Li'l Abner is a satirical American comic strip that appeared in many
newspapers in the United States, Canada and Europe, featuring a
fictional clan of hillbillies in the impoverished mountain village of
Dogpatch, USA. Written and drawn by
Al Capp (1909–1979), the strip
ran for 43 years, from August 13, 1934 through November 13, 1977.
It was distributed by United Feature Syndicate. Comic strips typically
dealt with northern urban experiences before Capp introduced Li'l
Abner, the first strip based in the South. The comic strip had 60
million readers in over 900 American newspapers and 100 foreign papers
in 28 countries.
Author M. Thomas Inge says Capp "had a profound
influence on the way the world viewed the American South."
1.1 Main characters
1.2 Supporting characters and villains
1.3 Fearless Fosdick
2 Setting and fictitious locales
2.2 Lower Slobbovia
2.3 Other fictional locales
3 Shmoos and other mythic creatures
4 Dialogue and catchphrases
5 Toppers and alternate strips
6 Licensing, advertising and promotion
7 Awards and recognition
8 Influence and legacy
8.1 Sadie Hawkins Day
8.2 Additions to the language
8.3 Franchise ownership and creators' rights
8.4 Integration of women in the NCS
Social commentary in comic strips
8.7 Parodies and imitations
9 Popularity and production
Li'l Abner in other media
10.1 Radio and recordings
10.2 Sheet music
10.3 Comic books and reprints
10.4 Public service works
10.5 Animation and puppetry
10.6 Stage, film and television
Comic strip adaptations
12 Beyond the comic strip
14 Further reading
15 External links
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Li'l Abner Yokum: Abner was 6' 3" and perpetually 19 "y'ars" old. A
naïve, simpleminded, gullible and sweet-natured hillbilly, he lived
in a ramshackle log cabin with his pint-sized parents. Capp derived
the family name "Yokum" as a combination of yokel and hokum. In Capp's
satirical and often complex plots, Abner was a country bumpkin Candide
— a paragon of innocence in a sardonically dark and cynical
world. Abner typically had no visible means of support, but
sometimes earned his livelihood as a "crescent cutter" for the Little
Wonder privy company, later changed to "mattress tester" for the
Stunned Ox mattress company. During World War II, Abner was "drafted"
into becoming the mascot emblem of the Patrol Boat Squadron 29. In one
Post World War II storyline Abner became a
US Air Force
US Air Force bodyguard of
Steve Cantor (a parody of Steve Canyon) against the evil bald female
spy Jewell Brynner (a parody of actor Yul Brynner) Abner's primary
goal in life was evading the marital designs of Daisy Mae Scragg, the
virtuous, voluptuous, barefoot
Dogpatch damsel and scion of the
Yokums' blood feud enemies — the Scraggs, her bloodthirsty,
semi-evolved kinfolk. For 18 years, Abner slipped out of Daisy Mae's
marital crosshairs time and time again. When Capp finally gave in to
reader pressure and allowed the couple to tie the knot, it was a major
media event. It even made the cover of Life magazine on March 31, 1952
— illustrating an article by Capp titled "It's Hideously True!! The
Li'l Abner Tells Why His Hero Is (SOB!) Wed!!"
Daisy Mae Yokum (née Scragg): Beautiful Daisy Mae was hopelessly in
love with Dogpatch's most prominent resident throughout the entire
43-year run of Al Capp's comic strip. During most of the epic, the
impossibly dense Abner exhibited little romantic interest in her
voluptuous charms (much of it visible daily thanks to her famous
polka-dot peasant blouse and cropped skirt). In 1952, Abner
reluctantly proposed to Daisy to emulate the engagement of his comic
strip "ideel," Fearless Fosdick. Fosdick's own wedding to longtime
fiancée Prudence Pimpleton turned out to be a dream — but Abner and
Daisy's ceremony, performed by Marryin' Sam, was permanent. Abner and
Daisy Mae's nuptials were a major source of media attention, landing
them on the aforementioned cover of Life magazine's March 31, 1952,
issue. Once married, Abner became relatively domesticated. Like
Mammy Yokum and the other "wimmenfolk" in Dogpatch, Daisy Mae did all
the work, domestic and otherwise — while the useless menfolk
generally did nothing whatsoever.
Mammy Yokum: Born Pansy Hunks, Mammy was the scrawny, highly
principled "sassiety" leader and bare knuckle "champeen" of the town
of Dogpatch. She married the inconsequential Pappy Yokum in 1902; they
produced two strapping sons twice their own size. Mammy dominated the
Yokum clan through the force of her personality, and dominated
everyone else with her fearsome right uppercut (sometimes known as her
"Goodnight, Irene" punch), which helped her uphold law, order and
decency. She is consistently the toughest character throughout Li'l
Abner. A superhuman dynamo, Mammy did all the household chores — and
provided her charges with no fewer than eight meals a day of "po'k
chops" and "tarnips," (as well as local
Dogpatch delicacies like
"candied catfish eyeballs" and "trashbean soup"). Her authority was
unquestioned, and her characteristic phrase, "Ah has spoken!,"
signaled the end of all further discussion. Her most familiar phrase,
however, is "Good is better than evil becuz it's nicer!" (Upon his
retirement in 1977, Capp declared Mammy to be his personal favorite of
all his characters.)
Pappy Yokum: Born Lucifer Ornamental Yokum, pint-sized Pappy had the
misfortune of being the patriarch in a family that didn't have one.
Pappy was so lazy and ineffectual, he didn't even bathe himself. Mammy
was regularly seen scrubbing Pappy in an outdoor oak tub ("Once a
month, rain or shine"). Ironing Pappy's trousers fell under her wifely
duties as well, although she didn't bother with preliminaries — like
waiting for Pappy to remove them first. Pappy is dull-witted and
gullible (in one storyline after he is conned by Marry'n Sam into
buying Vanishing cream because he thinks it makes him invisible when
he picks a fight with his nemesis Earthquake McGoon), but not
completely without guile. He had an unfortunate predilection for
snitching "presarved tarnips" and smoking corn silk behind the
woodshed — much to his chagrin when Mammy caught him. Pappy Yokum
wasn't always feckless, however. After his lower wisdom teeth grew so
long that they squeezed his cerebral Goodness Gland and emerged as
forehead horns, he proved himself capable of evil. Of course Mammy
solved the problem with a tooth extraction, and ended the episode with
her most famous dictum.
Honest Abe Yokum:
Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae's little boy was born in
1953 "after a pregnancy that ambled on so long that readers began
sending me medical books," wrote Capp. Initially known as "Mysterious
Yokum" (there was even an Ideal doll marketed under this name) due to
a debate regarding his gender (he was stuck in a pants-shaped
stovepipe for the first six weeks), he was renamed "Honest Abe" (after
President Abraham Lincoln) to thwart his early tendency to steal.
His first words were "po'k chop," and that remained his favorite food.
Though his uncle Tiny was perpetually frozen at 15½ "y'ars" old,
Honest Abe gradually grew from infant to grade school age, and became
a dead ringer for Washable Jones — the star of Capp's early "topper"
strip. He would eventually acquire a couple of supporting character
friends for his own semi-regularly featured adventures in the strip.
In one storyline he lives up to his nickname when during a nationwide
search for George Washington’s missing socks (the finder gets to
shake the President of the United States’s hand) after dishonestly
producing a fraudulent pair he confess to the truth at the last
Tiny Yokum: "Tiny" was a misnomer; Li'l Abner's kid brother remained
perpetually innocent and 15½ "y'ars" old — despite the fact that he
was an imposing, 7-foot (2.1 m) tall behemoth. Tiny was unknown
to the strip until September 1954, when a relative who had been
raising him reminded Mammy that she'd given birth to a second "chile"
while visiting her 15 years earlier. (The relative explained that she
would have dropped him off sooner, but waited until she happened to be
in the neighborhood.) Capp introduced Tiny to fill the bachelor role
played reliably for nearly two decades by
Li'l Abner himself, until
his fateful 1952 marriage threw the carefully orchestrated dynamic of
the strip out of whack for a period. Pursued by local lovelies
Hopeful Mudd and Boyless Bailey, Tiny was even dumber and more awkward
than Abner, if that can be imagined. Tiny initially sported a bulbous
nose like both of his parents, but eventually, (through a plot
contrivance) he was given a nose job, and his shaggy blond hair was
buzz cut to make him more appealing.
Salomey: The Yokums' beloved pet. Cute, lovable and intelligent
(arguably smarter than Abner, Tiny or Pappy), she was accepted as part
of the family ("the youngest," as Mammy invariably introduces her).
She is 100% "Hammus Alabammus" — an adorable species of pig, and the
last female known in existence. A plump, juicy Hammus Alabammus is the
rarest and most vital ingredient of "ecstasy sauce," an indescribably
delicious gourmet delicacy. Consequently,
Salomey is frequently
targeted by unscrupulous sportsmen, hog breeders and gourmands (like
J.R. Fangsley and Bounder J. Roundheels), as well as unsavory boars
with improper intentions (such as
Boar Scarloff and Porknoy). Her
moniker was a pun on both salami and Salome.
Supporting characters and villains
Marryin' Sam: A traveling (by mule) preacher who specializes in $2
weddings. He also offered the $8 "ultra-deluxe speshul," a spectacular
ceremony in which Sam officiates while being drawn and quartered by
four rampaging jackasses. He cleans up once a year — during Sadie
Hawkins Day season, when slow-footed bachelors are dragged kicking and
screaming to the altar by their prospective brides-to-be. Sam,
whose face and figure were reportedly modeled after New York City
mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, started out as a stock villain but
gradually softened into a genial, opportunistic comic foil. He wasn't
above chicanery to achieve his ends, and was warily viewed by Dogpatch
menfolk as a traitor to his gender. Sam was prominently featured on
the cover of Life in 1952 when he presided over the celebrated wedding
Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae. In the 1956 Broadway musical and 1959
film adaptation, Sam was perfectly played by rotund actor Stubby Kaye.
Moonbeam McSwine: The unwashed but shapely form of languid, delectable
Moonbeam was one of the iconic hallmarks of
Li'l Abner — an unkempt,
impossibly lazy, corncob pipe-smoking, flagrant (and fragrant),
raven-haired, earthly (and earthy) goddess. Beautiful Moonbeam
preferred the company of pigs to suitors — much to the frustration
of her equally lazy pappy,
Moonshine McSwine. She was usually
showcased luxuriating among the hogs, somewhat removed from the main
action of the story, in a deliberate travesty of glamour magazines and
pinup calendars of the day. Capp designed her in caricature of his
wife Catherine (minus the dirt), who had also suggested Daisy Mae's
name. In one comic it is revealed that she bears a striking
resemblance to a wealthy, well-dressed and well-washed woman named
Gloria Van Welbuilt; a famous socialite. Despite her lazy nature and
dirty appearance she was generally good-natured and kind as shown when
she ran off to the Dogpatch, carrying two shmoos under her arms to
save them from going extinct wondering if humanity will ever be good
enough for them. She also consoled Abner to stop worrying about being
a father. Moonbeam also seemed to have interests in romance as in some
comic strips she was seen flirting with and even kissing various male
characters including Abner. She once expressed the desire of having a
family of her own and she actually discussed the matter of trapping a
husband if she got cleaned up to Abner. In one strip it was revealed
that Moonbeam was in fact in love with Abner when they were children.
In the same strip it was shown that Moonbeam’s disposition for filth
was born out of a failure to understand the turn-ons of Abner when he
was a child. Strangely she actually disliked hogs as a child but after
seeing Abner ignoring the openly romantic advances of a clean Daisy
Mae, she dived right into a mud-hole headfirst where some hogs were
wallowing to earn his love believing that if Abner didn't like clean
girls he must have liked them dirty. Much to her disappointment
however this too failed to capture his attention. Moonbeam was also
unknowingly the star of a horror movie directed by Rock Pincus head
film director of a race known as the Pincushions from Pincus 7.
Unfortunately this venture ended in tragedy for Rock when he was
unknowingly grilled, put into a hot dog bun and devoured while he was
Hairless Joe and Lonesome Polecat: The proud purveyors of "Kickapoo
Joy Juice" — a moonshine elixir of such stupefying potency that the
fumes alone have been known to melt the rivets off battleships.
Concocted in a large wooden vat by the inseparable cave-dwelling
buddies Lonesome Polecat (he of the Fried Dog Indian tribe, later
known as the Polecats, "the one tribe who have never been conquered,")
and Hairless Joe (a hirsute, club-wielding, modern
Cro-Magnon — who
frequently made good on his oft-repeated threat, "Ah'll bash yore haid
in!") The ingredients of the brew are both mysterious and
all-encompassing (much like the contents of their cave, which has
been known to harbor prehistoric monsters). When a batch "needs more
body," the formidable pair simply goes out and clubs one (often a
moose), and tosses it in. Over the years, the "recipe" has called for
live grizzly bears, panthers, kerosene, horseshoes and anvils, among
other ingredients. An officially licensed soft drink called Kickapoo
Joy Juice is still produced by the
Monarch Beverage Company of
Atlanta, Georgia. Lonesome Polecat was also the official team mascot
of the Sioux City Soos (1940–1960), a former Minor League
baseball franchise of Sioux City, Iowa.
Joe Btfsplk: The world's worst jinx,
Joe Btfsplk had a perpetually
dark rain cloud over his head. Instantaneous bad luck befell anyone
unfortunate enough to be in his vicinity. Though well-meaning and
friendly, his reputation inevitably precedes him — so Joe is a very
lonely little man-so he associates himself with the Scraggs-except in
World War II when Joe decided to do his patriotic duty-and associate
himself with Hirohito!. He has an apparently unpronounceable name, but
Al Capp "pronounced" Btfsplk by simply blowing a "raspberry,"
or Bronx cheer. Joe's personal storm cloud became one of the most
iconic images in the strip.
