Capp, Al

Very good content TLS from the creator of “L’il Abner” to his co-creator of “Abbie ‘n Slats”, Raeburn Van Buren

Price: $225.00

Description:
(Alfred G. Caplin, 1909-1979) Jewish-American cartoonist and humorist best known for Li'l Abner. He also wrote Abbie an' Slats and Long Sam. He received the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Award in 1947 for Cartoonist of the Year, and their 1979 Elzie Segar Award (posthumous). In 1934, Capp introduced L'il Abner, first strip based in the South. Although from Connecticut, he spent 43 years teaching the world about Dogpatch, reaching 70 million readers (US population then was 180 million), in over 900 US & 100 foreign papers in 28 countries. In 1919, at 9, Capp lost his left leg in a trolley accident. His satire was, to a degree, a creatively channeled, compensatory response to his disability. His father introduced him to drawing as a form of therapy, his formal training came from art schools in New England. In early 1932, Capp went to New York and did advertising strips at $2 apiece while hunting for jobs. He found work at the Associated Press at 23. By March 1932, Capp was drawing a single-panel, AP-owned property created in 1930 by Dick Dorgan. He left the AP in Sept. 1932 and moved to Boston. He returned to New York in 1933, in the midst of the Depression and met Ham Fisher, who hired him to ghost on Joe Palooka. During one of Fisher's extended vacations, Capp's Joe Palooka story arc introduced a stupid, coarse, oafish mountaineer named "Big Leviticus," a crude prototype of the future L’il Abner. In this time, Capp was working on samples for the strip that would eventually become Li'l Abner, his characters based on mountain folk he met while hitchhiking through rural West Virginia and the Cumberland Valley as a teenager. Leaving Joe Palooka, Capp sold Li'l Abner to United Feature Syndicate. L’il Abner was launched Aug. 13, 1934 in 8 No. American newspapers, inc. The New York Mirror, and was an immediate success. Alfred G. Caplin became "Al Capp" because the syndicate felt the original would not fit in a cartoon frame; he had it changed legally in 1949. His younger brother Elliot Caplin also a comic strip creator, co-created The Heart of Juliet Jones, and conceived Broom-Hilda with Russell Myers. What began as a hillbilly burlesque soon evolved into one of the most imaginative, popular and well-drawn strips of the 20th century with outlandish characters, bizarre situations, suspense, slapstick, irony, satire, black humor and biting social commentary. Li'l Abner is considered a classic of the genre. Li'l Abner Yokum, the simple-minded, good-natured, and eternally innocent hayseed lives with his parents, scrawny but superhuman Mammy Yokum, and shiftless, childlike Pappy Yokum in the backwater hamlet of Dogpatch, Kentucky, consisting of ramshackle log cabins, pine trees, "tarnip" fields and "hawg" wallows. He constantly evaded the marital goals of Daisy Mae Scragg, his sexy, well-endowed (but virtuous) girlfriend. Capp gave in to reader pressure and allowed them to marry, which made the March 31, 1952 cover of Life. Capp peopled his strip with memorable characters, inc. Marryin' Sam, Lonesome Polecat, Evil-Eye Fleegle, General Bullmoose, Earthquake McGoon, Moonbeam McSwine, and a host of others. Many became painted noses of WW II & Korean War bombers. Perhaps his most popular creations were the Shmoos, creatures with incredible usefulness and a generous nature; he reaped enormous financial rewards from the merchandising phenomenon that followed. Another famous character was Joe Btfsplk, "the world's worst jinx," bringing bad luck to all those nearby and who always has an iconic dark cloud over his head. Many communities, high schools and colleges staged Sadie Hawkins dances, patterned after the similar annual event in the strip. Li'l Abner also featured a comic strip-within-the-strip: Fearless Fosdick, a parody of Dick Tracy. It first appeared in 1942, and proved so popular that it ran intermittently over the next 35 years. In addition to creating Li'l Abner, Capp also co-created 2 other newspaper strips: Abbie an' Slats with magazine illustrator Raeburn van Buren in 1937, and Long Sam with cartoonist Bob Lubbers in 1954. Over the years, Li'l Abner has been adapted to radio, animated cartoons, and TV. A successful musical comedy adaptation opened on Broadway in 1956 and ran 693 performances, followed by a nationwide tour. The stage musical was adapted into a Paramount Technicolor film in 1959. During WW II and afterward, he worked tirelessly going to hospitals to entertain patients, especially to cheer