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Capp, Al

CAPP, AL

CAPP, AL (Alfred Gerald Caplin , 1909–1979), U.S. cartoonist. Born in New Haven, Conn., Capp created the comic-strip character Li'l Abner, an endlessly virile, eternally innocent, hopelessly naïve 19-year-old hillbilly, in 1934. Starting with eight newspaper subscribers, Capp built a following of tens of millions of readers for outrageously frolicsome characters who cavorted in more than 900 newspapers. Capp was hailed as the greatest humorist of his day, a peer of Mark Twain. Abner lived in Dogpatch, where poverty was endemic; it was a never-never land without indoor plumbing, and laughter was the law of the territory. Abner's parents were Mammy Yokum, a pipe-smoking matriarch, and her brow-beaten husband, Pappy Yokum. Daisy Mae was a lightly clad blonde woman forever pursuing Abner, who seemed immune to her advances until Capp bowed to reader pressure in 1952 and let them marry. As he got older, Capp changed from liberal to conservative, and his strident politics in the late 1960s and early 1970s soon lost him his audience. The strip, with fewer than 400 newspapers, was retired in 1977. His characters formed the basis of a Broadway musical, Li'l Abner, in 1956 and several books, including Life and Times of the Shmoo, a comic invention and take-off on the shmoo, in 1953.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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