Li’l Abner was the title character in the long-running (1934-1977) syndicated newspaper strip by cartoonist Al Capp. Hardly “li’l,” Abner was a hulking, naive man-child, and the frequent foil for Capp’s satiric stories about American life and politics. This simple-minded citizen of humble Dogpatch was a paragon of virtue in a dark and cynical world. Abner often found himself far from home, whether in the company of unscrupulous industrialist General Bullmoose, in hapless snowbound Lower Slobbovia, or wherever Capp’s whimsical and often complex plots led our heroic hillbilly.
Li’l Abner was the unlikely son of tiny Mammy (Pansy) and Pappy (Lucifer) Yokum. Mammy was the industrious “sassiety leader” of backward Dogpatch who instilled honesty and All-American ideals in Li’l Abner. Pappy, in contrast, was an illiterate and hopeless parasite. From the inception of the strip, Abner was vigorously pursued by Daisy Mae, a beautiful Dogpatch damsel hopelessly in love with the bumbling, unappreciative and seldom amorous bachelor. Abner spent nearly two decades outracing Daisy in the annual Sadie Hawkins Day race but the couple finally married in 1952, a fictional event that captured national attention and was a cover story for Life magazine. Their only child, Honest Abe, was born in 1953.
Li’l Abner generally had no visible means of support but he sometimes earned his living as a mattress tester. When not involved in worldwide escapades, he was engrossed by his favorite “comical strip,” Fearless Fosdick. He interacted with many marvelous and fantastic characters creating language and situations which have become permanent parts of the American lexicon.