Category: Al Capp
Do you recognize this wonderful layout style? It’s the 3/4 downshot, one of the most difficult angles to stage action from, done to perfection every week in a Sunday page called “Right Around Home with Myrtle”. This episode was probably drawn by Bob Vittur, but the feature was originated by a cartoonist named Dudley Fisher. Starting this post, the Cat and I will start reprinting some of the daily episodes of the strip, starting Jan. 13, 1947:
I love the character of Little Myrtle, and you’ll get to know her better through these dailies, scanned from newspaper clippings. I’m starting out just posting a few at a time, as the first few weeks of the strip in this collection skip quite a few dates. There IS a little bit of continuity, but it’s mainly the adventures of Myrtle, Freddie and Susie (her parents), Sampson (her lisping boy friend), Slug (her brother), Alice and Archie (the birds in the 1-25 above) and the funny canine characters Bingo and Junior. The Sunday pages mostly “star” the 3/4 staging in one large panel, but the dailies are more intimate, and Myrtle’s tomboy, energetic personality comes to the fore. I like the way Fisher uses Myrtle’s hat as a “bubble” around her face, you can’t tell it’s much of a hat until she turns profile, but that’s part of the abstraction in Fisher’s cartooning. Like Patrick from 1967, Myrtle is a disruptive force in her parents’ and neighborhood’s lives. UNlike Patrick, she is never mean or mean-spirited, just a lot of fun. The characters in “Right Around Home” know they are in a comic strip, and comment occasionally to the reader about that. A lot of people seem to enjoy this comic, hope you will too. The cat character in the strip is named “Hyacinth”, by the way.
Recent finds in the L.A. Jr. Times!
George Manuell 12-13-25, Ray Patin 12-20-25, Frank Tipper (?) 11-8-25 Manuel Moreno doing a parody of the 1925 hit: “Doodle Doo Doo” as a salute to the Times Junior Club, 12-27-25. It just gets better as it goes along folks! Too many interesting comics to post!
In Barker Bill this time, from 4-4 to 4-17-1955, the Cold War moves in on the story. Russian Spies Dripsky and Bugovitch want to cop Col. Whetwhistle’s Boo-Boo Tonic to disguise themselves as plants to be placed in Washington D.C. hotel lobbies. That way, they can overhear state secrets! Barker Bill and Puddy are on the job, though, and foil the spie’s plot. Puddy is made an honorary member of the K-9 Corps for his service. The supply of Barker Bill Sundays just about dries up this time, in the 4-10, Puddy is scratched up by a lot of alley cats, and in the 4-17, Puddy tries to eat a dinosaur skeleton.
In Felix, from 7-8 to 7-14-1935, the serpent vine story continues as Danny escapes and saves Felix. Felix is given credit for the discovery of the vine by the Professor, but in the 7-11, Felix could care less about his discovery, he just cares about his recovery. A sailor who is an expert wrestler tackles the vine next. In the Sunday, Felix again plays God from Dreamland heaven as he changes the life of Tommy, the little lier by giving him a fantastic nightmare. I like the panel where the God-Devil Felix lies in wait for Tommy with a Candy Box containing a vicious leopard!
Krazy from 5-19 to 5-24-1941, features the brick, both rubber and clay types. I love the gag in the 5-24 where Mrs. Kwakk-Wakk asks Krazy if he ever gets headaches from all the brick punishment that his cranium takes. Krazy responds by using a barrel to protect his body! What a mahogany head!
Speaking of cats, my cartoon cat, who now has named himself “Itza”, rebelled against me and escaped to Facebook. I don’t feel comfortable on Facebook, I don’t like to be that easily available on the ‘net, it scares me! But Itza is fearless where the Internet is concerned. He’ll still visit here from time to time, but if you want to see him all the time and maybe write to him, go to www.facebook.com/someothercat and you’ll see what the great webmeister Charles Brubaker and Itza cooked up! There are some drawings and cel set-ups from TMBSOC there as well. I really didn’t want to post any links to Facebook, but Itza threatened me with a loaded cactus.
Hi Readers, sorry for the long absence. Cathy and I have been doing some more location painting, two weeks ago we sketched and drew an alligator, many dogs and a cackle of hens and roosters at the Pasadena Humane Society. We would have drawn and painted some cats, but they had a lovely air-conditioned enclosure all to themselves and didn’t have enough space around them to house painters. The Humane Society has had the alligator for almost 10 years. She has her own generous space, complete with bamboo wall, a waterfall and her own splash pond. No wonder she’s always smiling! Two weeks ago, we visited Ports O’Call in San Pedro, near Long Beach. Cathy did a nice oil of an old boat house with a sail boat anchored nearby. I did a WC of an old kid’s merry-go-round. I concentrated on two goofy-looking pink and magenta rabbits with saddles on them. Our crit-master Walter laughed at my painting and remarked that I could do a merry-go-round anyplace, why didn’t I do a marine subject, since I was in San Pedro harbor? I replied that I suggested a cabin cruiser in the background, but I don’t think that satisfied Mr. McNall. On July 5th, Cathy was invited to be an “artist-in-residence” for an afternoon at the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. She set up her easel right near the tea room and did a study of water lillies in oil. She based it on a beautiful smaller painting she did some time ago. She also displayed several of her recent paintings, a Flamenco dancer, the wildflowers in Borrego Springs. The hotel helped her get set-up, and I put down the tarp on the floor. It was a delightful afternoon, like being in an elegant salon with live piano music in the background, and brides, grooms and wedding guests filing past (there were about three weddings going on that day). No paintings sold, but Cathy wants to go back soon and paint in the Huntington again. The Huntington loves oil paintings, many old canvases adorn its walls. We loved being there.