Senator Jack S. Phogbound: His name was a thinly disguised variant on
"jackass," as made plain in his deathless campaign slogan (see
Dialogue and catchphrases). The senator was satirist Al Capp's parody
of a blustering self-serving Southern politician. Before 1947
Phogbound had been known as Fogbound, but in that year Phogbound
"blackmails his fellow Washington senators to appropriate two million
dollars to establish Phogbound university," and its attendant brass
statue of Phogbound, both reminiscent of self-aggrandizements by Huey
Long; the name change allowed Capp to sharpen the joke by calling
the university P.U. Phogbound is a corrupt, conspiratorial
blowhard; he often wears a coonskin cap and carries an old fashioned
flintlock rifle to impress his gullible constituents. In one sequence,
Phogbound is unable to campaign in
Dogpatch — so he sends his aides
with an old, hot air-filled gas bag that resembles him. Nobody noticed
Dogpatch entrepreneur Available Jones was always
available — for a price. He had many sidelines, including minding
babies (Dry — 5¢, Other kinds — 10¢). He provided anything from
a safety pin to a battleship, but his most famous "provision" was his
memorable cousin — Stupefyin' Jones.
Stupefyin' Jones: A walking aphrodisiac, Stupefyin' was stunning —
literally. So drop-dead gorgeous that any male who glimpsed her froze
petrified in his tracks and rooted to the spot — in a word,
stupefied! While she was generally favored by the males of Dogpatch,
she could be deadly for a confirmed bachelor to encounter on Sadie
Hawkins Day. Statuesque actress
Julie Newmar became famous overnight
for playing the small role in the 1956
Li'l Abner Broadway musical
(and the 1959 film adaptation) without uttering a single line.
General Bullmoose: Created by
Al Capp in June 1953, Bashington T.
Bullmoose was the epitome of a mercenary, cold-blooded capitalist
tyrant tycoon. Bullmoose's bombastic motto (see Dialogue and
catchphrases) was adapted by Capp from a statement made by Charles E.
Wilson, the former head of
General Motors when it was America's
largest corporation. In 1952 Wilson told a Senate subcommittee, "What
is good for the country is good for General Motors, and vice-versa."
Wilson later served as
United States Secretary of Defense
United States Secretary of Defense under
President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bullmoose had a simple boyhood
dream: to possess all the money in the world. He very nearly did.
Bullmoose Industries seemed to own or control everything. He had a
milksop of a son named Weakfish, and was sometimes accompanied by his
delectable "secretary," Bim Bovak (whose name was a pun on both
"bimbo" and bombshell actress Kim Novak).
Li'l Abner became embroiled
in many globetrotting adventures with the ruthless, reactionary
billionaire over the years. Despite his adamantine exterior, General
Bullmoose was still capable of a kind of capitalist gallantry. "Those
Slobbovians [q.v.] have done me out of a hundred thousand dollars!" he
once exclaimed, after falling victim to a fraud. "Nearly an hour's
income, bless 'em!"
Wolf Gal: A feral, irredeemable, Amazonian beauty who was raised by
wolves and preferred to live among them; she lured unwary Dogpatchers
to their doom to feed her ravenous pack. Wolf Gal was possibly, and
even probably a cannibal — although the point was never stressed
since she considered herself an animal, as did the rest of Dogpatch.
One of Capp's more popular villains, Wolf Gal was briefly merchandised
in the fifties with her own comic book, doll, handpuppet, and even a
Earthquake McGoon: Billing himself as "the world's dirtiest wrassler,"
the bearded, bloated McGoon first appeared in
Li'l Abner as a
traveling exhibition wrestler in the late 1930s, and was reportedly
partially based on real-life grappler Man Mountain Dean. He also has a
look-alike cousin named Typhoon McGoon. McGoon became increasingly
prominent in the
Cream of Wheat
Cream of Wheat print ads of the 1940s, and
later, with the early television exposure of gimmicky wrestlers such
as Gorgeous George. Earthquake is the nastiest resident of
neighboring Skonk Hollow — a nightmarish, notoriously lawless
community where no sane Dogpatcher dares set foot. The randy McGoon
often attempted to walk Daisy Mae home "Skonk Hollow style" — the
lascivious implications of which are never made specific.
The (shudder!) Scraggs: Hulking, leering, gap-toothed twin miscreants
Lem and Luke and their needlessly proud pappy, Romeo. Apelike and
gleefully homicidal, the impossibly evil Scraggs were officially
declared inhuman by an act of Congress. The Scraggs were so awful,
they burned down orphanages just to have light to read by (although
the joke was on them when they remembered they couldn't read!) Distant
kinfolk of Daisy Mae, they carried on a blood feud with the Yokums
throughout the run of the strip-in their first introduction after
being run out of a
Kentucky county at gunpoint, they tried to kill
Li'l Abner but were beaten up by both Abner and his mother Mammy
Yokam. A long-lost kid sister named "*@!!*!"-Belle Scragg briefly
joined the clan in 1947. Fetchingly-attired in a prison-striped reform
school miniskirt, "*@!!*!"-Belle was outwardly attractive but just as
rotten as her siblings on the inside. Her censored first name was an
expletive, compelling everyone who addressed her to apologize
Nightmare Alice: Dogpatch's own "conjurin' woman," a hideous, cackling
crone who practiced
Louisiana Voodoo and black magic. Capp named her
after the carnival-themed horror film, Nightmare Alley (1947). Alice
employs witchcraft to "whomp up" ghosts and monsters to do her
bidding. She was occasionally assisted by Doctor Babaloo, a witch
doctor of the Belgian Congo, as well as her demon-child niece Scary
Lou, who specializes in vexing voodoo dolls that resemble Li'l Abner.
Ole Man Mose: The mysterious Mose was reportedly hundreds of "y'ars"
old, and lived like a hermit in a cave atop a mountain. (He
obstinately refused to "kick the bucket," which was conveniently
positioned just outside his cave door.) His wisdom is absolute ("Ole
Man Mose — he knows!"), and his sought-after annual Sadie Hawkins
Day predictions — though frustratingly cryptic and infuriatingly
misleading — are nonetheless 100% accurate.
Evil Eye Fleagle: Fleagle has a unique and terrifying skill — the
evil eye. An ordinary "whammy," as he called it, could stop a charging
bull in its tracks. A "double whammy" could fell a skyscraper, leaving
Fleagle exhausted. His dreaded "triple whammy" could melt a battleship
— but would practically kill Fleagle in the process. The zoot
suit-clad Fleagle was a native of Brooklyn, and his burlesque New York
accent was unmistakable — especially when addressing his "goil," the
zaftig Shoiley. Fleagle was so popular, licensed plastic replicas of
Fleagle's face were produced in the 1950s, to be worn like lapel pins.
Battery-operated, the wearer could pull a string and produce a
flashing light bulb "whammy." Fleagle was reportedly based on a
real-life character, a Runyonesque local boxing trainer and hanger-on
named Benjamin "Evil Eye" Finkle. Finkle and his famous "hex" were a
ringside fixture in New York boxing circles during the 1930s and '40s.
Fleagle was vividly portrayed by character actor Al Nesor in the
aforementioned stage play and film.
J. Roaringham Fatback: The self-styled "Pork King" was a greedy,
gluttonous, unscrupulous business tycoon. Incensed to find that
Dogpatch cast a shadow on his breakfast egg, he had
Dogpatch moved —
instead of the egg. The bloated, porcine Fatback is, quite literally,
a corporate swine.
Gat Garson: Li'l Abner's doppelgänger — a murderous racketeer, with
a predilection for Daisy Mae.
Aunt Bessie: Mammy's socialite kid sister, the Duchess of Bopshire,
was the "white sheep" of the family. Bessie's string of marriages into
Boston and Park Avenue aristocracy left her a class-conscious,
condescending snob. Her status-seeking crusade to makeover Abner and
marry him off into high society was doomed to failure, however. Aunt
Bessie virtually disappeared from the strip after Abner and Daisy
Mae's marriage in 1952.
Big Barnsmell: The lonely "inside man" at the "Skonk Works" — a
dilapidated factory located on the remote outskirts of Dogpatch.
Scores of locals are done in yearly by the toxic fumes of concentrated
"skonk oil," which is brewed and barreled daily by Barnsmell and his
cousin ("outside man" Barney Barnsmell) by grinding dead skunks and
worn shoes into a smoldering still, for some unspecified purpose. His
job played havoc with his social life ("He has an air about him," as
Dogpatchers tactfully put it), and the name of his famous facility
entered the modern lexicon via the Lockheed
Skunk Works project.
Soft-Hearted John: Dogpatch's impossibly mercenary, thoroughly
blackhearted grocer, the ironically named Soft-Hearted John gleefully
swindled and starved his clientele — and looked disturbingly satanic
to boot. He had an idiot of a nephew who sometimes ran the store in
his stead, aptly named Soft-Headed John.
Smilin' Zack: Cadaverous, outwardly peaceable mountaineer with a
menacing grin and an even more menacing shotgun. He preferred things
"quiet." (Real quiet, that is — not breathing or anything.) Zack's
moniker was a take-off on another comic strip, The Adventures of
Smilin' Jack by Zack Mosley.
Dr. Killmare: The local
Dogpatch physician, who just happened to be a
horse doctor. His name was a pun on movie, radio and TV's Dr. Kildare
Cap'n Eddie Ricketyback: Decrepit
World War I
World War I aviator and
proprietor/sole operator of the even more decrepit
Cap'n Eddie's name was a spoof of decorated
World War I
World War I flying ace,
Eddie Rickenbacker. In 1970, Cap'n Eddie and his firm Trans-Dogpatch
Airlines were awarded the West Berlin Route by his old rival Count
Felix Von Holenhedt.
Count Felix Von Holenhedt: German flying ace who in 1970 (age 89) was
appointed as West German Civil Aviation Chief. He was never
photographed without his
World War I
World War I spiked helmet on his head. He
wore it to cover the hole in his head that had been caused by being
shot "clean through th' haid, in a dogfight over Flanders Field in
1918" by Cap'n Eddie Ricketyback. Nonetheless the two old enemies
eventually patched things up; Cap'n Ricketyback even convinced the
Count to settle in the States. "Jah!" cried the Count. "I got a cousin
Weakeyes Yokum: Before
Mister Magoo there was Dogpatch's own Cousin
Weakeyes, who would tragically mistake grizzly bears for
romantically-inclined "rich gals" in fur coats, and end a sequence by
characteristically walking off a cliff.
Young Eddie McSkonk and U.S. Mule: Ancient, creaky, white-bearded
Dogpatch postmaster and his hoary jackass mount. They were usually too
feeble to handle the sacks of timeworn, cobweb-covered letters marked
"Rush" at the
Dogpatch Express post office.
J. Colossal McGenius: The brilliant marketing consultant and "idea
man" who charged $10,000 per word for his sought-after business
advice. McGenius was given to telling long-winded jokes with forgotten
punch lines, however— as well as spells of hiccups and belches
which, at ten grand a pop, usually bankrupted his unfortunate clients.
(He had a regrettable fondness for gassy soft drinks like
"Burpsi-Booma" and "Eleven Urp.") He was aided by his lovely and
meticulously efficient secretary, Miss Pennypacker.
Silent Yokum: Prudent Cousin Silent never utters a word unless it's
absolutely, vitally important. Consequently, he hasn't spoken in 40
years. The arrival of Silent's grim visage in
earthshaking news on the horizon. Capp would milk reader suspense by
having Silent "warm up" his rusty, creaking jaw muscles for a few
days, before the momentous pronouncement.
Happy Vermin: The "world's smartest cartoonist" — a caricature of
Ham Fisher — who hired
Li'l Abner to draw his comic strip for him in
a dimly-lit closet. Instead of using Vermin's tired characters, Abner
had inventively peopled the strip with hillbillies. A bighearted
Vermin told his slaving assistant: "I'm proud of having created these
characters!! They'll make millions for me!! And if they do — I'll
get you a new light bulb!!"
Big Stanislouse; aka Big Julius: Stanislouse was a brutal gangster
with a childish fondness for kiddie TV superheroes (like
"Chickensouperman" and "Milton the Masked Martian"). Part of a virtual
goon squad of comic mobsters that inhabited
Li'l Abner and Fearless
Fosdick, the oafish Stanislouse alternated with other all-purpose
underworld thugs, including "the Boys from the Syndicate" — Capp's
euphemism for The Mob.
The Square-Eyes Family: Mammy's revelatory encounter with these
Dogpatch outcasts first appeared in 1956. The fable-like
story was really a thinly-veiled appeal for racial tolerance. It was
later issued as an educational comic book — called Mammy Yokum and
Dogpatch Mystery! — by the
Anti-Defamation League of B'nai
Appassionata Von Climax: One of a series of predatory, sexually
aggressive sirens who pursued
Li'l Abner prior to his marriage, and
even afterwards, much to the consternation of Daisy Mae. Joining a
long list of dishy femmes fatales and spoiled debutantes that included
Gloria Van Welbilt, Moonlight Sonata, Mimi Van Pett and "The Tigress";
Appassionata was memorably portrayed by both
Tina Louise (onstage) and
Stella Stevens (on film). Capp always wondered how he ever got her
suggestive name past the censors.
Tenderleif Ericson: Discovered frozen in the mud where her
sank in 1047, Tenderleif was Leif Ericson's beautiful, teenaged kid
sister (complete with breastplate armor,
Viking helmet and burlesque
Norwegian accent). As soon as she saw Li'l Abner, however, she started
warming up and breathing hard. "She's seventeen y'ars old," explains
Mammy, "and she hain't had a date fo' nine hunnerd y'ars!"
