]

The comic does not name its creator, attributing each comic only to "THE AUTHORS'. The author is in fact web developer Steve Havelka of Portland, Oregon, whose identity became public during Pokey's early years. [Justin.] In discussions and message boards dedicated to Pokey, Havelka revealed that Pokey was originally intended as a parody of another MS Paint comic about a penguin.Fact|date=May 2008 Havelka's name appears in the 483rd "Pokey" strip, in which Pokey exclaims, "STEVE HAVELKA IS DEAD! ! !" ["Here's What I Think of Bankers!" "Pokey" No. 483. http://www.yellow5.com/pokey/archive/index483.html. Accessed 21 May 2008.]

Two animated Pokey adventures (which originally appeared in 2002) have been released into the " [http://yellow5.com/pokey/hall/ Hall of Whimsy] ", which also suggests forthcoming availability of Pokey shirts and a book.


The characters are as innumerable as the plots are inscrutable. The mainstays are:

*Pokey the Penguin
*Mr. Nutty, an alcoholic British snowman and capitalist
*A young female penguin, variously identified as "Small Child" or "Little Girl," who is apparently Pokey's sister
*Skeptopotamus, a skeptic who says he is unrelated to the hippopotamus
*Headcheese, a French Canadian female penguin, with whom Pokey has something of a love/hate relationship
*Gustavo, a potato chip-shaped character whose long moustaches, named "Democracy" and "Stalin", can be moved individually like arms
*The devil, who looks like a red, horned penguin
*A boxing glove purportedly possessed by the devil
*The Italians, Pokey's enemies who want to steal his Arctic Circle-Candy

Minor characters

"Pokey the Penguin" frequently includes minor characters that appear in only one or two comics. Many look like exact copies of Pokey. "Pokey" often incorporates familiar characters from fiction such as Batman and Superman, both exact Pokey copies. Celebrities and politicians appear as well, including "Bobdole" (who looks exactly like Pokey) and Stephen Hawking (Pokey with a pointed wizard's hat). Variations on other characters appear sometimes, such as "Old Man Nutty" and "the Nostrapotamus." In one strip, Pokey's "son" appears, created as part of a science experiment.

Guest artists

"Pokey" is occasionally drawn by "guest artists." So far, these have included:

*The ghost of Claude Monet
*The town council of Hamburg, Germany
*The Communist nation of Laos
*William Gibson
*Mary Lou Retton
*The Italians

Pokey in other media

Pokey has been referenced twice in the Hitman series of video games: in ' as an obscure, esoteric easter egg ["Easter egg hunt with Jesper Donnis." Hitman Forum. http://www.hitmanforum.com/show.php?id=24978&catid=38. Accessed 21 May 2008.] , and more directly in ', where an overheard conversation between guards has one inviting the other to look at the comics on a computer. Mistero made a tribute to Pokey on "Newgrounds", bearing the same sort of absurdity as the original comic.Fact|date=May 2008

A number of Web sites feature "bootleg" artwork (fan comics) and fan art dedicated to Pokey. See External Links below.


External links

* [http://www.yellow5.com/pokey/ "Pokey the Penguin" official website]
* [http://interglacial.com/rss/pokey_the_penguin.rss Pokey's RSS feed]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20040216101002/http://www.rit.edu/~flf1754/pokey/ Pokey the Penguin Information Site] , a fan site
* [http://comixtalk.com/pursuit_pokey The Pursuit of Pokey: An Interview]
* [http://comixtalk.com/pokey_penguin_steve_havelka_reviewed_justin on comixtalk.com]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/collective/A13663325 BBC Collective article on Pokey the Penguin]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20040222080038/yellow5.com/pp/01EditorsNote.html The Pokey Principle by Cente Watkins] , a tongue-in-cheek "academic" analysis of Pokey cartoons
* [http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=29834 Pokey the Penguin @ Everything2] - unfortunately all of the sources given seem to no longer exist
* [http://www.somethingawful.com/articles.php?a=641 Pokey The Penguin: A Beginners Guide] - Something Awful article on Pokey
* [http://www.goaste.cx/goaste/pokeyinterview.html Pokey the Penguin interview from 2005]
* [http://movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/indeed/ Yahoo group INDEED] (mostly spam now, but much Pokey activity 1998-2001)
* [http://www.tc.umn.edu/~hause011/Pokeylinks.html Pokey the Penguin Bootlegs]

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