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.
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. The comic has been described as resembling "the ramblings of a deranged child". Most minor characters are exact copies of Pokey—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 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; illustrative quotes include "HERE ON RUM ISLAND WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN RUM!" and "IN MEAT-SPACE, MR. NUTTY, EVERYONE IS YOUR FRIEND! ! !" Most strips lack clear punch lines. The comic introduced the expression "Chicago-style", meaning to do something without pants.
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. 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. Havelka's name appears in the 483rd Pokey strip, in which Pokey exclaims, "STEVE HAVELKA IS DEAD! ! !"
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