Princess Minihahaskirt: Decades before Disney's Pocahontas, the
sexiest cartoon Indian princesses could be found in Li'l Abner. The
latest in a series of lovely native maidens who enticed the normally
stoic Lonesome Polecat, the list also included Minnie Mustache, Raving
Dove, Little Turkey Wing and Princess Two Feathers.
Liddle Noodnik: A typically miserable resident of perpetually frozen
Lower Slobbovia, naked local waif Liddle Noodnik was usually employed
to recite a farcical poem of greeting to visiting dignitaries, or sing
the absurd Slobbovian national anthem (see "setting and fictitious
locales"). Like many terms in Li'l Abner, Noodnik's name was derived
from Yiddish. Nudnik is a slang term for a bothersome person or pest.
Pantless Perkins: A very late addition to the strip, Capp introduced
Honest Abe's brainy, ragamuffin pal Pantless Perkins in a series of
kid-themed stories in the seventies, probably to compete with Peanuts.
Poor Pantless didn't own a single pair of trousers. He wore an
over-length turtleneck sweater to hide the fact — much to his
embarrassment. In one storyline Feb/March 1972 the nearest he ever
got a pair of pants was when he helps Honest Abe find a long lost love
of a millionaire in return for a pair of pants. Unfortunately the
prospective groom drops dead after tasting the terrible cooking of his
bride to be — and Pantless remains pantless!
Rotten Ralphie: The kiddie version of Earthquake McGoon, Ralphie lived
up to his name — he was the perfectly rotten
bully. Exceedingly large for his age, Ralphie always wore a cowboy
outfit that was several sizes too small. In one storyline after
Ralphie beats up every boy in
Dogpatch at the same time, he himself is
beaten up when Pantless Perkins and Honest Abe trick Ralphie into
getting into a fight with the Scagg boys of Skonk Hollow!
Marcia Perkins: Innocent, outwardly normal teenager whose lips give
off 451 °F of electromagnetic heat, frying the brain of any boy
who kisses her. Declared a walking health hazard, poor Marcia must
wear a public warning sign ("Do Not Kiss This Girl, by Order of the
Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare"). Her notoriety precedes her
Dogpatch — where she meets and falls for Tiny
Bet-a-Million Bashby: Bashby amassed his colossal fortune by following
one simple rule: Always bet on a sure thing, and always bet with a
fool. He hadn't reckoned on fool's luck, however. All through the
years Bashby bet on sure things, and all through the years Abner won.
The Widder Fruitful: Another iconic
Dogpatch "regular," often glimpsed
in passing or featured in crowd scenes. The ample, fertile widow
invariably held three or four naked newborns under each arm, always
carried backside forward, with a healthy brood of earlier offspring
following in her wake.
Loverboynik: In 1954, Capp sent a letter to
Liberace addressing his
intention to spoof him in
Li'l Abner as "Liverachy."
Liberace had his
lawyers threaten to sue. Capp went ahead anyway, with a significant
name change. Billed as the "Sweetheart of the Piano," Loverboynik is a
blonde "dimpled darling" pianist and TV heartthrob. According to Capp,
Liberace was "cut to the quick" when the parody appeared. Capp
insisted that Loverboynik was not
Liberace because Loverboynik "could
play the piano rather decently and rarely wore black lace
Rock Hustler: Unscrupulous publicity agent-turned-marketing mogul. He
masterminds an ad campaign promoting the miracle diet food
"Mockaroni," carefully neglecting to disclose that it's both addictive
and lethal. "The more you crave, the more you eat. The more you eat,
the thinner you get — until you (shudder!) float away..."
Dumpington Van Lump: The bloated, almost catatonic heir to the Van
Lump fortune, Dumpington can only utter one syllable ("Urp!") ...until
he sets sight on Daisy Mae. A somewhat subhuman fiend, his favorite
book is the disturbingly-titled "How to Make Lampshades Out of Your
Friends." Capp chose the Dumpington sequence to illustrate his lesson
on continuity storytelling in the Famous Artists Cartoon Course.
Sam the Centaur: A "mythical critter" with a classic, chiseled profile
and Apollo-like blonde mane, Sam is a Greek centaur who occasionally
roams the mountains of
Dogpatch instead of the mountains of Thessaly.
Available Jones, "th' most book-educated varmint in Dogpatch,"
pronounces: "He hain't real!"
Jubilation T. Cornpone: Dogpatch's founder and most famous son,
memorialized by a town statue, is Confederate General Jubilation T.
Cornpone — renowned for "Cornpone's Retreat," "Cornpone's Disaster,"
"Cornpone's Stupidity," "Cornpone's Misjudgment," "Cornpone's
Hoolmiliation" and "Cornone's Final Mistake". Cornpone was such a
disastrously incompetent military leader that he came to be considered
an important asset of the opposing side. According to the stage play,
the statue was commissioned by a grateful President Abraham Lincoln!
Cornpone's only victories were posthumous-in one storyline, the
General's statue is filled with Kickapoo Joy juice, which brings it to
"life." It then goes on a rampage, beheading all the statues of Union
Army generals. As the
U.S. Army can't destroy it — since it's a
National Monument —
Kickapoo Joy Juice
Kickapoo Joy Juice is poured into a Union statue
which results in both statutes charging one another. When the smoke
clears, the animated statues have annihilated each other. At Mammy
Yokum's urging the statue pieces are put together with glue. The
hapless general is really best known for being the namesake of the
rousing showstopper in the popular
Li'l Abner musical, as sung by
Marryin' Sam and chorus.
Jubilation T. Cornpone Jr: son of General Cornpone; formerly
"commanded" army mules; became Commander of all U.N. Forces against
Invaders from outer space-despite being described as the most
incompetent general of all time-he was given the job because no other
General would take it! Feb 1959 ; fell in love with big eyes
"Princess Pocahauntingeyes" and lived with her in the land above the
Dogpatch via the "Trashbean stalk"; henpecked Cornpone admits to
Honest Abe however that all is not bliss-his "Big eyed" wife eyes have
got smaller and her mouth is bigger! Nov 20, 1971
Romeo McHaystack: A would be
Don Juan of Pineapple Junction whose
attempts at romancing women are frustrated because the Civic
Improvement league tattooed a warning about him on his forehead.
Discouraged he suddenly decides to romance
Dogpatch women when he
discovers that because atomic waste is suspended above Dogpatch,
Dogpatch is permanently in darkness! The waste was dropped on
DogPatch because it was thought nobody lived there since no Income
taxes had been filed there since 1776!
Sadie Hawkins: In the early days of Dogpatch, Sadie Hawkins was "the
homeliest gal in them hills" who grew frantic waiting for suitors to
come a-courtin'. Her father Hekzebiah Hawkins, a prominent Dogpatch
resident, grew even more frantic — about Sadie living at home for
the rest of his life. So he decreed the first annual Sadie Hawkins
Day, a foot race in which all the unmarried women pursued the town's
bachelors, with matrimony as the consequence. A pseudo-holiday
entirely created in the strip, it's still observed today in the form
of Sadie Hawkins dances, at which women approach (or chase after) men.
Lena the Hyena: A hideous Lower Slobbovian gal, referred to but
initially unseen or only glimpsed from the neck down in Li'l Abner.
Lena was so ugly that anyone who saw her was immediately driven mad.
No sane person, therefore, could tell you what she looked like. After
weeks of teasing his readers by hiding Lena's face behind "censored"
stickers and strategically placed dialogue balloons, Capp invited fans
to draw Lena in a famous nationwide contest in 1946. Lena was
ultimately revealed in the harrowing winning entry (as judged by Frank
Boris Karloff and Salvador Dalí) drawn by noted cartoonist
Joanie Phoanie: An unabashed Communist radical and agitator, who sang
revolutionary songs of class warfare (with burlesque titles like
"Molotov Cocktails for Two")— while hypocritically traveling via
Limousine and charging outrageous concert appearance fees to
impoverished orphans. Joanie was Capp's notorious parody of protest
singer/songwriter Joan Baez. The character caused a storm of
controversy in 1966, and many newspapers would only run censored
versions of the strips. Baez took Capp's implicit satire to heart,
however, as she would admit years later in her autobiography: "Mr Capp
confused me considerably. I'm sorry he's not alive to read this, it
would make him chuckle," (from And a Voice to Sing With: A Memoir,
S.W.I.N.E.: Capp used
Li'l Abner to satirize current events, fads, and
ephemeral popular culture (such as zoot suits in "Zoot Suit Yokum,"
1943). Beginning in the mid-1960s, the strip became a forum for Capp's
increasingly conservative political views. Capp, who lived in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, just a stone's throw from Harvard, satirized
campus radicals, militant student political groups and hippies during
Vietnam War protest era. The
Youth International Party
Youth International Party (YIP) and
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) emerged in
Li'l Abner as
S.W.I.N.E. (Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything!)
Parody characters include Hop-Eye De Sailor, a parody of Popeye the
Sailor, Little Orphan Andy (Little Orphan Annie); Bagwood Bumphead
(Dagwood Bumstead), Rip Derby (Rip Kirby), Manrank the Musician
(Mandrake the Magician), Little Danny Rooney (Little Annie Rooney),
and Goon Mullins (Moon Mullins).
Al Capp claimed that he always strove to give incidental characters in
Li'l Abner names that would render all further description
unnecessary. In that spirit, the following list of recurring
semi-regulars (and a few one-shots) are unreferenced: Tobacco Rhoda,
Joan L. Sullivan, Romeo McHaystack, Hamfat Gooch, Global McBlimp,
Jinx Rasputinburg, J. Sweetbody Goodpants,
Reactionary J. Repugnant, B. Fowler McNest, Fleabrain, Stubborn P.
Tolliver, Idiot J. Tolliver, Battling McNoodnik, Mayor Dan'l Dawgmeat,
Slobberlips McJab, One-Fault Jones, Swami Riva, Olman Riva, Sir Orble
Gasse-Payne, Black Rufe, Mickey Looney, "Ironpants" Bailey, Henry
Cabbage Cod, Flash Boredom, Priceless and Liceless, Hopeless and
Soapless, Disgustin' Jones, Skelton McCloset, Hawg McCall, "Good old"
Bedly Damp, and a host of others.
Main article: Fearless Fosdick
Li'l Abner also featured a comic strip-within-the-strip: Fearless
Fosdick was a parody of Chester Gould's plainclothes detective, Dick
Tracy. It first appeared in 1942, and proved so popular that it ran
Li'l Abner over the next 35 years. Gould was also
personally parodied in the series as cartoonist Lester Gooch — the
diminutive, much-harassed and occasionally deranged "creator" of
Fearless Fosdick. The style of the Fosdick sequences closely mimicked
Tracy, including the urban setting, the outrageous villains, the
galloping mortality rate, the crosshatched shadows, the lettering
style — even Gould's familiar signature was parodied in Fearless
Fosdick. Fosdick battled a succession of archenemies with absurdly
unlikely names like Rattop, Anyface, Bombface, Boldfinger, the Atom
Bum, the Chippendale Chair, and Sidney the Crooked Parrot, as well as
his own criminal mastermind father, "Fearful" Fosdick (aka "The
Original"). The razor-jawed title character (Li'l Abner's "ideel") was
perpetually ventilated by flying bullets until he resembled a slice of
Swiss cheese. The impervious Fosdick considered the gaping,
smoking holes "mere scratches," however, and always reported back in
one piece to his corrupt superior The Chief for duty the next day.
Besides being fearless, Fosdick was "pure, underpaid and purposeful,"
according to his creator. He also had notoriously bad aim — often
leaving a trail of collateral damage (in the form of bullet-riddled
pedestrians) in his wake. "When Fosdick is after a lawbreaker, there
is no escape for the miscreant," Capp wrote in 1956. "There is,
however, a fighting chance to escape for hundreds of innocent
bystanders who happen to be in the neighborhood — but only a
fighting chance. Fosdick's duty, as he sees it, is not so much to
maintain safety as to destroy crime, and it's too much to ask any
law-enforcement officer to do both, I suppose." Fosdick lived in
squalor at the dilapidated boarding house run by his mercenary
landlady, Mrs. Flintnose. He never married his own long-suffering
fiancée Prudence (ugh!) Pimpleton (they've been engaged for 17
years), but Fosdick was directly responsible for the unwitting
marriage of his biggest fan,
Li'l Abner to Daisy Mae in 1952. The
bumbling detective became the star of his own
NBC-TV puppet show that
same year. Fosdick also achieved considerable exposure as the
long-running advertising spokesman for Wildroot Cream-Oil, a popular
men's hair product of the postwar period.
Setting and fictitious locales
Although ostensibly set in the
Kentucky mountains, situations often
took the characters to different destinations — including New York
City, Washington, D.C., Hollywood, the South American Amazon, tropical
islands, the Moon, Mars, etc.— as well as some purely fanciful
worlds of Capp's imagination:
Exceeding every burlesque stereotype of Appalachia, the impoverished
Dogpatch consisted mostly of hopelessly ramshackle log
cabins, "tarnip" fields, pine trees and "hawg" wallows. Most
Dogpatchers were shiftless and ignorant; the remainder were scoundrels
and thieves. The menfolk were too lazy to work, yet
Dogpatch gals were
desperate enough to chase them (see Sadie Hawkins Day). Those who
farmed their turnip fields watched "turnip termites" swarm by the
billions every year, locust-like, to devour Dogpatch's only crop
(along with their homes, their livestock and all their clothing).
