Thursday, March 05, 2020


There have been so many LI'L ABNER collections that have plopped their way into book shops over the years, and only a real tru-blu fan could keep up with all of these reprints that were either collected during the strip's height or later on in various anthologies from a variety of under-the-radar publishers like Kitchen Sink. Unfortunately none of the planned "complete" anthologies that I know of made it all the way to the strip's finale (not that you'd want to see those mid-seventies strips) but what there is that is easily enough available I am thankful for. Like this early oughts Dark Horse snatch of Sundays done up by none other than famed artist Frank Frazetta long before he made his name painting those nude muscle ladies who look as if they were molded outta some Thing Maker machine.

These two books are really that golly gosh neat and handy as well, containing all of that Al Capp craziness that made the strip such a must-read especially later on when Capp was goin' after those sainted hippie radicals that some of you reg'lar readers oh so adore! Frazetta's Abner may not be as good as Bill Elder's but it's close enough to the real deal for me, and the way he takes Capp's scripts and little intricacies and turns them into that biting satire one could only hope for is but one of the things that keeps this aging fanabla comin' back for more and more!.

And for those of you who have some sorta sentimental yearning for the fifties and what they meant to people who loved life and all of the benefits the fifties bestowed on us this sure makes for a nice look back into the days when them funny pages really meant something to ranch house kiddies like myself! Not only are they good on their mere lonesome but the fact that many of these strips were taken directly from old NEW YORK MIRROR comic sections complete with mastheads intact also gives these books a nostalgic air for people like myself who thought that the old tried and true styles of the past which seemed to get washed away by the time I entered stool were much better'n the hippie glop that eventually replaced it.

Lotsa our favorite fifties kultural faves like SUPERMAN and not so's like Liberace get the Al Capp treatment which'll make ya crack up even if you happen to love the subject matter at hand. And true, some of the political humor might be way too tied to the times for you to understand, but do a little googlin' and I'm sure you'll get some gist of what Capp was talkin' about regarding some of the long-forgotten to history  figures and experiences that were goin' on which seemed so crucial then but ended up all fizzed out as usual. Nothing new about that...after all you have to do the same thing with PEANUTS with all of those references to Davy Crockett and the Civil War centennial that pop up in worn out old paperbacks.

What's best about these Sunday pages is that Frazetta, and Capp as his most socially conscious, really can ring that inner bell of whatever's left of one's consciousness in ways very few would dare to these days. Perhaps this is true because the sentimentality that went into a whole lotta media with such a ferocity back then is now considered cornballus yet can still work its wonders, but back inna fifties such hard-driven morality plays really  could affect you like an EC "preachy" or THIS IS THE LIFE for all I can remember. Especially if you're twelve-years-old and you never saw things like that before, but still such drama could smack you upsides your head.

I'm mainly talkin' about the "Welcome (-Shudder-) Strangers" storyline from February 26th to March 11th of 1956, the one which has Mammy Yokum telling the surprisingly rabid xenophobic Dogpatchians to accept the new neighbors who are being shunned for being overtly geometric-oriented with square eyes, square buttons and everything else in their abode from plates and cups to doughnuts matching! As you would expect from such a subject matter being dealt with in those just post-World War II days, there is a bit of tenderness what with the usually strong-willed and up-front Mammy herself almost falling for the same prejudiced opinions of the rest of the townfolk yet seeing just how gosh-it-all natural the arrivals really are when they tend to their son who caught his leg in a bear trap. Thankfully everything ends up nice and dandy after Mammy makes her impassioned plea (well, it was sure better'n that  DAVY AND GOLIATH where the new mulatto in town sports a polka dot tie!), and after reading an admittedly down home and touching saga like this ya sure get the idea that Capp had his own soft 'n mooshy side when presenting a story that for once eschewed the usual biting stings for some real heart-tugging melodrama. But a good, non insulting to your own sense of fortification melodrama at that.

Of course if I were writing the strip today I'd do a little twisto-changeo to update it all. In my version the new neighbors would move in, the Dogpatchians would hate 'em and Mammy would then tell everyone to come to their senses and accept the arrivals. They do and things seem ducky at first, then the new neighbors invite more of their type over and they start playin' the radio really loud and honking their car horns and acting oh-so-superior to the people who accepted them in the first place. Of course this is all before those machete attacks begin to happen and new laws are passed to protect the immigrant population (at the detriment to the locals) to the point where even Mammy begins to question her earlier opinions. And then come the beheadings but I might be getting a li'l ahead of myself.

You just don't see caustic humor aimed at today's current sociopolitical situations anymore, but just imagine if...


Anonymous said...

lol sexist much? lol what's next? little black sambo? lol

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

There's a statue of Al Capp in Hermitage, PA, which has Al's weiner hanging out of his pants. That's the way he would have liked it.

Christopher Stigliano said...

Welcome back, and true to form I see.

Anonymous said...

(((Al Capp))

Anonymous said...

(((Al Capp))) ran around raping everyone. Even (((Wiki))) admits this much.

OY! VEY! My son, the rapist!

Anonymous said...

FUN FACT! (((Al Capp))) raped Joan Baez! And (((Bob Dylan))) watched and laughed! It was the 1960s, kids!