Thursday, February 07, 2013


Considering that I'm not quite as much of a LI'L ABNER fan as I am of DICK TRACY, NANCY and ARCHIE it ain't like I'm gonna be gobblin' up all of the comic strip reprint anthologies of Al Capp's creation that'll be comin' down the pike these next few decades. However, I just hadda dish out the kopecks for this particular volume (#5 if you're keeping count) if only because of cover star FEARLESS FOSDICK, a character whom I gotta say is even more of a faverave of mine than ABNER even to the point where if he were the star and ABNER the "strip within a strip" I'd be tossin' out the spare change a whole lot more frequently, ifyaknowaddamean...

These extremely early FOSDICK appearances really are an eye-opener even for this comic strip fanabla who's been around the "classic strip" block for a much longer time'n you could imagine. After years of seeing this DICK TRACY burlesque drawn in Capp's typically exaggerated style with Fosdick sporting not only an extremely protruding jaw and bowler hat, it's interesting to see just how much the original Chester Gould style was mimicked in these early strips right down to the thin pen artwork, the dark shading and even Gould's very own signature via FOSDICK creator Lester Gooch. FOSDICK had yet to take on a life of its own with weeks of high-larious continuity, but these early antics sure do figure heavily into Abner's own travails such as in the case where it turns out that Fosdick's arch enemy Stoneface is "for real" and Gooch is forced into having the fictional version bump off Fosdick, or when yet another character, this time Rattop, tortures Fosdick by draining ten gallons of blood (!) outta Li'l Abner's "ideel" all to no avail! For a FOSDICK fanatic like myself these brief appearances ain't nearly enough, but they at least help eke out the chortles especially in these humorless times when the snide and snarky humor to be found therein has been replaced by some of the unfunniest, most tasteless and "redeeming" (to perverts, social planners and asst. jizbags) utterances to have graced our planet since the days of John Milton and his irksome ilk!

Of course the reg'lar ABNER sagas are up-to-snuff too, with tons of that sarcastic Capp humor dealing with everything from zoot suits and Sadie Hawkins Day to Abner being reduced to having to get a job in the "skonk works," and between the snat writing and the detailed art (which reminds me of those late-18th century political cartoons by the likes of Keppler and Opper that more or less helped pave the way for the Amerigan comic idiom) you can bet this book's one that you'll be starin' in awe at for many an evening just wond'rin' where all of the talent and inspiration that made the Golden Age of Comic Strips so funzies went. And not only that, but there's a neat-o preface where not only are a slew of rare Capp snaps reproduced, but we get to read a nice number of FEARLESS FOSDICK Wildroot Cream Oil print ads as well as Abner hawking none other than Cream Of Wheat!

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