The local geography was fluid and vividly complex; Capp continually
changed it to suit either his whims or the current storyline. Natural
landmarks included (at various times) Teeterin' Rock, Onneccessary
Mountain, Bottomless Canyon, and Kissin' Rock (handy to Suicide
Cliff). Local attractions that reappeared in the strip included the
West Po'k Chop Railroad; the "Skonk Works", a dilapidated factory
located on the remote outskirts of Dogpatch; and the General
Jubilation T. Cornpone memorial statue.
In one storyline Dogpatch's "Cannonball Express" train, after 1,563
tries, finally delivers its "cargo" to
Dogpatch citizens - on Oct 12,
1946! Receiving a 13-year stack of newspapers, Li'l Abner's family
realizes that the
Great Depression is on and that banks should close;
they race to take their money out of the bank - before realizing they
have no money in the bank! Other news is the inauguration of Franklin
Delano Roosevelt as President on March 4, 1933 (although Mammy Yokam
thinks the President is Teddy Roosevelt) and a picture of Germany's
Adolf Hitler who claims to love peace while reviewing
20,000 new planes (April 21, 1933); Mammy doesn't trust Hitler but
Li'l Abner and Pappy think Hitler is a fine feller - since Senator
Fogbound (Phogbound) says so!
In the midst of the Great Depression, the hardscrabble residents of
Dogpatch allowed suffering Americans to laugh at yokels even
worse off than themselves. In Al Capp's own words,
"an average stone-age community nestled in a bleak valley, between two
cheap and uninteresting hills somewhere." Early in the continuity Capp
a few times referred to
Dogpatch being in Kentucky, but he was careful
afterwards to keep its location generic, probably to avoid
cancellations from offended
Kentucky newspapers. From then on, he
referred to it as Dogpatch, USA, and did not give any specific
location as to exactly where it was supposed to be located. Humorously
enough, many states tried to claim ownership to the little town
(Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, etc.), yet Capp would not budge. He left
Dogpatch USA so there would be no headaches and problems. Like
the Coconino County depicted in George Herriman's
Krazy Kat and the
Okefenokee Swamp of Walt Kelly's Pogo, Dogpatch's distinctive cartoon
landscape became as identified with the strip as any of its
characters. Later, Capp licensed and was part-owner of an 800-acre
(3.2 km2) $35 million theme park called
Dogpatch USA near
As utterly wretched as existence was in Dogpatch, there was one place
even worse. Frigid, faraway
Lower Slobbovia was fashioned as a
pointedly political satire of backward nations and foreign diplomacy,
and remains a contemporary reference. Its hapless residents were
perpetually waist-deep in several feet of snow, and icicles hung from
almost every frostbitten nose. The favorite dish of the starving
natives was raw polar bear (and vice versa). Lower Slobbovians spoke
with burlesque pidgin-Russian accents; the miserable frozen wasteland
of Capp's invention abounded in incongruous
Lower Slobbovia and
Dogpatch are both comic examples of modern
dystopian satire. Conceptually based on Siberia, or perhaps
specifically on Birobidzhan, Capp's icy hellhole made its first
Li'l Abner in April 1946. Ruled by Good King Nogoodnik
(sometimes known as King Stubbornovsky the Last), the Slobbovian
politicians were even more corrupt than their
Their monetary unit was the "rasbucknik," of which one was worth
nothing and a large quantity was worth a lot less, due to the trouble
of carrying them around. The local children were read harrowing tales
from "Ice-sop's Fables," which were parodies of classic Aesop Fables,
but with a darkly sardonic bent (and titles like "Coldilocks and the
Three Bares").
Other fictional locales
Other fictional locales included Skonk Hollow, El Passionato,
Kigmyland, the Republic of Crumbumbo, Lo Kunning, Faminostan, Planets
Pincus Number 2 and 7, Pineapple Junction and, most notably, the
Valley of the Shmoon.
Shmoos and other mythic creatures
Main article: Shmoo
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Shmoos, introduced in 1948, were fabulous creatures that bred
exponentially, consumed nothing, and eagerly provided everything that
humankind could wish for. Besides producing both milk (bottled, grade
A) and eggs (neatly packaged), they tasted like pork when roasted,
chicken when fried, and steak when broiled. Ironically, the shmoo's
generous nature and incredible usefulness made it a threat to
capitalism, to western society and perhaps to civilization itself.
Li'l Abner featured a whole menagerie of allegorical animals over the
years — each one was designed to satirically showcase another
disturbing aspect of human nature. They included:
Kigmies — Masochistic, aboriginal creatures who loved to be kicked,
thereby satisfying all human aggression... up to a point, after which
they went on a rampage of retaliation. (The Kigmy story was originally
fashioned as a metaphor for racial and religious oppression. Capp's
surviving preliminary sketches of the kigmies make this apparent, as
detailed in the introductory notes to
Li'l Abner Dailies 1949: Volume
15, Kitchen Sink Press, 1992).
The Bald Iggle — A cute little wide-eyed, guileless creature whose
soulful gaze compelled everyone to involuntarily tell the truth —
including lawyers, politicians, fishermen, advertisers, husbands,
wives and used car salesmen. The Iggle was officially declared a
public menace by the FBI ("The life it ruins may be your own!"), and
ultimately hunted down, confiscated and exterminated.
Nogoodniks — or bad shmoos. Nogoodniks were a "sickly shade of
green," had "li'l red eyes, sharp yaller teeth, an' a dirty look," and
were the sworn enemies of "hoomanity." Frequently sporting 5 o'clock
shadows, eye patches, scars, fangs and other ruffian attributes —
they devoured "good" shmoos, and wreaked havoc on Dogpatch. They're
finally defeated when they get subjected to George Jessel's recording
of Paul Whiteman's "Wagon Wheels," a sound so excruciating that it
kills them instantly. (Similar plot devices were used in the 1978
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and 1996 Mars Attacks!.)
Shminfants — Modified baby shmoos, which looked like human babies
but were eternally young, came in a variety of different "colors," and
never needed changing.
Shtoonks — Imported from the Slobbovian embassy, Shtoonks were
mean-spirited, sharp-toothed, hairy, flying creatures which were "not
only sneaky, smelly and surly, but - yak! yak! - just try to eat
one!!" Shtoonks had only one useful trait: they loved human misery so
much they actually enjoyed bringing bad news. They temporarily
replaced postage stamps by delivering bills and other bad news for
Mimikniks — Obsessive Slobbovian songbirds who sing like anyone
they've ever heard. (Those who've heard
Maria Callas are valued. Those
who've heard George Jessel are shot.) The only song they know the
words to is Short'nin' Bread, however, due to the fact that there was
only one record in Lower Slobbovia.
The Money Ha-Ha — An alien creature from "Planet Pincus No. 2," with
ears shaped like taxi horns. It laid U.S. currency in place of eggs.
Turnip Termites — Looking like a cross between a locust and a
piranha, billions of these insatiable pests swarm once a year to their
ancient feeding ground, Dogpatch.
Shminks — Valued for making "shmink coats." They can only be
captured by braining 'em with a kitchen door.
Pincushions — Alien beings from "Planet Pincus No. 7." Like the
earlier Moon Critters, they looked like flying sausages with pinwheels
on their posteriors.
Abominable Snow-Hams — Delectable but intelligent and sensitive
beings, presenting Tiny Yokum with an ethical dilemma: Does eating one
The Slobbovian Amp-Eater — This luminous beast consumed electric
currents; a walking energy crisis.
Bashful Bulganiks — Timid birds that are so skittish they can't be
seen by human eyes, and are thus theoretical.
Stunflowers — Murderous, thoroughly malevolent anthropomorphic
Fatoceroses — The only defense against a stampede of these bloated
pachyderms is a steaming plate of lethally addictive "Mockaroni."
Bitingales — Fiendish little devil birds whose hellish bite causes
unbearable heat— for 24 years.
The Slobbovian King Crab — A huge crustacean that only eats
Slobbovian kings. Later supplemented by a marsupial called the
Kingaroo, "which only eats [Slobbovian] kings"
The Flapaloo — A scrawny, prehistoric bird that lays 1,000 eggs per
minute. The eggs, when dissolved, turn water into gasoline. The Oil
industry captures the last one in existence — and mercilessly wrings
Gobbleglops — Looking like a cross between a hog and a teddy bear,
these insatiable creatures eat rubbish (or as Mammy calls it, "glop").
They can't be touched, as they're red-hot, living incinerators; waste
goes in and nothing comes out. Mammy leads them to America's major
polluted cities, where they obligingly devour all the garbage. But
when the glop runs out — they begin to consume everything (and
everyone) else in sight...
Shmeagles — The world's most amorous creatures, they pursue their
females at the speed of light — sometimes even faster!
Hammus Alabammus — Faux Latin designation for an adorable (and
delectable) species of swine, with a "zoot snoot" and a "drape shape."
The only known female[better source needed]in existence
resides with the Yokums — their beloved pet, Salomey.
Dialogue and catchphrases
Al Capp, a native northeasterner, wrote all the final dialogue in Li'l
Abner using his approximation of a mock-southern dialect (including
phonetic sounds, eye dialect, nonstop "creative" spelling and
deliberate malapropisms). He constantly interspersed boldface type,
and included prompt words in parentheses (chuckle!, sob!, gasp!,
shudder!, smack!, drool!, cackle!, snort!, gulp!, blush!, ugh!, etc.)
as asides, to bolster the effect of the printed speech balloons.
Almost every line was followed by two exclamation marks for added
Outside Dogpatch, characters used a variety of stock Vaudevillian
dialects. Mobsters and criminal-types invariably spoke slangy
Brooklynese, and residents of
Lower Slobbovia spoke pidgin-Russian,
with a smattering of Yinglish. Comic dialects were also devised for
offbeat British characters — like H'Inspector Blugstone of Scotland
Yard (who had a
Cockney accent) and Sir Cecil Cesspool (whose speech
was a clipped, uppercrust King's English). Various Asian, Latin,
Native American and European characters spoke in a wide range of
specific, broadly caricatured dialects as well. Capp has credited his
inspiration for vividly stylized language to early literary influences
like Charles Dickens,
Mark Twain and Damon Runyon, as well as Old-time
radio and the
Don Markstein commented that Capp's "use of language
was both unique and universally appealing; and his clean, bold
cartooning style provided a perfect vehicle for his creations."
The following is a partial list of characteristic expressions that
reappeared often in Li'l Abner:
"Amoozin' but confoozin'!"
"Yo' big, sloppy beast!!" (also, "Yo' mizzable skonk!!")
"Ef Ah had mah druthers, Ah'd druther..."
"As any fool kin plainly see!" (Response: "Ah sees!")
"What's good for General Bullmoose is good for everybody!" (Variant
from the movie: "...good for the USA!")
"Thar's no Jack S. like our Jack S!"
"Oh, happy day!"
"Th' ideel o' ev'ry one hunnerd percent, red-blooded American boy!"
"Ah'll bash yore haid in!!"
"Wal, fry mah hide!" (also, "Wal, cuss mah bones!")
"Ah has spoken!"
"Good is better than evil becuz it's nicer!"
"It hain't hoomin, thass whut it hain't!"
Toppers and alternate strips
Washable Jones (1935)
Advice fo' Chillun (1935–1943)
Small Fry (aka Small Change) (1943–1945)
Abbie an' Slats
Abbie an' Slats by
Al Capp and
Raeburn van Buren
Raeburn van Buren (1937–1971)
Long Sam by
Al Capp and
Bob Lubbers (1954–1962)
Licensing, advertising and promotion
Al Capp was a master of the arts of marketing and promotion. Publicity
campaigns were devised to boost circulation and increase public
visibility of Li'l Abner, often coordinating with national magazines,
radio and television. In 1946 Capp persuaded six of the most popular
radio personalities (Frank Sinatra, Kate Smith, Danny Kaye, Bob Hope,
Fred Waring and Smilin' Jack Smith) to broadcast a song he'd written
for Daisy Mae: (Li'l Abner) Don't Marry That Girl!! Other
promotional tie-ins included the Lena the Hyena Contest (1946), the
Shmoo Contest (1949), the Nancy O. Contest (1951), the Roger
the Lodger Contest (1964) and many others.
Capp also excelled at product endorsement, and
Li'l Abner characters
were often featured in mid-century American advertising campaigns.
Dogpatch characters pitched consumer products as varied as Grape-Nuts
cereal, Kraft caramels, Ivory soap, Oxydol, Duz and
Fruit of the Loom, Orange Crush, Nestlé's cocoa, Cheney neckties,
Pedigree pencils, Strunk chainsaws, U.S. Royal tires, Head &
Shoulders shampoo and
General Electric light bulbs. There were even
Dogpatch-themed family restaurants called "Li'l Abner's" in
Morton Grove, Illinois
Morton Grove, Illinois and Seattle, Washington.
Capp himself appeared in numerous print ads. A lifelong chain-smoker,
he happily plugged Chesterfield cigarettes; he appeared in Schaeffer
fountain pen ads with his friends
Milton Caniff and Walt Kelly;
Famous Artists School
Famous Artists School (in which he had a financial
interest) along with Caniff, Rube Goldberg, Virgil Partch, Willard
Mullin and Whitney Darrow, Jr; and, though a professed teetotaler, he
personally endorsed Rheingold Beer, among other products.
Cream of Wheat: Throughout the 1940s and 1950s,
Li'l Abner was the
Cream of Wheat
Cream of Wheat cereal in a long-running series of comic
strip-format ads that appeared in national magazines including Life,
Good Housekeeping, and Ladies' Home Journal. The ads usually featured
Daisy Mae calling for "halp" against a threatening menace — in the
person of Earthquake McGoon or, just as often, a gorilla, grizzly
bear, rampaging moose, "Injun" attack, or some natural disaster like
an avalanche, fire or flood. Abner is dispatched to rescue her, but
not before enjoying a "dee-lishus" enriched bowl of hot Cream of Wheat
which, the reader is assured, is "ready in just 5 minutes!"
