More than 30 years have passed since Al Capp's death, and he may no longer be a household name. But at the height of his career, his groundbreaking comic strip, Li'l Abner, reached 90 million readers. The strip ran for 43 years, spawned two movies and a Broadway musical, and originated such expressions as "hogwash" and "double-whammy." Capp himself was a familiar personality on TV and radio; as a satirist, he was frequently compared to Mark Twain. Though Li'l Abner brought millions joy, the man behind the strip was a complicated and often unpleasant person. A childhood accident cost him a leg leading him to art as a means of distinguishing himself. His apprenticeship with Ham Fisher, creator of Joe Palooka, started a 20 year feud that ended in Fisher's suicide.
Capp enjoyed outsized publicity for a cartoonist, but his status abetted sexual misconduct and protected him from the severest repercussions. Late in life, his politics became extremely conservative; he counted Richard Nixon as a friend, and his gift for satire was redirected at targets like John Lennon, Joan Baez, and anti-war protesters on campuses across the country. With unprecedented access to Capp's archives and a wealth of new material, Michael Schumacher and Denis Kitchen have produced a probing biography. Capp's story is one of incredible highs and lows, of popularity and villainy, of success and failure - told here with authority and heart.
What us the connection between artistic genius and malignant narcissism? We may never know, but it makes for fora fascinating bio of cartoonist AL Capp.