A few weeks ago, I got the sad news that the Cartoon Brew Films website is being discontinued. I found out when I tried to log on, I was just directed back to the Cartoon Brew website. Brew Films was certainly a noble experiment in the marketing of new animated short subjects, Bert Klein and I were among the first to be on it. It seemed to get a lot of hits initially, but then interest tapered off. I was surprised that so few cartoon makers were using the site. Here was a chance to have new cartoon shorts on view to the public for only two dollars a download, how could it miss? The answer, You Tube and its many cousins offering loads of new “animated” shorts for free! I was hoping that “It’s ‘The Cat'” would have a chance to earn back some of its negative cost on Brew Films, but it wound up paying very little. The failure of Cartoon Brew Films means that the Internet has not yet found a way to market new short films in a way that returns any significant income to the creators. It is my fervent hope that some day there WILL be a way to bypass theaters and television and create an Internet cartoon theater that will be healthy both creatively and FINANCIALLY. Brew Films just wasn’t it. Right now, “It’s ‘The Cat'” does not have a home on the ‘net. Eventually, I would like to see it embedded in the www.itsthecat.com website, bracketed with ads for our merchandise. Maybe that time will be not too far away. For the present, however, the concept of the paying customer for new short cartoons on the Internet has proven a dead end. It was fun, and an honor to have “It’s ‘The Cat'” be part of the experiment. Thanks to Jerry and Amid for trying it. Thanks to all of you viewers who paid to see my little labor of love. Anybody want to invest in my next cartoon? I want to continue to make them and I could really use the help. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comics this week include page two of Cathy Hill’s “The Legend of Mangy”. I love the panel with Mangy’s BIG EYES and running off with an entire Thanksgiving dinner in her tiny mouth. This story means a lot to Cathy and me, we loved Mangy and enjoyed having her with us. The “Corporal Crock” story in L’IL ABNER concludes this week, it originally ran from April 30th through May 3rd, 1973. Bullmoose thaws out, and the FBI confiscates all the comic books! Abner won’t be back on the Catblog for awhile, look for a new feature starting soon! MARVELOUS MIKE continues the cat food campaign storyline, from August 6th through 11th, with August 8th missing. The Post-Dispatch failed to print the strip on that date, anybody got it? Felix the Cat by Jim Tyer ends the comics this week with the last two pages of “There Auto Be A Law”, from FELIX THE CAT #4. Next week, there will be the start of a “Rock and Rollo” story by Tyer, don’t miss it friends!
Hi Evvabody! Cathy and I are back from the San Clemente Plein Air Painting Event. It was very pleasant there, both for the weather and the many beautiful subjects for painting. We spent a couple of sessions at the Casa Romantica, which was the founder of San Clemente’s home in the 1920s. His name was Ole Hanson, a Swede who loved Spanish architecture. When he founded the town he created a city ordinance that restricted the style of building to Spanish. When he went broke in 1934, the city council changed that rule, but still the best and most beautiful buildings in town are all Spanish style. We actually got to paint INSIDE the Casa Romantica! Of course we had to put down tarps and make sure we stayed on them, but the view of the harbor and pier were nonpareil and the light in the spacious living room with its sunken tile fountain and arched doorways was gentle and lustrous. We enjoyed painting the reflections in the hardwood floor. On our last day, we came back and painted the front of the Casa from the parking lot. The entrance has a unique “keyhole” shaped doorway, and a lush rose garden on either side of the front door. You must come and visit, Ole would want it that way. On July 4th, they are having a gala celebration with the best view of fireworks in San Clemente.
The prizewinners in the Plein Air Competition were all very competent, but we liked our friend Ray Harris’s “Casa Romantica Interior” as well or better than any of them. He did a charming study of a museum lover examining some artifacts in the Casa’s anteroom. Ray made up the figure of a professorial type looking over some framed documents with indirect lighting. He got an honorable mention for his painting. Many fine painters were there, including Jason and Micheal Situ, Greg La Rock, Albert Tse and many others. It was a good way to escape the “triple digit” temperatures of the L.A. basin for awhile. Motels have gentrified quite a bit in San Clemente, it used to be 40 to 60 dollars for a room just a few years ago, now it’s 70 on the weekdays and close to 100 dollars on the weekends. A lot of artists just camp in their vans in the public parking lots all week, a practical approach to the high cost of motels. I’ve posted one of Cathy’s beautiful oils of the old Beachcomber Motel, a series of Spanish style bungalows overlooking the Pacific, with the Amtrak and Metrolink trains running between the motel and the sea. It’s a dream of ours to stay there some day, but at $200.00 plus a night, only a dream.
The comics this week are “The Legend of Mangy” from Cathy’s MAD RACCOONS comic book. She thought the readers might like to see how the character got started. This is not strictly new work, but it deserves reprinting. The story closely parallels the real Mangy’s life story, when we found her wandering through Cathy’s front yard in Sierra Madre and won her over with food. General Bullmoose tries cryogenics as a tactic in snagging Pappy Yokum’s copy of “Corporal Crock” #1 in this week’s strips from 4-23 to 4-28-1973. I wonder if Al Capp was thinking of all the rumors about how Walt Disney was supposed to have frozen himself, when he wrote this story? In MARVELOUS MIKE this week from 7-30 to 8-4-1956, Honeybear the cat eats like a horse and has some fillies, uh, kittens, much to Cliff Crump’s disgust. The charm of a bunch of cute kittens is lost on him. Also in the cat department, this is the Catblog after all, we have the next two pages of “There Auto Be A Law” from Felix #4. Tyer has a ball with the cop on page two, I love the cop’s enraged tantrum poses and his total collapse against the wall when Kitty double parks. I love being able to reprint these old comics, I hope you all enjoy them.
I got some response to the original Mangy comic I published a few weeks ago, this first is from my friend Milt Gray, who proposed I publish some new comics in the first place:
Congratulations to Cathy for her whimsical and stylish and observational comic strip, Mangy. I didn’t realize that you had already posted it, as I am often so focused on drawing my own cartoons that I sometimes procrastinate in surfing the Internet. I’m sorry that you haven’t gotten any comments yet, although people usually write only when they want to disagree about something. For the record, I wouldn’t describe myself as someone who is tired of the old classic comic strips — I love those strips, and I’m glad that you are making some of them accessible again. But I admit that I do advocate to my cartoonist friends that they should post their own work more, especially work that has never been publicly seen before. Hopefully that will attract an audience and we can begin to make at least modest livings (or better) from what we love. We should be promoting new talent — ourselves — at least as much as other people’s work from the past.
Best regards, Milt
Here are some words from Bill Warren on Cathy’s comic and other things:
Cathy drew a cartoon for me of our black cat Isadora (who tends to look a lot like Cathy’s drawings of Mangy) sort of haunted by images from 1950s science fiction movies. That led me to ask Cathy to do the covers for the initial two volumes of my huge survey of those movies, KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. This was published in 1982 (vol 1) and 1984 (vol II), and were the first books from that company to have cover illustrations. I insisted on it, however, and included a frontispiece in one volume similar to the covers. Vol I covered 1950-1955; the front showed a little boy from behind watching a movie screen (or maybe the clouds of his imagination) illustrated with iconic images from that part of the 50s SF movies. Vol II covered 1950-1962 (they didn’t stop making 1950s-type SF movies when the calendar changed), so the boy (now taller) is seen watching images from that chronological period. Only time I’ve seen an illustration including a high of the Id Monster from FORBIDDEN PLANET and a goofy low of The Brain from Planet Arous. The first volume also had a similar frontispiece by Cathy, only the boy is seen from the front–and it’s me.
I am just finishing a rewrite of the entire thing; it’s now about a quarter of a million words in length. And that’s before I do the index. Someone else is doing the covers–the publisher wants color this time–but I’ll be including all of Cathy’s illustrations as interiors. Along with some great semi-caricatures by Frank Dietz and a whole lot of photos.
That Mangy and the Worm story reminded me of all this–no, this wasn’t just a blatant plug for myself–and that not long ago, someone discovered a black-and-white octopus in the waters just north of Australia that actually is an animal mimic. There were photos of it looking like an upright fish, like a flatfish (a skate or flounder or something) and other sea critters too. The world is full of wonders yet to be discovered.
Here’s another comment by Bill about Al Capp’s comics:
I still find 1950s Al Capp to be very funny, but the comic strip from that period that can still make me laugh about as much as I did when I first saw it is POGO.
Of course, looking at it another way, PRISCILLA’S POP can still make me laugh about as much as it did originally–which was not at all.
Uh, oh! Now Al Vermeer’s fans are going to scream! Priscilla originally ran in newspapers from 1947 to 1983 outlasting Vermeer by a few months. The crictic Maurice Horn called “Prisilla’s Pop”, “impossibly sophomoric” and “trite”. Maybe I should reprint some of it!
My friend Larry Loc also wrote in: I did comment on Cathy’s page, (which I loved – more please) I just didn`t do so to you. I made my comment in the form of a blog posting telling people they really need to get over to you page and check out the cool stuff. I am very excited about your new animation. When can I see the pencil test work print? Here are my comments: http://www.agni-animation.com/blog/2008/06/mark-and-cathy-show.html Thanks Larry, to date, still no complete pencil test. I think we have one scene (#22) that is still unaccounted for. Maybe in a couple of weeks?
Remember, comments can be sent to email@example.com.
A little lesson in comparative panelology this week, dear readers. Cole Johnson, cartoonist and cartoon scholar has sent some interesting “Phoanie” strips, which we may compare with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch versions I have posted in weeks past. For the episode of 2/1/67, the color version is from the St. Louis paper, and the b/w is from the Washington Post. Note how the Washington Post chose to re-letter and re-center the dialog balloons in the first panel, and permitted the first line to remain. Cole sent the missing episode from 2/3/67, in two different versions, the first from the Los Angeles Times, the second from the Washington Post. The Times edited Joanie’s second panel speech quite a bit, and the Post let the two words “I’m paying..” seep back into the border-less balloon. Perhaps Joanie was saying:”I’m paying them $2.00 an hour..” or something to make her look like an exploiter of the poor. The episode of 2/9/67 which the Post-Dispatch edited with a ham-fist: “..14 songs of scorn…a hymn of hate…”, has been re-arranged by the Washington Post to read: “14 songs of scorn, and a hymn of hate!” I think the Post-Dispatch’s edits are a bit more honest, at least it’s obvious something’s been taken out. In the 2/11/67 strip, the Post-Dispatch let the ghost of a dialog balloon hover above Joanie’s head; meanwhile, the Washington Post took the offending dialog out, balloon and all! It seems that the liberal press was moved by the “Joanie” continuity to alter Capp’s dialog on a market by market basis. Maybe someday we’ll see these strips re-printed from the syndicate proofs. By the way, just look at that beautifully hand-decorated envelope in which Cole sent me the strips. The Spanish couple he drew remind me of an old George Herriman Philadelphia Sunday Press page from Dec. 8th, 1901 called: “A Yankee Romance in Old Madrid”: the first panel.
This week we also have the L’il Abner strips from 4/1/73 to 4/7/73. Capp satirizes fanatical comic book collectors in this story by introducing General Bullmoose’s ideel, Corporal Crock, an embryonic Neocon of the “Great War” period. What Crock does to those “tax the rich” liberals and the “votes for women” crowd makes him dear to the crusty old capitalist’s heart. MARVELOUS MIKE for 7/9/57 to 7/14/57 starts to heat up as Mike’s “real” parents show up to claim him! Mike is very cool under fire and refuses to get upset. Cole Johnson did some research and found that the Washington Post also started to run MARVELOUS MIKE from the beginning, but dropped the strip before May, so the Washington Post won’t be a good source of missing episodes. I’m proud of my home town paper, once they picked up a strip, they stuck with it!
From Felix #4, we have the next two pages from “A Sample Assignment” drawn and written (?) by that master of sweat drops, Jim Tyer. Look at Felix falling down the chute on page two, Tyer stages the fall as an x-ray cross section of the chute. He used the same x-ray staging in the Tom Terrific cartoon: “The Pill of Smartness” as Tom makes himself smaller and smaller to squeeze himself through the tubes in Queen Cleofatra’s tomb. Enjoy all the comics this week, and thanks to readers like Cole Johnson for contributing to my blog and the “science” of panelology!
Happy Decoration Day readers! This week, as promised, are the first two chapters of the L’IL ABNER story, “Corporal Crock” which started March 30, 1973. I have scanned the first two strips from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch full page comic section, so I couldn’t close the lid all the way down on top of it, and the scan is a bit light because of that. Next week, we’ll find out more about General Bullmoose’s “ideel”, Corporal Crock.
I have received a few more comments on the “Joanie Phoanie” strips that ran over the past several weeks. Here’s one from Mike Fontanelli, cartoonist and Al Capp Collector:
Thanks again for printing the Joanie Phoanie strips. I never knew what all the fuss was about, and now that I’ve finally seen them – I still don’t know what all the fuss was about!
It seems to me the most offensive aspect was the fact that some of the dialog – and at least one whole daily strip – was censored! As a free speech advocate, that’s a lot more troubling than anything actually in the strips.It’s my professional opinion that Capp’s vivid portrayal of student protesters and “hippies” were really no more of a caricature than the hillbillies that regularly populated Dogpatch, anyway. (I also think it’s ironic that Capp called them “wildly indignant” – and they’ve been reacting with wild indignation ever since!)
Speaking of censored strips, Mike, here are some enlightening words from eminent cartoon authority, Cole Johnson:
The missing dialogue in the 2-1-67 strip, as it appeared in the Washington Post : Joannie’s assistant says: “Why not keep the kid, Joannie baby? You’re supposed to love little people!” Joannie’s word balloon, much larger in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is shrunk down around “Oh, well, I’ll send him to school!!” in the WP. The missing 2-3-67 episode has fly-encircled Joannie with Honest Abe in her mansion, declaring what a wonderful, warm-hearted mother she’ll be to…what’s your name again, kid? Then she tells Abe how you can tell the servants to do anything you want, and a delighted Abe joyously jumps in the air at the prospect.In addition, the 2-9-67 strip ran in the Washington Post with the same “remaining” words as in the chiseled-up first balloon, only this time, they have been rearranged into a smaller and tighter balloon you’d never imagine to have been tampered with. The 2-11-67 strip also had no balloon at all from Joannie Phoanie. Since the WP ran their strips in the conventional B/W, there is nothing to imagine there would be a comment by her, but the Post-Dispatch had a color background which clearly shows the “ghost” of a balloon. I’ll try to get some copies of these for you! The Washington Post could certainly match the Post-Dispatch for left-wing aspects, and raise it. I wonder if this delightful sequence ran differently in a conservative paper, like the fondly remembered Philadelphia Bulletin?