Fearless Fosdick was licensed for use in an
advertising campaign for Wildroot Cream-Oil, a popular men's hair
tonic. Fosdick's iconic profile on tin signs and advertising displays
became a prominent fixture in barbershops across America — advising
readers to "Get Wildroot Cream-Oil, Charlie!" A series of ads appeared
in newspapers, magazines and comic books featuring Fosdick's farcical
battles with "Anyface" — a murderous master of disguise. (Anyface
was always given away by his telltale dandruff and messy hair,
Toys and licensed merchandise:
Dogpatch characters were heavily
licensed throughout the 1940s and 1950s: the main cast was produced as
a set of six handpuppets and 14-inch (360 mm) dolls by Baby Barry
Toys in 1957. A 10-figure set of carnival chalkware statues of
Dogpatch characters was manufactured by Artrix Products in 1951, and
Topstone introduced a line of 16 rubber
Halloween masks prior to 1960.
Licensing would reach an apex, however, with the unexpected postwar
merchandising phenomenon that followed Capp's introduction of the
Shmoo. As in the strip, shmoos suddenly appeared to be everywhere in
1948 and 1949. A garment factory in
Baltimore turned out a whole line
of shmoo apparel — including "Shmooveralls."
Shmoo dolls, clocks,
watches, jewelry, earmuffs, wallpaper, fishing lures, air fresheners,
soap, ice cream, balloons, ashtrays, comic books, records, sheet
music, toys, games,
Halloween masks, salt and pepper shakers, decals,
pinbacks, tumblers, coin banks, greeting cards, planters, neckties,
suspenders, belts, curtains, fountain pens, and other shmoo
paraphernalia were produced. In a single year, shmoo merchandise
generated over $25 million in sales. Close to a hundred licensed shmoo
products from 75 different manufacturers were produced, some of which
sold five million units each. More recently, Dark Horse Comics
issued four figures of Abner, Daisy Mae, Fosdick and the
Shmoo in 2000
as part of their line of Classic Comic Characters — statues #8, 9,
17 and 31, respectively.
Kickapoo Joy Juice: The lethal brew known as Kickapoo Joy Juice,
featured in the strip and characterized as moonshine or bootleg liquor
(it could also remove hair, paint and tattoos) has been a licensed
brand in real-life since 1965. The National
NuGrape Company first
produced the beverage, which was acquired in 1968 by the Moxie
Company, and eventually the
Monarch Beverage Company of Atlanta, Ga.
As with Mountain Dew, another euphemism for moonshine, the actual
product is a soft-drink. To this day the label features Capp's
characters Hairless Joe and Lonesome Polecat. Distribution currently
includes the United States, Canada, Singapore, Bangladesh, China,
Pakistan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Brunei,
Indonesia and Thailand.
Dogpatch USA: In 1968, an 800-acre (3.2 km2) $35 million theme
Dogpatch USA opened at Marble Falls, Arkansas, based on
Capp's work and with his support. The gift shops sold "hillbilly"
souvenirs like corncob pipes and moonshine jugs. In addition to the
newly constructed rides and attractions, many of the buildings in the
park were authentic 19th century log structures purchased by general
manager James H. Schermerhorn. The logs in each building were
numbered, catalogued, disassembled and reassembled at the park.
Dogpatch USA was a popular attraction during the 1970s, but was closed
in 1993 due to mismanagement and financial difficulties. Several
attempts have been made to reopen the park but at present it lies
abandoned. As of late 2005, the area once devoted to a live-action
Dogpatch (including a lifesize statue in the town square
Dogpatch "founder" Jubilation T. Cornpone) has been heavily
stripped by vandals and souvenir hunters, and is today slowly being
reclaimed by the surrounding Arkansas wilderness. It was announced
Dogpatch will reopen as Heritage USA in October, 2018.
Awards and recognition
Li'l Abner was a comic strip with fire in its belly and a brain in its
— John Updike, from My Well-Balanced Life on a Wooden Leg (1991)
Fans of the strip ranged from novelist John Steinbeck, who called Capp
"very possibly the best writer in the world today" in 1953, and even
earnestly recommended him for the Nobel Prize in literature — to
media critic and theorist Marshall McLuhan, who considered Capp "the
only robust satirical force in American life." John Updike, calling
Li'l Abner a "hillbilly Candide," added that the strip's "richness of
social and philosophical commentary approached the Voltairean."
Capp has been compared, at various times, to Fyodor Dostoevsky,
Jonathan Swift, Lawrence Sterne, and Rabelais. Journalism
Quarterly and Time have both called him "the
Mark Twain of
cartoonists." Charlie Chaplin, William F. Buckley, Al Hirschfeld,
Harpo Marx, Russ Meyer, John Kenneth Galbraith, Ralph Bakshi, Shel
Silverstein, Hugh Downs, Gene Shalit, Frank Cho, Daniel Clowes and
(reportedly) even Queen Elizabeth have confessed to being fans of Li'l
In his seminal book Understanding Media,
Marshall McLuhan considered
Dogpatch "a paradigm of the human situation." Comparing
Capp to other contemporary humorists, McLuhan once wrote: "Arno, Nash,
and Thurber are brittle, wistful little précieux beside Capp!" In his
essay "The Decline of the Comics," (Canadian Forum, January 1954)
literary critic Hugh MacLean classified American comic strips into
four types: daily gag, adventure, soap opera, and "an almost lost
comic ideal: the disinterested comment on life's pattern and meaning."
In the fourth type, according to MacLean, there were only two: Pogo
and Li'l Abner. In 2002 the Chicago Tribune, in a review of The Short
Life and Happy Times of the Shmoo, noted: "The wry, ornery,
brilliantly perceptive satirist will go down as one of the Great
American Humorists." In America's Great Comic Strip Artists (1997),
comics historian Richard Marschall analyzed the overtly misanthropic
subtext of Li'l Abner:
Capp was calling society absurd, not just silly; human nature not
simply misguided, but irredeemably and irreducibly corrupt. Unlike any
other strip, and indeed unlike many other pieces of literature, Li'l
Abner was more than a satire of the human condition. It was a
commentary on human nature itself.
Li'l Abner was also the subject of the first book-length, scholarly
assessment of a comic strip ever published. Li'l Abner: A Study in
American Satire by
Arthur Asa Berger
Arthur Asa Berger (Twayne, 1969) contained serious
analyses of Capp's narrative technique, his use of dialogue,
self-caricature and grotesquerie, the strip's overall place in
American satire, and the significance of social criticism and the
graphic image. "One of the few strips ever taken seriously by students
of American culture," wrote Professor Berger, "
Li'l Abner is worth
studying...because of Capp's imagination and artistry, and because of
the strip's very obvious social relevance." It was reprinted by the
University Press of Mississippi
University Press of Mississippi in 1994.
Al Capp's life and career are the subjects of a new life-sized mural
commemorating his 100th birthday, displayed in downtown Amesbury,
Massachusetts. According to the
Boston Globe (as reported on
May 18, 2010), the town has renamed its amphitheater in the artist's
honor, and is looking to develop an
Al Capp Museum. Capp is also the
subject of an upcoming PBS
American Masters documentary produced by
his granddaughter, independent filmmaker Caitlin Manning.
National Cartoonists Society
Reuben Award (1947) for "Cartoonist
of the Year."
Inkpot Award (1978) bestowed by Comic-Con International.
National Cartoonists Society
National Cartoonists Society
Elzie Segar Award (1979) for a "unique
and outstanding contribution to the profession of cartooning."
Al Capp, an inductee into the
National Cartoon Museum
National Cartoon Museum (formerly the
International Museum of Cartoon Art), is one of only 31 artists
honored by inclusion into their Hall of Fame.
Al Capp was inducted into the
Will Eisner Award
Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame in 2004.
"Neither the strip's shifting political leanings nor the slide of its
final few years had any bearing on its status as a classic; and in
1995, it was recognized as such by the U.S. Postal Service. Li'l
Abner was one of 20 American comic strips included in the Comic Strip
Classics series of USPS commemorative stamps.
Influence and legacy
Sadie Hawkins Day
An American folk event,
Sadie Hawkins Day is a pseudo-holiday entirely
created within the strip. It made its debut in
Li'l Abner on November
15, 1937. Capp originally created it as a comic plot device, but in
1939, only two years after its inauguration, a double-page spread in
Life proclaimed, "On
Sadie Hawkins Day Girls Chase Boys in 201
Colleges." By the early 1940s the comic strip event had swept the
nation's imagination and acquired a life of its own. By 1952, the
event was reportedly celebrated at 40,000 known venues. It became a
woman-empowering rite at high schools and college campuses, long
before the modern feminist movement gained prominence.
Outside the comic strip, the practical basis of a Sadie Hawkins dance
is simply one of gender role-reversal. Women and girls take the
initiative in inviting the man or boy of their choice out on a date
— almost unheard of before 1937 — typically to a dance attended by
other bachelors and their assertive dates. When Capp created the
event, it wasn't his intention to have it occur annually on a specific
date, because it inhibited his freewheeling plotting. However, due to
its enormous popularity and the numerous fan letters he received, Capp
made it a tradition in the strip every November, lasting four decades.
In many localities the tradition continues.
Additions to the language
Sadie Hawkins Day and
Sadie Hawkins dance are two of several terms
Al Capp that have entered the English language. Others
include double whammy, skunk works and Lower Slobbovia. The term shmoo
has also entered the lexicon — used in defining highly technical
concepts in no fewer than four separate fields of science.
In socioeconomics, a "shmoo" refers to any generic kind of good that
reproduces itself (as opposed to "widgets" which require resources and
In microbiology, "shmooing" is the biological term used for the
"budding" process in yeast reproduction. The cellular bulge produced
by a haploid yeast cell towards a cell of the opposite mating type
during the mating of yeast is referred to as a "shmoo," due to its
structural resemblance to the cartoon character.
In the field of particle physics, "shmoo" refers to a high energy
survey instrument— as utilized at the Los Alamos National Laboratory
Cygnus X-3 Sky Survey performed at the LAMPF (Los Alamos Meson
Physics Facility) grounds. Over one hundred white "shmoo" detectors
were at one time sprinkled around the accelerator beamstop area and
adjacent mesa to capture subatomic cosmic ray particles emitted from
the Cygnus constellation. The detectors housed scintillators and
photomultipliers in an array that gave the detector its distinctive
In electrical engineering, a shmoo plot is the technical term used for
the graphic pattern of test circuits. (The term is also used as a
verb: to "shmoo" means to run the test.)
Capp has also been credited with popularizing many terms, such as
"natcherly," schmooze, druthers, and nogoodnik, neatnik, etc. (In his
book The American Language,
H.L. Mencken credits the postwar mania for
adding "-nik" to the ends of adjectives to create nouns as beginning
— not with beatnik or Sputnik, but earlier — in the pages of Li'l
Franchise ownership and creators' rights
In the late 1940s, newspaper syndicates typically owned the
copyrights, trademarks and licensing rights to comic strips. "Capp was
an aggressive and fearless businessman," according to publisher Denis
Kitchen. "Nearly all comic strips, even today, are owned and
controlled by syndicates, not the strips' creators. And virtually all
cartoonists remain content with their diluted share of any
merchandising revenue their syndicates arrange. When the starving and
broke Capp first sold
Li'l Abner in 1934, he gladly accepted the
syndicate's standard onerous contract. But in 1947 Capp sued United
Feature Syndicate for $14 million, publicly embarrassed UFS in Li'l
Abner, and wrested ownership and control of his creation the following
In October 1947,
Li'l Abner met Rockwell P. Squeezeblood, head of the
abusive and corrupt Squeezeblood Syndicate, a thinly veiled dig at
UFS. The resulting sequence, "Jack Jawbreaker Fights Crime!!," was a
devastating satire of
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's notorious
DC Comics over
Superman (see above excerpt). It was
later reprinted in The World of
Li'l Abner (1953).
Integration of women in the NCS
Al Capp was an outspoken pioneer in favor of diversifying the National
Cartoonists Society by admitting women cartoonists. The NCS had
originally disallowed female members into its ranks. In 1949, when the
all-male club refused membership to Hilda Terry, creator of the comic
strip Teena, Capp temporarily resigned in protest. "Capp had always
advocated a more activist agenda for the Society, and he had begun in
December 1949 to make his case in the Newsletter as well as at the
meetings," wrote comics historian R. C. Harvey. According to Tom
Roberts, author of Alex Raymond: His Life and Art (2007), Capp
authored a stirring monologue that was instrumental in changing the
restrictive rules the following year.
Hilda Terry was the first woman
cartoonist to break the gender barrier when the NCS finally permitted
female members in 1950.
Social commentary in comic strips
Through Li'l Abner, the American comic strip achieved unprecedented
relevance in the postwar years, attracting new readers who were more
intellectual, more informed on current events, and less likely to read
the comics (according to Coulton Waugh, author of The Comics, 1947).
Li'l Abner made its debut in 1934, the vast majority of comic
strips were designed chiefly to amuse or thrill their readers. Capp
turned that world upside-down by routinely injecting politics and
social commentary into Li'l Abner," wrote comics historian Rick
Marschall in America's Great Comic Strip Artists (1989). With adult
readers far outnumbering juveniles,
Li'l Abner forever cleared away
the concept that humor strips were solely the domain of adolescents
Li'l Abner provided a whole new template for
contemporary satire and personal expression in comics, paving the way
for Pogo, Feiffer,
Doonesbury and MAD.
