What P.T. Bridgeport Taught Me About Typography

You never know what you’ll discover when sorting through old books. I used to spend hours as a kid carefully creating my own typefaces and learning how to add perspective to letters. Ask me a few weeks ago where my love of typography came from, and I certainly wouldn’t have said it came from a bear. That was until I found this panel of P.T. Bridgeport in the pages of Walt Kelly’s book The Incompleat Pogo.

I used to imagine P.T. Bridgeport’s voice sounding something like W.C. Field’s. It’s marvelous how Kelly could convey a colorful personality using black ink and white paper and speech ballons. And convey inflection and tone of voice by varying the size, style, and weight of type.

I have only three well-loved (okay, falling apart) books by Walt Kelly left, Ten Ever-Lovin’ Blue Eyed Years With PogoPotluck Pogo, and The Incompleat Pogo, out of what used to be a much larger family collection. I used to pour over this and the other Pogo books long before I could read. This wanna-be P.T. Barnum whose every utterance is a sales pitch wasn’t even one of my favorite Pogo characters—those would be Albert Alligator, Pup Dog, and those three bats Bewitched, Bothered, and Bemildred—but he apparently had the longest lasting influence. Is it possible that P.T .Bridgeport is also responsible form my I love of early circus posters.