recent amputees. Capp was also involved with polio patients through the Sister Kenny Foundation. Honorary Chairman Capp made public appearances, contributed free artwork for fund-raising appeals, and entertained in children's hospitals. He prominently urging the National Cartoonists Society to admit women and briefly resigned membership in 1949 to protest the refusal to admit Hilda Terry, creator of the comic strip Teena. The NCS finally accepted female members in 1950. Capp insisted on drawing and inking characters' faces and hands, especially of Abner and Daisy Mae, and his distinctive touch is often discernible. He originated stories, wrote dialogue, designed major characters, rough penciled preliminary staging and action of each panel, and oversaw finished pencils. For many years he simultaneously produced the daily strip, a weekly syndicated newspaper column, and a 500-station radio program. Capp resumed visiting war amputees during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. A liberal during the conservative 1950s, he became a conservative during the liberal, hippie-era 1960s, spoofing counterculture icons such as Joan Baez (“Joanie Phoanie”) & Senator Ted Kennedy ("Senator O. Noble McGesture" of "Hyideelsport"). He attacked militant antiwar demonstrators and satirized student political groups. Capp retired in 1977 due to declining health. Li'l Abner was one of 20 comic strips included in the 1995 Comic Strip Classics series of USPS postage stamps. “Sadie Hawkins Day”, “double whammy”, “skunk works”, “Lower Slobovia”, and “shmoo” entered the lexicon. He also popularized uncommon terms such as “druthers”, “schmooze”, “neatnik”, “nogoodnik”, etc. H. L. Mencken’s “The American Language” credits the postwar mania for adding "-nik" to the ends of adjectives to create nouns as beginning, not with beatnik or Sputnik, but with Li'l Abner. Very good content self-typed TLS signed “Al” in pencil on his Cambridge, Mass. letterhead, no date (ca. 1937-45) to “Van”, most likely fellow cartoonist Raeburn Van Buren, illustrator and co-creator, with Capp, of “Abbie ‘n Slats”. Capp discusses the beginnings of L’il Abner and how Abner became, to Capp, the central figure of his strip, rather than Daisy Mae, and how he pulled the strip from King Features who wanted to focus on Daisy Mae and went to United Features. He says: "I doubt very much if Abner would have done a fraction as well had I not stuck to my conviction." He adds: “Something has happened to Abbie. While writing it I found myself becoming more and more interested in Slats. In your drawing, while Abbie has been realised excellently, I find that Slats is by far the most attractive character. Abbie is a swell foil – but Slats has become the star. There were two drawings of him that were masterpieces… Hence, when I return the first batch of lettered up strips, will you do some redrawing on Slats’ face on the strips I shall indicate. He seems to have grown in your drawings – the last heads are swell – the first few rather vague.” Capp agrees with Van Burten that “…it is a pain in the neck doing all our conferring by mail, but I think we’ve been doing pretty well. As we go towards the final job there may be changes necessary both on your end [he adds in pencil “and”] on mine. This is inevitably the history of all strips and, while bothersome, for the time being, it is very well worth it. The stooge is working along on the lettering – we expect the bulk of it to be finished Sunday night.” Raeburn Van Buren (1891-1987) Magazine and comic strip illustrator best known for his work on the syndicated “Abbie an' Slats“ 1937-71. After WW I service, he drew cartoons for The Saturday Evening Post, The New Yorker and Esquire and contributed to numerous magazines. He began drawing “Abbie an' Slats” in 1937, following a rural spinster raising her young cousin, a streetwise urban child. It was Capp’s idea to start a 2nd strip to build upon the success of his popular “Li'l Abner”. Instead of drawing it himself, Capp recruited Van Buren. The strip was carried in 400 newspapers but did not equal the popularity of “Li'l Abner.” Capp abandoned the strip in 1945, turning the writing chores over to his brother, Elliot Caplin. Co-creator Van Buren stayed with the strip which ended with his retirement in 1971. In 1958, he was named “Cartoonist of the Year” by the Philadelphia Quaker City Lodge of B’nai B’rith; previous winners included Al Capp. He also received the National Cartoonists Society Hall of Fame 1979 Gold Key Award.

Condition: Very good, 3 horizontal mail folds
Type:Letter






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