Today on the site, R.C. Harvey returns with the penultimate installment of his long series on the legendary feud between Ham Fisher and Al Capp. Last time saw the tragic end of Fisher, and this week we see what happened to Al Capp in his later years as a anti-counterculture crusader, when his history of sexual assault and harassment finally caught up to him.
Not content with the outlet Li’l Abner afforded him, Capp had branched out into other venues all through his career. In 1937, he had launched another comic strip, a somewhat more serious narrative about a crusty old spinster and her manly nephew called Abbie and Slats, which he wrote and Raeburn Van Buren drew; after nine years, Capp’s brother Elliott took over the scripting, continuing until the strip ceased in 1971. And in 1954, Capp started writing yet another strip, Long Sam, starring a female version of Li’l Abner. Drawn by Bob Lubbers, it ran until 1962.
Capp’s creations ventured beyond newsprint, too. An RKO movie adaptation, Li’l Abner, had appeared in 1940, but the characters were a bigger success on stage with a Broadway musical that ran for 693 performances, starting in November 1956; it was turned into a motion picture at Paramount in 1959. There was an amusement park, Dogpatch U.S.A., and a fast-food chain.
A master at creating publicity about himself and his strip, Capp enjoyed a second albeit simultaneous career as an after-dinner speaker and newspaper columnist, leaving most of the drawing on the strip to his assistants while he concentrated on writing the scripts. Capp was also a frequent guest on radio and television talk shows, regaling his audiences with his analyses of contemporary events, outrageous commentaries punctuated with his characteristic jubilant hoots of self-appreciative laughter.
In the 1960s, his target was often student protest against the Vietnam War: In the strip, college youths were all members of S.W.I.N.E., “Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything.” Touring college campuses as a speaker, Capp was on a crusade against what he saw as morally bankrupt youth.
We also have Kim Jooha's review of Mickey Zacchilli's Space Academy 123.
Anyone interested in art comics knows how singular Zacchilli's art is. When Space Academy 123 was serialized on Instagram, the style looked a bit simpler than usual -- which I did not have any complaint against because it was a free daily comic. However, seeing the art bigger and in more detail on a printed page, I realized the subtlety of each mark Zacchilli draws. Because there are fewer lines in the background than usual, you can see how each line makes a huge difference. Zacchilli's lines in her previous work, combined in thousands, felt like a huge torrent. Now each different shade of mark builds a subtle texture that elevates the work. Combined with Zacchilli’s distinct doodle-ish style of drawing and scribbling-style of handwriting, these seemingly random textures perfectly translate the youthful expressive energy and whirlwind of Space Academy 123’s characters and happenings. The paper stock of the book is similar to a newspaper or cheap manga paper, but is more expensive and durable — this adds to the synergy, too.
—News. Many more papers have dropped Wiley Miller's Non Sequitur over the "Go Fuck Yourself, Trump" message in one his strips.
—Commentary. Jessamyn West writes about Bechdel's Fun Home.
By the time Fun Home came out in 2006 I was nearly 40, post-married, and living pretty happily alone. My sister and I would occasionally get together and scratch our heads at our “raised by wolves” upbringing as if it had been a bad movie or something that happened to other people we distantly knew.
I read Fun Home; it hit me like a lightning bolt and my whole childhood snapped back around me.
—Interviews. The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Mort Gerberg.