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This volume features two separate Fearless Fosdick adventures. In one, our favorite bumbling detective moonlights as female officer Phyllis Fosdick. Paramount successfully released their Li'l Abner movie in 1959, but here Li'l Abner makes a separate film... with disastrous results. Years before Japan invaded the American auto market, Capp presciently depicts the success of the $19.95 Japanese Nomotocar (it has no motor), and Capp foresaw the cross-breeding of animals long before DNA manipulation. Also featured in this volume: jinx Joe Btfsplk, pilot Captain Eddie Ricketyback, corrupt Senator Jack S. Phogbound, and criminal Abner doppelganger Gat Garson! Each quarterly volume contains extensive story-by-story annotations by Li'l Abner and Al Capp expert Denis Kitchen.
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During the 1940s and '50s, Li'l Abner was one of America's most popular comic strips, while creator Capp was hailed as a satirist in the same league as Voltaire and Mark Twain. The strip focused on how the naive hillbilly residents of Dogpatch got along with each other and with representatives of the more sophisticated, corrupt world around them. In particular, Li'l Abner Yokum was a strapping youth who was too ignorant and good-natured to realize how people were being abused by corrupt politicians and tycoons, and he was physically indestructible to boot. Like his family and neighbors, somehow he always survived the worst life could throw at him. At his best, Capp used the Dogpatchers as foils for wild comedy that was also genuinely biting social criticism. He was willing to take on anybody. Unfortunately, the reverse side of that readiness to attack was that Capp didn't really like anybody either, and his misanthropy was beginning to show by the time the strips collected here were done. On the other hand, the strip seldom looked better, since in 1954 Capp hired Frank Frazetta to help with the drawing. Frazetta's fondness for big, muscle-bound males and scantily clad, voluptuous females fit perfectly. He's good at rendering Capp's troupe of grotesque characters too, such as Joe Btfsplk, the walking jinx; and Fearless Fosdick, a parody of Dick Tracy. Their antics distract from the writing's basic bitterness. This carefully produced collection of Sunday strips is enjoyable despite the sad aura of approaching emotional meltdown.
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The last in a series collecting the Li'l Abner newspaper strips on which renowned fantasy artist Frank Frazetta served as an assistant, this volume collects episodes from a period in which Abner-creator Capp's fluid cartooning and cornpone humor peaked (though many contend the strip jumped the shark when Abner finally married long-suffering Daisy Mae a decade earlier). These Sunday installments, reprinted in full color, feature the various hillbilly residents of Dogpatch--Abner and the rest of the Yokum family, Hairless Joe and Lonesome Polecat, and pulchritudinous pigkeeper Moonbeam McSwine--as well as pointy-jawed Dick Tracy parody Fearless Fosdick and the inhabitants of the frozen wasteland of Lower Slobbovia, the only place on earth worse off than Dogpatch. Capp's satiric streak is on display in send-ups of abstract art (painted by "Pablo Le Phonee") and Disneyland, where Abner's town is transformed into Dogpatchland. Hugely popular in its heyday and largely forgotten now, Abner, whose run concluded in 1977, is fondly regarded by hardcore comics fans and oldsters sentimental about "the funny pages." Gordon Flagg
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