Fearless Fosdick and other
Li'l Abner comic strip parodies, such as
"Jack Jawbreaker!" (1947) and "Little Fanny Gooney" (1952), were
almost certainly an inspiration to
Harvey Kurtzman when he created his
irreverent Mad, which began in 1952 as a comic book that specifically
parodied other comics in the same subversive manner. By the time EC
Comics published Mad #1, Capp had been doing
Fearless Fosdick for
nearly a decade. Similarities between
Li'l Abner and the early Mad
include the incongruous use of mock-
Yiddish slang terms, the
nose-thumbing disdain for pop culture icons, the rampant black humor,
the dearth of sentiment and the broad visual styling. Even the
trademark comic "signs" that clutter the backgrounds of Will Elder's
panels had a precedent in Li'l Abner, in the residence of Dogpatch
entrepreneur Available Jones, though they're also reminiscent of Bill
Holman's Smokey Stover. Tellingly, Kurtzman resisted doing feature
parodies of either
Li'l Abner or
Dick Tracy in the comic book Mad,
despite their prominence.
Capp is one of the great unsung heroes of comics. I've never heard
anyone mention this, but Capp is 100% responsible for inspiring Harvey
Kurtzman to create Mad Magazine. Just look at
Fearless Fosdick — a
brilliant parody of
Dick Tracy with all those bullet holes and stuff.
Then look at Mad's "Teddy and the Pirates," "Superduperman!" or even
Little Annie Fanny. Forget about it — slam dunk! Not taking anything
away from Kurtzman, who was brilliant himself, but Capp was the source
for that whole sense of satire in comics. Kurtzman carried that
forward and passed it down to a whole new crop of cartoonists, myself
included. Capp was a genius. You wanna argue about it? I'll fight ya,
and I'll win!
Ralph Bakshi at ASIFA-Hollywood, April 2008
Parodies and imitations
Al Capp once told one of his assistants that he knew
Li'l Abner had
finally "arrived" when it was first pirated as a pornographic Tijuana
bible parody in the mid-1930s.
Li'l Abner was also parodied in
1954 (as "Li'l Melvin" by "Ol' Hatt") in the pages of EC Comics' humor
comic, Panic, edited by Al Feldstein. Kurtzman eventually did
Li'l Abner (as "Li'l Ab'r") in 1957, in his short-lived humor
magazine, Trump. Both the Trump and Panic parodies were drawn by EC
legend, Will Elder. In 1947, Will Eisner's
The Spirit satirized the
comic strip business in general, as a denizen of Central City tries to
murder cartoonist "Al Slapp," creator of "Li'l Adam." Capp was also
caricatured as an ill-mannered, boozy cartoonist (Capp was a
teetotaler in real life) named "Hal Rapp" in the comic strip Mary
Allen Saunders and Ken Ernst. Supposedly done in retaliation
for Capp's "Mary Worm" parody in
Li'l Abner (1956), a media-fed "feud"
commenced briefly between the rival strips. It all turned out to be a
collaborative hoax, however — cooked up by Capp and his longtime pal
Saunders as an elaborate publicity stunt.
Li'l Abner's success also sparked a handful of comic strip imitators.
Jasper Jooks by Jess "Baldy" Benton (1948–'49), Ozark Ike
(1945–'53) and Cotton Woods (1955–'58), both by Ray Gotto, were
clearly inspired by Capp's strip. Boody Rogers' Babe was a peculiar
series of comic books about a beautiful hillbilly girl who lived with
her kin in the
Ozarks — with many similarities to Li'l Abner. A
derivative hillbilly feature called Looie Lazybones, an out-and-out
imitation (drawn by a young Frank Frazetta) ran in several issues of
Thrilling Comics in the late 1940s. Charlton published the
Hillbilly Comics by Art Gates in 1955, featuring "Gumbo
Galahad," who was a dead ringer for Li'l Abner, as was Pokey Oakey by
Don Dean, which ran in MLJ's Top-Notch Laugh and Pep Comics. Later,
many fans and critics saw Paul Henning's popular TV sitcom, The
Beverly Hillbillies (1962–'71) as owing much of its inspiration to
Li'l Abner, prompting
Alvin Toffler to ask Capp about the similarities
in a 1965
Popularity and production
"But, cuss it, Ah is still alive!!" Li'l Abner, Daisy Mae, Mammy,
Salomey and Pappy survive another narrow scrape in this strip excerpt
from March 29, 1947.
Li'l Abner made its debut on August 13, 1934 in eight North American
newspapers, including the New York Mirror. Initially owned and
syndicated through United Feature (now known as United Media), a
division of the E.W. Scripps Company, it was an immediate success.
According to publisher Denis Kitchen, Capp's "hapless Dogpatchers hit
a nerve in Depression-era America. Within three years Abner's
circulation climbed to 253 newspapers, reaching over 15,000,000
readers. Before long he was in hundreds more, with a total readership
exceeding 60,000,000." At its peak, the strip was read daily by 70
million Americans (when the U.S. population was only 180 million),
with a circulation of more than 900 newspapers in North America and
During the extended peak of the strip, the workload grew to include
advertising, merchandising, promotional work, comic book adaptations,
public service material and other specialty work — in addition to
the regular six dailies and one Sunday strip per week. Capp had a
platoon of assistants in later years, who worked under his direct
supervision. They included Andy Amato, Harvey Curtis, Walter Johnson
and, notably, a young Frank Frazetta, who penciled the Sunday
continuity from studio roughs from 1954 to the end of 1961 — before
his fame as a fantasy artist.
Sensitive to his own experience working on Joe Palooka, Capp
frequently drew attention to his assistants in interviews and
publicity pieces. A 1950 cover story in Time even included photos of
two of his employees, whose roles in the production were detailed by
Capp. Ironically, this highly irregular policy has led to the
misconception that his strip was "ghosted" by other hands. The
Li'l Abner has been well documented, however. In point
of fact, Capp maintained creative control over every stage of
production for virtually the entire run of the strip. Capp himself
originated the stories, wrote the dialogue, designed the major
characters, rough penciled the preliminary staging and action of each
panel, oversaw the finished pencils, and drew and inked the faces and
hands of the characters. "He had the touch," Frazetta said of Capp in
2008. "He knew how to take an otherwise ordinary drawing and really
make it pop. I'll never knock his talent."
Many have commented on the shift in Capp's political viewpoint, from
as liberal as Pogo in his early years to as conservative as Little
Orphan Annie when he reached middle age. At one extreme, he displayed
consistently devastating humor, while at the other, his
mean-spiritedness came to the fore — but which was which seems to
depend on the commentator's own point of view. From beginning to end,
Capp was acid-tongued toward the targets of his wit, intolerant of
hypocrisy, and always wickedly funny. After about 40 years, however,
Capp's interest in Abner waned, and this showed in the strip itself...
— Don Markstein's Toonopedia
Li'l Abner lasted until November 13, 1977, when Capp retired with an
apology to his fans for the recently declining quality of the strip,
which he said had been the best he could manage due to advancing
illness. "If you have any sense of humor about your strip — and I
had a sense of humor about mine — you knew that for three or four
years Abner was wrong. Oh hell, it's like a fighter retiring. I stayed
on longer than I should have," he admitted. "When he retired Li'l
Abner, newspapers ran expansive articles and television commentators
talked about the passing of an era. People magazine ran a substantial
feature, and even the comics-free
New York Times
New York Times devoted nearly a full
page to the event," according to publisher Denis Kitchen. Capp, a
lifelong chain smoker, died from emphysema two years later at age 70,
at his home in
South Hampton, New Hampshire
South Hampton, New Hampshire on November 5, 1979.
In 1988 and 1989 many newspapers ran reruns of
Li'l Abner episodes,
mostly from the 1940s run, distributed by Newspaper Enterprise
Association and Capp Enterprises. Following the 1989 revival of the
Pogo comic strip, a revival of
Li'l Abner was also planned in 1990.
Drawn by cartoonist Steve Stiles, the new Abner was approved by
Capp's widow and brother, Elliott Caplin, but Al Capp's daughter,
Julie Capp, objected at the last minute and permission was withdrawn.
Li'l Abner in other media
Radio and recordings
John Hodiak in the title role, the
Li'l Abner radio serial ran
NBC from Chicago, from November 20, 1939 to December 6,
1940. Rounding out the cast were soap opera star Laurette Fillbrandt
as Daisy Mae, Hazel Dopheide as Mammy Yokum, and Clarence Hartzell
(who was also a prominent actor on Vic and Sade) as Pappy. Durwood
Kirby was the announcer. The radio show was not written by
Al Capp —
but by Charles Gussman. However, Gussman consulted closely with Capp
on the storylines. (A familiar radio personality, Capp was frequently
heard on the
NBC broadcast series, Monitor. He also briefly filled-in
for radio journalist Drew Pearson, participated in a March 2, 1948
America's Town Meeting of the Air
America's Town Meeting of the Air debate on ABC, and hosted his own
syndicated, 500-station radio show.)
Shmoo Sings with Earl Rogers — 78 rpm (1948) Allegro
Shmoo Club b/w The
Shmoo Is Clean, the
Shmoo Is Neat — 45 rpm
(1949) Music You Enjoy, Inc.
The Snuggable, Huggable
Shmoo b/w The
Shmoo Doesn't Cost a Cent — 45
rpm (1949) Music You Enjoy, Inc.
Shmoo Lesson b/w A
Shmoo Can Do Most Anything — 45 rpm (1949) Music
You Enjoy, Inc.
Li'l Abner Goes to Town — 78 rpm (1950) Capp-Tone Comic Record
Li'l Abner (Original Cast Recording) — LP (1956) Columbia
Li'l Abner (Motion Picture Soundtrack) — LP (1959) Columbia
An Interview with
Al Capp — EP (1959) Smithsonian Folkways
Li'l Abner fo' Chillun — LP (c. 1960) 20th FOX
Al Capp on Campus — LP (1969) Jubilee
Selections from the
Li'l Abner musical score have been recorded by
Percy Faith and
Mario Lanza to
André Previn and Shelly
Manne. Over the years,
Li'l Abner characters have inspired diverse
compositions in pop, jazz, country and even rock 'n' roll:
Kickapoo Joy Juice
Kickapoo Joy Juice Jolt (1946) from The
Li'l Abner Suite, was
composed for The
Alvino Rey Orchestra by Bud Estes.
Kickapoo Joy Juice, composed by Duke Ellington, was recorded live at
Carnegie Hall in December, 1947.
Lonesome Polecat, written by
Johnny Mercer &
Gene de Paul for the
musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), was later recorded by
Bobby Darin and the McGuire Sisters.
Fearless Fosdick, composed by Bill Holman, was recorded live in 1954
Vic Lewis and his Orchestra, featuring Tubby Hayes.
Daisy Mae, written and recorded by Ernest Tubb, appeared on the Decca
album The Daddy of 'Em All (1957).
Kickapoo Joy Juice
Kickapoo Joy Juice (1962) written by Jack Greenback, Mel Larson &
Jerry Marcellino, was recorded by The Rivingtons.
Sadie Hawkins Dance (2001) written by Matt Thiessen, was recorded by
Fearless Fosdick's Tune, composed and recorded by Umberto Fiorentino,
appeared on the Brave Art/Columbia-Sony CD Things to Come (2002).
Li'l Abner — by Ben Oakland,
Milton Berle & Milton Drake (1940)
Leo Feist Publishers
Sadie Hawkins Day — by Don Raye & Hughie Prince (1940) Leeds
The USA by Day and the
RAF by Night — by
Hal Block & Bob Musel
(1944) Paramount Music Corp.
(Li'l Abner) Don't Marry That Girl!! — by
Al Capp & Sam H. Stept
(1946) Barton Music Corp.
Shmoo Song — by John Jacob Loeb &
Jule Styne (1948) Harvey
Shmoo Songs — by
Gerald Marks (1949) Bristol Music Corp.
The Kigmy Song — by Joe Rosenfield & Fay Tishman (1949) Town and
Country Music Co.
I'm Lonesome and Disgusted!!! — by "Irving Vermyn" [Al Capp, Bob
Lubbers & Dave Lambert] (1956) General Music
Namely You — by
Johnny Mercer &
Gene de Paul (1956) Commander
Love in a Home — by
Johnny Mercer &
Gene de Paul (1956)
If I Had My Druthers — by
Johnny Mercer &
Gene de Paul (1956)
Jubilation T. Cornpone — by
Johnny Mercer &
Gene de Paul (1956)
Comic books and reprints
Tip Top Comics (1936–1948) anthology (United Feature Syndicate)
Comics on Parade (1945–1946) anthology (UFS)
Sparkler Comics (1946–1948) anthology (UFS)
Li'l Abner (1947) 9 issues (Harvey Comics)
Li'l Abner (1948) 3 issues (Super Publishing)
Tip Topper Comics (1949–1954) anthology (UFS)
Li'l Abner (1949–1955) 28 issues (Toby)
Shmoo Comics (1949–1950) 5 issues (Toby)
Dogpatch (1949) 4 issues (Toby)
Li'l Abner in The Mystery o' the Cave (1950) (Oxydol
Al Capp's Daisy Mae in Ham Sangwidges (1950) (
Shmoo in Washable Jones' Travels (1950) (
Al Capp's Wolf Gal (1951–1952) 2 issues (Toby)
Washable Jones and the
Shmoo (1953) (Toby)
Party Time with Coke (1958) monthly digest featuring Al Capp's Boys
'n' Gals (
No comprehensive reprint of the series had been attempted until
Kitchen Sink Press began publishing the
Li'l Abner Dailies in
hardcover and paperback, one year per volume, in 1988. The demise of
KSP in 1999 stopped the reprint series at Volume 27 (1961). More
Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse Comics reprinted the limited series Al Capp's
Li'l Abner: The Frazetta Years, in four full-color volumes covering
the Sunday pages from 1954 to 1961. They also released an archive
hardcover reprint of the complete
Shmoo Comics in 2009, followed by a
Shmoo volume of compete newspaper strips in 2011.
San Diego Comic Con
San Diego Comic Con in July 2009, IDW announced the upcoming
publication of Al Capp's Li'l Abner: The Complete Dailies and Color
Sundays: Vol. 1 (1934–1936). The comprehensive series, a reprinting
of the complete 43-year history of Li'l Abner spanning a projected
20 volumes, began on April 7, 2010.
Public service works
Capp provided specialty artwork for civic groups, government agencies
and charitable or non-profit organizations, spanning several
decades. The following titles are all single-issue, educational
comic books and pamphlets produced for various public services:
Al Capp by
Li'l Abner — public service giveaway issued by the Red
Yo' Bets Yo' Life! — public service giveaway issued by the U.S. Army
Li'l Abner Joins the Navy — public service giveaway issued by the
Dept. of the Navy (1950)
Fearless Fosdick and the Case of the Red Feather — public service
giveaway issued by Red Feather Services, a forerunner of United Way
The Youth You Supervise — public service giveaway issued by the U.S.
Department of Labor (1956)
Mammy Yokum and the Great
Dogpatch Mystery! — public service
giveaway issued by the
Anti-Defamation League of
B'nai B'rith (1956)
Operation: Survival! — public service giveaway issued by the Dept.
Civil Defense (1957)
Natural Disasters! — public service giveaway issued by the Dept. of
Civil Defense (1957)
Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story
Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story — public service
giveaway issued by
The Fellowship of Reconciliation (1958)
Li'l Abner and the Creatures from Drop-Outer Space — public service
giveaway issued by the
Job Corps (1965)
Dogpatch characters were used in national campaigns for
the U.S. Treasury, the Cancer Foundation, the March of Dimes, the
National Heart Fund, the Sister Kenny Foundation, the Boy Scouts of
America, Community Chest, the National Reading Council, Minnesota
Tuberculosis and Health Association, Christmas Seals, the National
Amputation Foundation and Disabled American Veterans, among
Animation and puppetry
Beginning in 1944,
Li'l Abner was adapted into a series of color
theatrical cartoons for Columbia Pictures, directed by Sid Marcus, Bob
Wickersham and Howard Swift.
Al Capp was reportedly not pleased with
the results, and the series was discontinued after five shorts.
Evil-Eye Fleegle and his "whammy" make an animated cameo appearance in
U.S. Armed Forces
U.S. Armed Forces
Special Weapons Project training film, Self
Preservation in an Atomic Attack (1950). Lena the Hyena makes a brief
animated appearance in
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988).
Fearless Fosdick proved popular enough to be incorporated
into a short-lived TV series. The ambitious puppet show was created
and directed by puppeteer Mary Chase, written by Everett Crosby and
voiced by John Griggs, Gilbert Mack and Jean Carson. Fearless Fosdick
premiered on Sunday afternoons on NBC; 13 episodes featuring the Mary
Chase marionettes were produced. The storylines and villains were
mostly separate from the comic strip and unique to the show. Among the
original TV characters were "Mr. Ditto," "Harris Tweed" (a disembodied
suit of clothes), "Swenn Golly" (a Svengali-like mesmerist),
counterfeiters "Max Millions" and "Minton Mooney," "Frank N. Stein,"
"Batula," "Match Head" (a pyromaniac), "Sen-Sen O'Toole," "Shmoozer"
and "Herman the Ape Man."
Shmoos were originally meant to be included in the 1956 Broadway Li'l
Abner musical, employing stage puppetry. The idea was reportedly
abandoned in the development stage by the producers, however, for
reasons of practicality. After Capp's death, the
Shmoo was used in two
Hanna-Barbera produced Saturday morning cartoon series for TV. First
in the 1979 The New
Shmoo (later incorporated into Fred and Barney
Meet the Shmoo), and again from 1980 to 1981 in the Flintstone Comedy
Show, in the Bedrock Cops segments.
Stage, film and television
Li'l Abner movie was made at RKO Radio Pictures in 1940,
Jeff York (credited as Granville Owen), Martha O'Driscoll,
Mona Ray and Johnnie Morris. Although it lacks the political satire
and Broadway polish of the 1959 version, this film gives a fairly
accurate portrayal of the various
Dogpatch characters up until that
time. Of particular note is the appearance of
Buster Keaton as
Lonesome Polecat, and a title song with lyrics by Milton Berle. Other
familiar silent comedy veterans in the cast include Bud Jamison,
Lucien Littlefield, Johnny Arthur, Mickey Daniels, and ex-Keystone
Cops Chester Conklin,
Edgar Kennedy and Al St. John. The story
concerns Daisy Mae's efforts to catch
Li'l Abner on Sadie Hawkins Day.
Since this movie predates their comic strip marriage, Abner makes a
last-minute escape (natcherly!)
A much more successful musical comedy adaptation of the strip, also
entitled Li'l Abner, opened on Broadway at the St. James Theater on
November 15, 1956 and had a long run of 693 performances, followed
by a nationwide tour. Among the actors originally considered for the
title role were
Dick Shawn and Andy Griffith. The stage musical, with
music and lyrics by
Gene de Paul and Johnny Mercer, was adapted into a
Technicolor motion picture at Paramount in 1959 by producer Norman
Panama and director Melvin Frank, with an original score by Nelson
Riddle. Starring Peter Palmer, Leslie Parrish, Julie Newmar,
Stella Stevens, Stubby Kaye, Billie Hayes, Howard St. John, Joe E.
Marks, Carmen Alvarez, William Lanteau and Bern Hoffman, with cameos
by Jerry Lewis, Robert Strauss, Ted Thurston, Alan Carney, Valerie
Harper and Donna Douglas. Three members of the original Broadway cast
did not appear in the film version:
Charlotte Rae (who was replaced by
Billie Hayes early in the stage production),
Edie Adams (who was
pregnant during the filming) and Tina Louise. The musical has since
become a perennial favorite of high school and amateur productions,
due to its popular appeal and modest production requirements.
Li'l Abner never sold as a TV series despite several attempts
(including an unsold pilot that aired once on
NBC on September 5,
Al Capp was a familiar face on television for twenty
years. No other cartoonist to date has come close to Capp's televised
exposure. Capp appeared as a regular on The
Author Meets the Critics.
He was also a periodic panelist on ABC and NBC's Who Said That? Capp
has appeared as himself on The Ed Sullivan Show, Sid Caesar's Your
Show of Shows, The Today Show, The Red Skelton Show, The Merv Griffin
Show, The Mike Douglas Show, and on
This Is Your Life
This Is Your Life on February 12,
1961 with host
Ralph Edwards and honoree Peter Palmer. He hosted at
least five television programs between 1952 and 1972 — three
different talk shows called The
Al Capp Show (twice), Al Capp, Al
Capp's America (a live "chalk talk," with Capp providing a barbed
commentary while sketching cartoons), and a game show called Anyone
Can Win. In addition, Capp was a frequent celebrity guest. His
appearances on NBC's
The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show spanned three emcees; Steve
Jack Paar and Johnny Carson.
A 1971 musical special on ABC: the modern world comes to Dogpatch.
Comic strip adaptations
Kickapoo Juice (1944) Columbia
Amoozin' but Confoozin' (1944) Columbia
A Pee-kool-yar Sit-chee-ay-shun (1944) Columbia
Porkuliar Piggy (1944) Columbia
Sadie Hawkins Day (1944) Columbia
Li'l Abner (1940) RKO Radio Pictures
Fearless Fosdick (1952)
NBC (series) 13 episodes
Li'l Abner (1959) Paramount
Li'l Abner (5 September 1967)
NBC (unsold television pilot with Sammy
Jackson and Judy Canova)
Li'l Abner (26 April 1971) ABC (TV special)
Li'l Abner in
Dogpatch Today (9 November 1978)
NBC (TV special)
Beyond the comic strip
"ABNER" was the name given to the first codebreaking computer used by
the National Security Agency. According to longtime NSA computer
expert Samuel Simon Snyder, "We chose the name from
Li'l Abner Yokum,
the comic strip character who was a big brute, but not very smart,
because we believed that computers, which can be big and do
brute-force operations, aren't very bright either. They can only
follow simple instructions but can't think for themselves." ABNER was
originally given only 15 simple programs, later doubled to 30.
Nevertheless, when it was secretly completed in April 1952 it was the
"most sophisticated computer of its time."
The 1989 film I Want to Go Home (Je Veux Rentrer a la Maison,
screenplay by Jules Feiffer) has a scene where the main character, a
retired cartoonist played by Adolph Green, makes an unexpectedly
emotional appeal for
Al Capp and his legacy.
Dogpatch is a historical part of San Francisco dating
back to the 1860s that escaped the earthquake and fire of 1906.
Later in the 20th century,
U.S. Army and
Marine Corps units in Vietnam
Vietnam War called their housing compounds "Dogpatches,"
due to the primitive living conditions.
Li'l Abner, Daisy Mae, Wolf Gal, Earthquake McGoon, Lonesome Polecat,
Hairless Joe, Sadie Hawkins, Silent Yokum and
Fearless Fosdick all
found their way onto the painted noses of bomber aircraft during World
War II and the Korean War, as did Kickapoo Joy Juice, Lena the Hyena
and the Shmoo. Moonbeam McSwine was immortalized as the P-51D Mustang
USAAF bomber escort fighter flown by ace pilot Capt. William T.
Whisner, still operable and appearing in aviator air shows as of 2008.
Al Capp always claimed to have effectively created the miniskirt, when
he first put one on Daisy Mae in 1934.
Li'l Abner was censored for the first, but not the last time in
September 1947, and was pulled from papers by Scripps-Howard. The
controversy, as reported in Time, centered on Capp's portrayal of the
US Senate. Said Edward Leech of Scripps, "We don't think it is good
editing or sound citizenship to picture the Senate as an assemblage of
freaks and crooks... boobs and undesirables."
Li'l Abner has one odd design quirk that has puzzled readers for
decades: the part in his hair always faces the viewer, no matter which
direction Abner is facing. In response to the question "Which side
does Abner part his hair on?," Capp would answer, "Both." Capp claimed
that he found the right "look" for
Li'l Abner with Henry Fonda's
character Dave Tolliver in The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936).
Fonda later commented, "He's never told me, but I was told he has said
Joan Baez took
Al Capp to court in 1967 over Joanie Phoanie. She did
not ask for damages; it was instead a bid to force a public
retraction. The judge decided in Capp's favor, however. Declaring that
satire was also protected free speech, he refused to order Capp to
cease and desist. In recent years, Baez has admitted to being more
amused by the parody — even including an excerpt in her memoirs (And
a Voice to Sing With: A Memoir, published in 1987). "I wish I could
have laughed at this at the time," she wrote in a caption under one of
"I didn't start this Mammy Yokum did." was the reply Ralph Kramden
told his wife Alice (concerning a comment made by Ralph's mother
in-law) in Episode #2 Funny Money of The Honeymooners.
Turk Murphy christened his San Francisco
jazz club "Earthquake McGoon's," in honor of the perennial Dogpatch
In 1968, the first year of operation,
Dogpatch USA had 300,000
visitors. Admission was $1.50 for adults, and half price for children.
Al Capp's son Colin Capp worked at the park that year, and met and
married Vicki Cox, the actress portraying Moonbeam McSwine. Capp had
previously spoofed the idea of a theme park based on his characters in
Li'l Abner, in a 1955 Disneyland parody called "Hal Yappland."
Al Capp designed the 23-foot-high (7.0 m) statue of Josiah
Flintabattey Flonatin ("Flinty") that graces the city of Flin Flon,
Manitoba. The town's name is taken from the lead character in a 1905
The Sunless City
The Sunless City by J. E. Preston Muddock. Capp donated
his time and talent to create the image. The character is of such
importance to the identity of the city that the local Chamber of
Commerce commissioned the minting of a $3.00 coin, which was
considered legal tender within the city during the year following its
issue. The Chamber had the fiberglass sculpture moved to its present
location at the
Flin Flon Tourist Park in 1962.
"Natcherly," Capp's bastardization of "naturally," turns up
occasionally in popular culture — even without a specifically rural
theme. It can be found in West Side Story, for instance, in Stephen
Sondheim's original lyrics to "Gee, Officer Krupke" (1957).
Mell Lazarus, creator of
Miss Peach and Momma, wrote a comic novel in
1963 titled The Boss Is Crazy, Too. It was partly inspired by his
apprenticeship days working for
Al Capp and his brother Elliot Caplin
at Toby Press, which published
Shmoo Comics in the late 1940s. In a
seminar at the
Charles Schulz Museum
Charles Schulz Museum on November 8, 2008, Lazarus
called his experience at Toby "the five funniest years of my life."
Lazarus went on to cite Capp as one of the "four essentials" in the
field of newspaper cartoonists — along with Walt Kelly, Charles
Schulz and Milton Caniff.
Gary Herbert controversially referred to himself as
"Available Jones", the
Dogpatch entrepreneur who does anything for a
price, at a private meeting with lobbyists April 27, 2016 to raise
funds for his re-election campaign.
