Pokey the Penguin is a surrealistic online comic strip, which began in 1998 and continues to be updated (albeit sporadically) to this day. The individual strips have little or no apparent logic on first glance, are filled with apparent corrections (crossed-out words, occasionally images scribbled over), and lack of evident punch lines. All the same, they exhibit the glimmerings of plots and strange connections between things. The art has been described as resembling "the drawings of a four-year-old with a short attention span and poor motor control"; the dialogue, by contrast, has a peculiarly knowing and subtle air about it, despite the fact that it is delivered entirely in italicized capitals with multiple exclamation marks. Pokey's fans persistently see it as a work of genius; in any case, "HERE ON RUM ISLAND WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN RUM!" and "IN MEAT-SPACE, EVERYONE IS YOUR FRIEND!!!" are unlikely to be the work of a four-year old. An interesting expression introduced in the comic is "Chicago-style", a term used in the strip meaning to do something without pants. The comic is produced, intermittently, by web developer Steve Havelka of Portland, Oregon who, to this day, is only identified on the page as "THE AUTHORS."
A typical panel in a Pokey strip, featuring the Little Girl and Pokey.
The characters are as innumerable as the plots are inscrutable. The mainstays are:
- Pokey the Penguin
- Mr. Nutty, a British capitalistic alcoholic snowman
- A young female penguin, variously identified as "Small Child" or "Little Girl," who is apparently Pokey's sister
- Skeptopotamus, a skeptic who is apparently not related to the race "hippopotamus"
- Headcheese, a French-Canadian female penguin, with whom Pokey has some kind of 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, who are Pokey's enemies because they want to steal his "arctic circle-candy"
Minor characters, who appear in only one or two comics, include:
and many more...
The occasional "guest artists" are: