Soothing Postum

May 4, 2008

Al Capp, Comic Strips

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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

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!

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