^ Looking Back at the Class of ’34, Hogan's Alley #1, 1994
^ M. Thomas Inge, "Li'l Abner, Snuffy, Pogo, and Friends: The South in
the American Comic Strip," Southern Quarterly (2011) 48#2 pp 6–74
Li'l Abner "biography" at deniskitchen.com
^ Parody of Steve Canyon! Sept 15, 1957
^ Daisy Mae "biography" at deniskitchen.com
^ "Big Deals: Comics’ Highest-Profile Moments," Hogan's Alley #7,
^ Mammy Yokum "biography" at deniskitchen.com
^ Pappy Yokum "biography" at deniskitchen.com
^ Honest Abe "biography" at deniskitchen.com
^ Tiny Yokum "biography" at deniskitchen.com
^ Marryin' Sam "biography" at deniskitchen.com
^ "Speaking of Pictures," Life, 12 June 1944
Kickapoo Joy Juice
Kickapoo Joy Juice page at deniskitchen.com
^ Sioux City Soos at Baseball-Reference.com
Joe Btfsplk "biography" at deniskitchen.com
^ Stupefyin' Jones "biography" at deniskitchen.com
^ General Bullmoose "biography" at deniskitchen.com
^ Earthquake McGoon "biography" at deniskitchen.com
^ Evil-Eye Fleegle "biography" at deniskitchen.com
^ "The Comic Page Is the Last Refuge of Classic Art," NEMO #18, April
1986, pg. 16
^ Go Comics
^ Sadie Hawkins "biography" at deniskitchen.com
Fearless Fosdick "biography" at deniskitchen.com
Dogpatch page at deniskitchen.com
^ Baker, Russell (1996-01-13). "Hillary in
Lower Slobbovia — ''NY
Times'' Jan. 13, 1996". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
Lower Slobbovia page at deniskitchen.com
Shmoo "biography" at deniskitchen.com
^ Bad Shmoos from the Scoop Archive — 8/24/2002
^ "The Comics on the Couch" by Gerald Clarke, Time Dec. 13, 1971
^ a b
Li'l Abner at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the
original on October 26, 2015.
^ Anything Can Happen in a Comic Strip: Centennial Reflections on an
American Art Form by M. Thomas Inge (1995) Univ. Press of Mississippi,
^ "Gallery of vintage ads featuring
Li'l Abner as spokesman". TJS Labs
Gallery of Graphic Design. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
^ Newsweek September 5, 1949 and Editor & Publisher July 16, 1949
^ "Official website of Kickapoo Joy Juice". Kickapoojoy.com. Retrieved
^ Exile in Dogpatch: The Curious Neglect of Cartoonist Al Capp, City
Journal, Spring 2010
^ Brown, Rodger, "
Dogpatch USA: The Road to Hokum" article, Southern
Changes: The Journal of the Southern Regional Council, Vol. 15, No. 3,
1993, pp. 18–26
^ Spotlight on Daniel Clowes, CBR 18 October 2010
^ Town to Honor Famous Cartoonist Who Lived, Worked in Amesbury
Newburyport Daily News April 20, 2010
^ Amesbury Gives
Li'l Abner His Due
Boston Globe May 15, 2010
^ "Al Capp's biography card from the National Cartoonists Society".
^ The Hooded Utilitarian: Comics’ contributions to colloquial
English, 18 December 2010
^ TCJ.com: "Tales of the Founding of the National Cartoonists Society
Part III" from Meanwhile...: A Biography of
Milton Caniff by R.C.
Harvey, Fantagraphics (2007)
^ "''Those Dirty Little Comics'' by Art Spiegelman, ''Salon'' August
19, 1997". Salon.com. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
^ "Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine: 464: "Li'l Melvin"".
Pappysgoldenage.blogspot.com. 2009-02-02. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
Publishing Co LLC. "
Al Capp biography by Denis
Kitchen". Deniskitchen.com. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
^ Mason, Edward (ed.), Telling Stories: The Comic Art of Frank
Frazetta (Underwood Books, 2008) pp. 14–17.
^ Monday, Nov. 19, 1979 (1979-11-19). "Mr. Dogpatch— 1979 ''Time''
obituary". Time.com. Retrieved 2009-08-29. CS1 maint: Multiple
names: authors list (link)
^ Passing Through Dogpatch: Al Capp's
Li'l Abner by Steve Stiles
^ ComicVine.com: Al Capp's
Li'l Abner comics
^ IDW Library of American Comics Archived 2010-05-11 at the Wayback
^ "Presarvin' Freedom: Al Capp, Treasury Man," Hogan's Alley Online
Magazine, 9 May 2012 Archived 8 July 2012 at Archive.is
^ Love, David A. "Egyptians draw inspiration from Civil Rights
Movement comic book."
The Grio (February 2, 2011).
Al Capp Replies to Critic of Newspaper Comic Strips;" The News and
Courier, 11 May 1950
Fearless Fosdick (TV show) at IMDB
Li'l Abner Lost In Hollywood by Michael H. Price". Comicmix.com.
2007-11-11. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
Li'l Abner on Broadway". Povonline.com. 1956-11-15. Archived from
the original on 2009-08-21. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
Li'l Abner in Hollywood". Povonline.com. Archived from the original
on 2009-08-19. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
^ DVD Verdict review 4/25/2005:
Li'l Abner Archived 2010-10-26 at the
^ "blog entry by Mark Evanier". Newsfromme.com. Archived from the
original on 2008-12-06. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
^ Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security
Agency (Anchor Books, 2002) by James Bamford.
^ "Pier 70". Pier70sf.org. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
^ Monday, Sep. 29, 1947 (1947-09-29). "Tain't Funny — ''Time''".
Time.com. Retrieved 2009-08-29. CS1 maint: Multiple names:
authors list (link)
^ Steen, Mike. Hollywood Speaks: An Oral History. Putnam, 1974.
^ Friday, Jan. 20, 1967 (1967-01-20). ""Which One Is the Phoanie?"
''Time'' Jan. 20, 1967". Time.com. Retrieved 2009-08-29. CS1
maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
^ Roche, Lisa Riley (May 16, 2016). "Gov.
Gary Herbert says 'tone' of
fundraising will change amid criticism". Deseret News. Retrieved 17
Since his death in 1979,
Al Capp and his work have been the subject of
more than 40 books, including three biographies. Underground
Li'l Abner expert
Denis Kitchen has published,
co-published, edited, or otherwise served as consultant on nearly all
of them. Kitchen is currently[when?] compiling a monograph on the life
and career of Al Capp.
Li'l Abner in New York (1936) Whitman Publishing
Li'l Abner Among the Millionaires (1939) Whitman Publishing
Li'l Abner and
Sadie Hawkins Day (1940) Saalfield Publishing
Li'l Abner and the Ratfields (1940) Saalfield Publishing
Sheridan, Martin, Comics and Their Creators (1942) R.T. Hale & Co.
(1977) Hyperion Press
Waugh, Coulton, The Comics (1947) Macmillan Publishers
Capp, Al, Newsweek Magazine (November 24, 1947) "Li'l Abner's Mad
Saturday Review of Literature (March 20, 1948) "The Case for
Capp, Al, The Life and Times of the
Shmoo (1948) Simon & Schuster
Capp, Al, The Nation (March 21, 1949) "There Is a Real Shmoo"
Capp, Al, Cosmopolitan Magazine (June 1949) "I Don't Like Shmoos"
Capp, Al, Atlantic Monthly (April 1950) "I Remember Monster"
Capp, Al, Time Magazine (November 6, 1950) "Die Monstersinger"
Capp, Al, Life Magazine (March 31, 1952) "It's Hideously True!!..."
Capp, Al, Real Magazine (December 1952) "The REAL Powers in America"
Capp, Al, The World of
Li'l Abner (1953) Farrar, Straus & Young
Leifer, Fred, The
Li'l Abner Official Square Dance Handbook (1953)
Mikes, George, Eight Humorists (1954) Allen Wingate (1977) Arden
Lehrer, Tom, The Tom Lehrer Song Book, introduction by
Al Capp (1954)
Capp, Al, Al Capp's Fearless Fosdick: His Life and Deaths (1956) Simon
Capp, Al, Al Capp's Bald Iggle: The Life it Ruins May Be Your Own
(1956) Simon & Schuster
Capp, Al, et al. Famous Artists Cartoon Course — 3 volumes (1956)
Famous Artists School
Capp, Al, Life Magazine (January 14, 1957) "The
Dogpatch Saga: Al
Capp's Own Story"
Brodbeck, Arthur J, et al. "How to Read
Li'l Abner Intelligently" from
Mass Culture: Popular Arts in America, pp. 218–224 (1957) Free
Capp, Al, The Return of the
Shmoo (1959) Simon & Schuster
Hart, Johnny, Back to B.C., introduction by
Al Capp (1961) Fawcett
Lazarus, Mell, Miss Peach, introduction by
Al Capp (1962) Pyramid
Gross, Milt, He Done Her Wrong, introduction by
Al Capp (1963 Ed.)
White, David Manning, and Robert H. Abel, eds. The Funnies: An
American Idiom (1963) Free Press
White, David Manning, ed. From
Dogpatch to Slobbovia: The (Gasp!)
Li'l Abner (1964) Beacon Press
Capp, Al, Life International Magazine (June 14, 1965) "My Life as an
Playboy Magazine (December 1965) interview with Al
Capp, pp. 89–100
Moger, Art, et al. Chutzpah Is, introduction by
Al Capp (1966) Colony
Berger, Arthur Asa, Li'l Abner: A Study in American Satire (1969)
Twayne Publishers (1994) Univ. Press of Mississippi
Sugar, Andy, Saga Magazine (December 1969) "On the Campus Firing Line
with Al Capp"
Gray, Harold, Arf! The Life and Hard Times of Little Orphan Annie,
Al Capp (1970) Arlington House
Moger, Art, Some of My Best Friends are People, introduction by Al
Capp (1970) Directors Press
Capp, Al, The Hardhat's Bedtime Story Book (1971) Harper & Row
Robinson, Jerry, The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art
(1974) G.P. Putnam's Sons
Horn, Maurice, The World Encyclopedia of Comics (1976) Chelsea House
Blackbeard, Bill, ed. The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics
(1977) Smithsonian Inst. Press/Harry Abrams
Marschall, Rick, Cartoonist PROfiles #37 (March 1978) interview with
Capp, Al, The Best of
Li'l Abner (1978) Holt, Rinehart & Winston
Lardner, Ring, You Know Me Al: The Comic Strip Adventures of Jack
Keefe, introduction by
Al Capp (1979) Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Van Buren, Raeburn,
Abbie an' Slats
Abbie an' Slats — 2 volumes (1983) Ken Pierce
Capp, Al, Li'l Abner:
Reuben Award Winner Series Book 1 (1985)
Nemo, the Classic Comics Library #18, pp. 3–32
Li'l Abner Dailies — 27 volumes (1988–1999) Kitchen Sink
Marschall, Rick, America's Great Comic Strip Artists (1989) Abbeville
Fearless Fosdick (1990) Kitchen Sink ISBN 0-87816-108-2
Capp, Al, My Well-Balanced Life on a Wooden Leg (1991) John Daniel
& Co. ISBN 0-936784-93-8
Capp, Al, Fearless Fosdick: The Hole Story (1992) Kitchen Sink
Goldstein, Kalman, "
Al Capp and Walt Kelly: Pioneers of Political and
Social Satire in the Comics" from Journal of Popular Culture; Vol. 25,
Issue 4 (Spring 1992)
Al Capp Remembered (1994) Bowling Green State
University ISBN 0-87972-630-X
Theroux, Alexander, The Enigma of
Al Capp (1999) Fantagraphics Books
Lubbers, Bob, Glamour International #26: The Good Girl Art of Bob
Lubbers (May 2001)
Capp, Al, The Short Life and Happy Times of the
Shmoo (2002) Overlook
Press ISBN 1-58567-462-1
Capp, Al, Al Capp's Li'l Abner: The Frazetta Years — 4 volumes
(2003–2004) Dark Horse Comics
Al Capp Studios, Al Capp's Complete Shmoo: The Comic Books (2008) Dark
Horse ISBN 1-59307-901-X
Capp, Al, Li'l Abner: The Complete Dailies and Color Sundays Vol. 1:
1934–1936 (2010) IDW
Publishing ISBN 1-60010-611-0
Capp, Al, Li'l Abner: The Complete Dailies and Color Sundays Vol. 2:
1937–1938 (2010) IDW ISBN 1-60010-745-1
Capp, Al, Li'l Abner: The Complete Dailies and Color Sundays Vol. 3:
1939–1940 (2011) IDW ISBN 1-60010-937-3
Capp, Al, Al Capp's Complete
Shmoo Vol. 2: The Newspaper Strips (2011)
Dark Horse ISBN 1-59582-720-X
Capp, Al, Li'l Abner: The Complete Dailies and Color Sundays Vol. 4:
1941–1942 (2012) IDW ISBN 1-61377-123-1
Inge, M. Thomas, "Li'l Abner, Snuffy and Friends" from Comics and the
U.S. South, pp. 3–27 (2012) Univ. Press of Mississippi
Capp, Al, Li'l Abner: The Complete Dailies and Color Sundays Vol. 5:
1943–1944 (2012) IDW ISBN 1-61377-514-8
Kitchen, Denis, and Michael Schumacher, Al Capp: A Life to the
Contrary (2013) Bloomsbury
Publishing ISBN 1-60819-623-2
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Li'l Abner.
Li'l Abner website
Dogpatch Confidential" by Dennis Drabelle (Salon, 30 Sept. 2002)
Li'l Abner part I
Li'l Abner part II
Li'l Abner part III
Li'l Abner part IV
Li'l Abner part V
Al Capp Deserves a Tribute" (Newburyport News, 28 Sept. 2009)
NCS Spotlight on: Al Capp
Al Capp's Li'l Abner
Characters and elements
Sadie Hawkins Day
Adaptations and spin-offs
The Flintstone Comedy Show
Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo
Kickapoo Joy Juice
Shelly Manne album
Sadie Hawkins dance
The New Shmoo
Abbie an' Slats
Comic Strip Classics