Li'l Abner is a satirical comic strip created by the American cartoonist Al Capp (September 28, 1909 - November 5, 1979). It originally ran between August 13, 1934 and November 13, 1977. At the height of its popularity, it appeared in nine hundred newspapers in the United States and in another one hundred newspapers in twenty-eight countries around the world. In the strip's later years, the targets of its satire moved from those on the political right to those on the left.
The strip's title character, Li'l Abner Yokum, is a hillbilly who is tall, strong and goof-hearted but very gullible. He remains perpetually innocent in a cynical world. Li'l Abner lives in the mountain village of Dogpatch, which is also home to his girlfriend (and later wife) Daisy Mae, his parents and a host of other colorful characters.
Throughout its run, the strip often featured parodies of popular novels, movies and television shows of the day, as well as send ups of other comic strips. The most famous of those spoofs is the strip-within-the-strip Fearless Fosdick, which parodies Dick Tracy.
References to Peanuts in Li'l Abner
The first strip opens in the offices of Peewee Unlimited. A framed drawing of Peewee, a fat boy with only three hairs on his head, is being toasted by the man who distributes Peewee posters, the man who publishes Peewee books, the men from the television network, Henry Junior, whose cars are advertised by Peewee characters, and his banker.
However, the happiness of the men at Peewee Unlimited is to be short lived. The staff at the syndicate which distributes the Peewee comic strip are horrified when the latest strip arrives. The character Peewee is now talking like an ordinary child instead of a psychiatrist. His dog Croopy is barking instead of talking like Joyce Brothers. The men from Peewee Unlimited immediately fly to the home of the strip's creator, "Good Old Bedly Damp", to investigate. Bedly Damp explains why the strip has changed. His psychiatrist neighbor, who used to keep talking to him about psychiatry while he was trying to draw Peewee, has moved away.
The second of the three Sunday strips begins with the men from Peewee Unlimited showing Bedly Damp the latest Peewee comic strip and one from a month earlier. The latest strip shows Peewee, speaking in one syllable words, telling his barking dog Croopy to fetch a stick. In the strip from a month earlier, Peewee is using much more advanced vocabulary, Croopy is talking, the boy is still asking his dog to fetch a stick but, at the same time, they are both engaging in a fantasy about Croopy being a World War I Flying Ace. Bedly Damp likes the newer strip much better. He is glad to be free of the influence of the psychiatrist and happy that Peewee and Croopy now sound like a real boy and dog. The men from Peewee Unlimited tell Bedly Damp that his readers do not understand real children and are afraid of real dogs. Bedly Damp says that if his readers do not like it, they can find another comic strip. Bedly Damp is told that he is the one who will have to find a new comic strip because he is fired.
In the third and final strip in the series, the men from Peewee Unlimited track down the retired psychiatrist who used to live next door to Bedly Damp. The psychiatrist says that he will be happy to write the scripts for the Peewee comic strip but he will not be able to draw it. The reason being that he draws too well. One of the men from Peewee Unlimited calls out to the passing Li'l Abner Yokum and asks him if he can draw. Li'l Abner answers that he cannot and draws a crude sketch of a boy to prove it. He is immediately hired as the Peewee comic strip's new artist.
References to Li'l Abner in Peanuts
In the strip from September 6, 1989, Peppermint Patty tells her teacher that she is going to write a book report on Little Ladies. When Marcie points out to her friend that the correct title of the novel is Little Women, Peppermint Patty responds by saying, "Little Women, Little Girls, Little Ladies, Little Bo-Peep, Li'l Abner ... Who cares?"
Notes and references
- ↑ Charles M. Schulz commented that Al Capp's decision to have Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae marry in 1952 was a great mistake which changed the entire dynamic of the strip.
- ↑ This is a reference to the Ford Motor Company which began using Peanuts characters in its advertising in 1959.
- ↑ In its heyday, a great deal of branded merchandise was associated with the Li'l Abner strip itself, although those days were over by 1968.
- ↑ Michael Dooley, "Li'l Abner's Al Capp: A Monstrous Creature, a Masterful Cartoonist", Print, March 4, 2013.