(Mark here) It seems the Washington Post and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch were sister papers in their attitude towards editing (censoring) L’IL ABNER. They even re-lettered and re-arranged the balloons to suit their individual editors’s tastes. Cole may send the missing strip, 2-3-67, along soon. When he does, I will post it here. Maybe Cole has some of the missing MARVELOUS MIKE strips as well; MIKE also ran in the Washington Post.Also this week, MARVELOUS MIKE winds up the “Baby Baker” storyline (from 7/2/56 to 7/7/56 with July 4th missing) and starts the Crumps off on a cruise with the money they’ve won. The Jim Tyer Felix Dell pages this week are from “A Sample Assignment” continuing Felix’s search for Kitty’s fabric sample at the department store. All the comics I reprint here generally fall into the “humouous (or ‘hoomerous’) continuity” type of strip. They are not necessarily telling a joke every day, but amuse because they LOOK funny. They tell a story that may actually be serious underneath the clown make-up. MARVELOUS MIKE is certainly an example of that “sad clown” syndrome, sometimes Mike is very emotionally moved at his adopted parents’s problems. He is very serious and efficient at almost everything he does, the humor mostly comes from Cliff Crump’s Dagwood-like clumsiness. Cathy and I painted a flower garden in Sierra Madre, CA. last week with our painting group and ran into our friend William Wray on the main street, Sierra Madre Blvd. Bill is an imaginative plein air oil painter and lives in Sierra Madre, his comment to us: “What are you guys doing in my town?” Go to his website www.williamwray.com and look at his book “Dirty Beauty”, it’s full of Bill’s contemporary “ashcan school” oil paintings of the Los Angeles urban landscape. Thanks for all the great comments on the “Joanie” stories, see you next time with more Bullmoose, Mike and Felix.
Hello again, here are the final episodes of the “Joanie Phoanie” storyline in L’il Abner. This week’s episodes are from 2/6/67 to the following Monday, 2/13/67. Honest Abe really deserves his spanking this time! You will note that the Post-Dispatch censored the dialog on 2/9, and Joanie’s dialog balloon on 2/11 is completely blank! A few of Joan’s contemporaries sneak into the strip, Bob Dylan on 2/8, Abbie Hoffman on 2/11 and could the man with the dark beard in the first panel of 2/13 be Allen Ginsberg? Next week I will start reprinting an Abner story from 1973.
Also this week we have Marvelous Mike from 6/25/57 to 6/30. Cliff Crump as usual don’t get no respect! Mike bakes great biscuits and all Mr. Kimball does is yell at Cliff about them. I would call this story “The Baby Baker”. The next two pages of “A Sample Assignment” from Felix #4 by Jim Tyer brings up the post-ier. Note Tyer’s patented sweat drops on pg. 2, in the close-up of nervous Felix. It’s hotter n’ blazes in Glendale this weekend, I’m staying inside and blogging. Remember if you have any comments write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will assume that your letters are for publication unless you tell me the remarks are private. Bill Warren was a little upset over Mike Fontanelli’s comments on his comments. He thought that Mike got a little too personal. I erred in reprinting Bill’s letter verbatim, he thought his remarks were private. My apologies to Mr. Warren. See you next time.
Hi Folks, here are the next episodes of Joanie Phoanie, 1/30 67-2/4/67, with 2/3 missing. Either my Dad didn’t bring home the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that night, or the Post dropped Abner that day. Of the two newspapers in St. Louis, The Globe-Democrat and the Post-Dispatch, the Post was the most liberal. When Capp started satirizing the Left, the Post responded by censoring L’il Abner on some days, and dropping the strip for a day or sometimes weeks, if they didn’t like a particular story line. Look at the strip for 2/1 above, in which Joanie and her manager discuss Honest Abe, there is missing dialog in the balloons. Wait until you see what the Post did to some of the strips I will run next week!
We have a comment from Thad Komorowski, cartoon scholar and web master:
I’ve loved seeing the Joanie Phoanie Abner strips on your blog! It’s not a very good continuity though. The problems are that it’s just not funny (like the strip once was on a regular basis) and Capp draws a good-looking woman (Baez) as a hideous crone. You just know Capp was getting unhealthily bitter if he passes up the opportunity to draw a hot woman.
I pointed out earlier that Capp’s caricature of Joan Baez looked a lot like Nightmare Alice! He didn’t want to make Joanie an attractive woman, because Capp usually made the outsides of his characters reflect their insides. He had a low opinion of Joanie’s character, therefore he couldn’t make her look “hot”. Of course I loved Daisy Mae as a kid, but for some reason I thought Moonbeam McSwine was the most alluring woman in Dogpatch, even though she never bathes! I think I liked her clothes with all the missing parts and popped stitches, very stimulating to the imagination! My friend Larry Loc sent some interesting Capp anecdotes from cartoonist Tex Blaisdell to me from over at his blog: www.agni-animation.com/blog/ . Go over there and read them, and tell him I sent you!
Also this week we have MARVELOUS MIKE from 6/18 to 6/23/1956, in which he shows his prowess as a biscuit baker, and Jim Tyer’s Felix the Cat in “A Sample Assignment”, the first two pages of the story from Felix #4. I love those scrappy housewives in the last panel on the second page!
Believe it or not, my next short cartoon, “There Must Be Some Other Cat” is making progress! Greg Ford, Igor, Kim Miskoe and all the artists are doing some beautiful work. I have seen quite a few sample cels and I made a small animation correction to Sc. 24. I hope I will have a complete pencil test by the end of this month! I will keep you POST-ed! My wife and I are going to take a trip to Catalina Island next month to paint with our Thursday group once again, we are really looking forward to painting the old Casino, boats, gulls and tourists stuffing their faces! Remember, send any comments to my email address: email@example.com. See you next week.
Howdy everyone! The Abner Phoanies continue with episodes from 1-23-67 to 1-28-67. Joanie is so lazy she lets Daisy Mae run for her in the Sadie Hawkins day race! In the interests of continued debate, here is Mike Fontanelli’s (Cartoonist, Al Capp Collector) rebuttal to Bill Warren’s (Film Critic, Author) screed about Al Capp’s politics and zeitgeist:
You recently posted a response to the Capp material from someone named Bill Warren, “Internet Film Reviewer” – who “reviews” the Joanie Phoanie continuity – even though it had barely begun – with words like “contempt-laden”, “repellent”, “smug”, and (very classy for a film critic) “crap”. (I wonder what Mr Warren’s reaction would be to National Lampoon’s notorious parody of Joan Baez: “Pull The Trigger, N—–“, from RADIO DINNER.)
With breathtaking insight, Mr Warren points out that Abner is only “stupid because he’s a hillbilly”, and General Bullmoose, although a financial tyrant, is “not stupid”. (Are we asked to believe that Capp intended Bullmoose as a positive portrayal? Then I can’t for the life of me figure out – why is Bullmoose always the villain?) There was always an “elitism” in LI’L ABNER, according to this genius, and he points out that comic strip parodies are really due to the cartoonist being “envious”. Chester Gould evidently was “jealous” of PEANUTS when he did SAWDUST, Mr Warren helpfully suggests. By Mr Warren’s reasoning, Walt Kelly was jealous of Harold Gray when he did LULU ARFIN’ NANNY, and Harvey Kurtzman was apparently jealous of SUPERMAN, ARCHIE, and – just about everything else!
“I don’t recall seeing any traces of that kind of stuff in Schulz’s work,” sniffs Bill Warren, who doesn’t understand satire or parody nearly as well as he understands science fiction. May we infer that Snoopy’s infatuation with “The Six Bunny-Wunnies” series of kiddie books was due to Schulz’s jealousy of Margaret Wise Brown? Or do different rules apply when Mr Warren is speaking of a comic strip that he actually understands?The real “elitism” at play is in Mr Warren’s camp. Unlike Gary Trudeau, Capp slammed the left AND the right – but only the left responded with thin-skinned, humorless moral outrage and offended indignation.
Lighten up, Bill – it’s only a comic strip!
That’s Mike’s reaction, maybe Bill will respond, but I don’t think he will. It’s MY opinion that the Joanie Phoanie sequence is about as far right as Capp got in the strip. I’ve been reading a lot of the 1970s Abners lately, and the political part of the strip is very subtle, Capp usually saves his harshest barbs for “welfare cheaters” and “lazy” people. The citizens of Dogpatch may be dumb, but they never shirk hard work when absolutely necessary. I think Al had more affection for the town of Dogpatch and it’s “culture”, than it’s individual citizens, like Abner, Daisy Mae, Earthquake McGoon. Mammy is the only really admirable character in Dogpatch, and she stayed that way until the end of the strip. Speaking of General Bullmoose, as Mike just did, I am hoping to reprint a very funny Abner story from 1973 with the General as a comic book collector! Remember if you have any comments, just send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also this week we have MARVELOUS MIKE from 6-11-56 to 6-16-56, Mike gets his father off the hook for the bank robbery, and tries to help Mom with her biscuits.
To round off the menu, we have Jim Tyer’s Felix in “Tale of A Fish”, the next two pages. Until next week, try a relaxing cup of Instant Postum, relax and don’t post so much!
Hi readers! I know that I have more than one reader since I started posting the “Joanie Phoanie” sequence from L’IL ABNER. This week we have Jan. 16-Jan. 21 1967–Joanie runs in the Sadie Hawkin’s Day race. Mike Fontanelli, Cartoonist, Humorist and Al Capp collector, sent me a few quotations from Joan Baez’s biography about her reactions to Al’s unflattering caricature of her: (Joan Baez speaking)
“…I quit reading what the papers said about me because either they portrayed me as more self-sacrificing than I was, or they didn’t like me and said, in a variety of ways, that I was a fake. Al Capp, creator of the LI’L ABNER comic strip, launched the most imaginative of the negative attacks, introducing a character into his strip called Joanie Phoanie. She was a slovenly, two-faced show-biz slut, a thinly disguised Commie, who traveled around in a limousine singing “songs of protest against poverty and hunger for $10,000.00 a concert.” She put out albums like “If It Sounds Phoanie, It’s Joanie”, which included “Lay Those Weapons Down, McNamara,” “Throw Another Draft Card on the Fire!” and “Let’s Conga with the Viet Cong.” Looking back at both the strip and the situation, I have to laugh. At the time, I couldn’t. Mr. Capp was slandering my name, my causes, my music, and of course, my persona. I got huffy, and huff turned to rage. I never sued Al Capp. I asked for a retraction but did not get one. Al Capp publicly denied to all who asked that Joan Baez was Joanie Phoanie. Many years later, I would read: “The truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you could invent,” but at the time my righteous indignation came from feeling guilty about having money, even if I was giving most of it away. In my heart of hearts, I thought I should not have anything. And that’s where he stung me. Was Al Capp right? The puritan in me said that unless I learned to live free of possessions, like Gandhi, I was less than perfect. Gandhi’s aim was to be detached from all desire. I tried to be detached, but did not succeed. I was attached to my house, my boyfriends, my ever-changing wardrobe, and my demons. Mr. Capp confused me considerably. I’m sorry he’s not alive to read this. It would make him chuckle.”
“And A Voice To Sing With” – 1989
Here’s how TIME reported the dust-up between Capp and Baez:
WHICH ONE IS THE PHOANIE?
Joanie Phoanie is a sight. She has a roller coaster of a nose, unraveled hair, and sandal straps that look as if they’re devouring her legs. She douses herself with deodorant, wolfs down caviar in front of famished children. She sings of brotherhood to incite student riots. When one song triggers only three uprisings, she composes another she is sure will be a blockbuster: “A Molotov cocktail or two/ Will blow up the boys in blue.” Could it be Joan Baez? Joan Baez thinks so. In fact, she’s so sure Al Capp’s cartoon character is a take-off on her that she has demanded an apology and the immediate execution of the comic strip abomination. “Either out of ignorance or malice,” she wailed, “he has made being for peace equal to being for Communism, the Viet Cong and narcotics.” Just as captiously, the cartoonist growled that Joanie wasn’t Joan. “She should remember that protest singers don’t own protest. When she protests about others’ rights to protest, she is killing the whole racket.” She also protested all the talk in the strip about the amount of money a folk singer earns. “Capp must be jealous,” she sniffed. He may have reason. Now on a tour of Japan, Protester Joan is making $8,500 per appearance.
– TIME Magazine Jan. 20, 1967
In point of fact, Joan Baez DID attempt to sue Capp but was unsuccessful – as several different sources confirm, including Denis Kitchen: “The Joanie Phoanie character as written by Capp, sang protest songs and incited riots for huge profits. Joan Baez demanded a public apology which never came. In fact, Capp never acknowledged that the Joanie Phoanie character was a reference to Baez at all. Baez was so convinced the reference was about her that she filed a court case. The judge ruled that free speech works both ways and refused to tell Al Capp to stop.”
Here’s Mike Fontanelli on L’IL ABNER and how the strip influenced his work as a cartoonist:
I admit I am an unabashed fan, so maybe I’m not so impartial a judge. The guy’s ideas just kill me, especially the classic forties and fifties stuff. I remember reading him in the sixties and seventies (I was born in ‘61, so the strip was well past its prime by the time I’d gotten to it) and laughing until tears rolled down my cheeks. Decline or not, it was still the funniest, ballzy-est strip on the comics page. He and Walt Kelly were my heroes – they still are, actually. (I’m a cartoonist because of POGO and ABNER, basically – I’d probably be working in a bookstore if it weren’t for that stuff. And MAD, and Looney Tunes.)
Thank you for reproducing the famous (some would say infamous) Joanie Phoanie strips, which I’ve always heard about but never had the opportunity to read before. (I’ve gotta laugh at “Molotov Cocktails For Two” and “Let’s Conga With The Viet Cong”! Sure it’s mean – and over the top, I guess. But it’s also, after all, just Capp being Capp.)
I’m sorry that ASIFA is stuck with scanning ABNER continuities that are already available elsewhere, but we don’t currently have the resources or the access to anything better. (Coming up, however, is a hilarious continuity called CHICKENSOUPERMAN!, a spoof of TV superheroes and their sponsors that, as far as I know, has never been republished since it originally ran in 1966.)
Our real intent was to introduce Capp to a new generation, one that’s grown up with the likes of FOXTROT and DRABBLE, and so has no idea that newspaper comics were once intelligent, dynamic, beautifully drawn and well worth reading. (After Capp, we hope to do comprehensive tributes to Willard Mullin and Walt Kelly.)
It’s very gratifying to receive letters from teenagers and twenty-somethings who were bowled over by the Loverboynik strips. (Wait’ll they see Fearless Fosdick, I keep telling them…)
The Capp retrospective will stretch out to around a dozen posts, because the material is so great, and because, frankly, his reputation could use some rescuing.
(I’d like to Google search Al Capp someday and find references to his work for a change, instead of his cantankerous cameo in IMAGINE and his sexcapades with coeds. I’d also like to see Denis Kitchen resume his pet project one day: the republication of the complete LI’L ABNER.)
After all, we can’t let the kids go on believing that CATHY and SALLY FORTH are all there is, can we?
(Mark here:) Make sure that all you Al Capp fans check out ASIFA’s Animation History website at www.animationarchive.org for more classic Capp strips. Here is another person’s reation to the “Joanie Phoanie” reprints, Bill Warren, Internet Film Reviewer and author of the book, “Keep Watching The Skies!”: “Al Capp, like Charlton Heston, was one of those implacable guys who planted a flag right HERE and defended that position as the best possible place to be–while unaware they’re sliding steadily to the right. That Joanie Phoanie stuff is really repellent; not only does it falsify the hell out of Baez, but it’s mean, contempt-laded writing. Capp was always very smug as a writer, but he had flexibility early on. He utterly ossified by the time of the Joanie Phoanie crap. Al Capp jumps the shark, big time. Did you ever see that video of him smirking at John Lennon and Yoko Ono when they were doing their protest from a bed? (Recently posted on Cartoon Brew-MK) Capp obviously thinks he’s winning everything, but he’s just a mean old bastard who doesn’t know he sounds like a preening bully. I always liked Li’l Abner, but I also was wary of it. Even though Abner is always a decent guy, he’s also always a stupid guy, and stupid because he’s a hillbilly. General Bullmoose is a financial tyrant, but he’s not stupid. There was a certain elitism in the strip, all the time. Interesting that he became so envious of Charles Schulz, since in the past, Ham Fisher had become so envious of Capp. I was puzzled that Chester Gould also evidently became jealous of Schulz, with his “Sawdust” strip-within-the-strip. I don’t recall seeing any traces of that kind of stuff in Schulz’s work.(Mark again:)
Please excuse all the type face size variance, I don’t know how to make all the fonts uniform. I’m very happy that the Joanie strips attracted such good comments! Thank you, Mike and Bill for taking the time to make this post one of my better ones. I think it’s a good contrast between the opinions of a cartoonist who appreciates Capp for his art, and a film reviewer and scholar who sees Capp predominately as a satirist who fell apart by the late 1960s. Remember, you may comment on anything you see here by writing to email@example.com.
The other strips this week are MARVELOUS MIKE from 6-2-56 to 6-9-56, sorry that 6-7 is among the missing. Little Mike is going to make his adopted father look like a hero very soon. I also have the first two pages of the Felix story, “Tale of a Fish” from Felix the Cat #4, by the madcap cartoonist, Jim Tyer. I know he drew these stories, but I’m not sure about the writing. Maybe Gaylord Dubois was doing the scripting, does anyone know?
Hello again dear reader(s)! Here are the next six strips in the “Joanie Phoanie” sequence from “L’il Abner”, Jan. 9-1967 to Jan. 14th. Here Capp implies that Joan Baez is not only a protest singer who cares only for money, but she throws herself at any appetizing man who crosses her path, in this case, Abner. I like the sly way that Al uses Little Orphan Annie as a supporting player in some of these dailies. I’ve been reading a bunch of “L’il Abner”s I saved from the early 1970s, and a lot of the Sunday pages feature the Dogpatch kids: Honest Abe, “Rotton Ralphie” and the bunch. Capp was openly jealous of Charles Schulz’s success, and it seems he toyed with the idea of turning “L’il Abner” into a kid strip for awhile, Dogpatch style. If you go over to ASIFA’s animation history website at www.animationarchive.org , they are doing their own tribute to Al Capp this week. Very nice scans of earlier Abner material from the collection of Mike Fontanelli, but Dennis Kitchen has already reprinted the strips from 1956 that they are running. As far as I know, these “Joanie Phoanie” strips have NEVER been reprinted, so let me know what you think.
“Marvelous Mike” this week continues the bank robbery story. I think some aspects of this story ring true to this day, when sometimes to be ACCUSED of a crime is the same thing as being a CRIMINAL. We’ll see how poor Cliff gets out of the line-up next week.
To round out the reprints this week, we have the last two pages of Jim Tyer’s “The Vicious Cycle” from FELIX THE CAT #4. We will present the start of the next story from that issue, “Tale Of A Fish”, in a week. Remember, to comment on anything you see here, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will reprint any comments that my readers would enjoy seeing.
Somebody’s relentlessly hacking me, so I better post this quickly before I get shut down again. Here are the first 5 episodes of the infamous “Joanie Phoanie” storyline of Al Capp’s “L’il Abner” from 12-31-67 to 1-7-67. There may be a day or two missing, these are clipped from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch which printed some of their daily strips in color back then. I will point out some editing that the Post did to these strips as I re-print them. The recent Al Capp videos posted on Cartoon Brew led me to re-print this sequence, since it seems it is the exact point where Al Capp parted company with the political liberals who had read “L’il Abner” up to 1967. His caricature of Joan Baez makes her look like Nightmare Alice! Baez was a very beautiful woman who had a lovely voice. Capp saw her as an adjunct to student unrest, however, and he couldn’t forgive her for that in his mind. The artwork and inking in these strips are very well done, Joanie’s appearance comes right in the middle of a storyline that prys Honest Abe from his parents and puts him up for adoption. The sequence ran barely two months.
“Marvelous Mike” this week reprints 5-21-56-5-26. 5-25-56 is out of sequence, I can’t figure out how to get it in the correct spot. The Goliath story winds up (you can see him a little better in these scans), and the next story begins. Mike overhears a bank robbery plot.
Felix has the next two pages of the current storyline by Jim Tyer, “The Vicious Cycle” from Felix the Cat #4. I had better save this before I get shut down again, somebody sure doesn’t like this blog. If you have any comments, mail them to me at email@example.com. See you again, I hope.