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Dogpatch and Dogpatch U.S.A.

In an era well before “political correctness” entered the vocabulary, Dogpatch exceeded every stereotype of Appalachia. The hillbillies in Li’l Abner’s town were poorer than poor. The houses were hopelessly ramshackle. Most Dogpatchers were dumber than dumb. The remainder were scoundrels and thieves. Most of the men were too lazy to work, yet Dogpatch women were desperate enough to chase them. One preferred to live with hogs. Those who farmed their “tarnip” crop watched turnip termites descend every year, locust-like, to devour the crop. In the midst of the Great Depression, lowly Dogpatch allowed the most hard-up Americans to laugh at yokels worse off than they were. In Al Capp’s own words Dogpatch was “an average stone-age community” nestled in a bleak valley, between two cheap and uninteresting hills, somewhere. To old friends, the denizens of Dogpatch will be old friends. To strangers, however, they will probably be strangers.

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Dogpatch U.S.A., once located between Jasper and Harrison, Arkansas, Dogpatch, U.S.A. mirrored the hillbilly town made famous in Al Capp’s comic strip, Li’l Abner. At Dogpatch, U.S.A, visitors could meet their favorite characters, enjoy numerous rides, and take in the scenery of the beautiful Ozark Mountains. Whether exploring “Dogpatch Cave,” the hideout of Hairless Joe and Lonesome Polecat, riding the rails across the Bottomless Canyon, or Trout Fishin’ in Bluff Spring, Li’l Abner fans experienced the daily life of a “Dogpatcher.”

Dogpatch, U.S.A. closed in the mid-1990s. Currently, there are no plans to reopen it.

The Shmoo

The Shmoo first appeared in the strip in August 1948. According to Shmoo legend, the lovable creature laid eggs, gave milk and died of sheer esctasy when looked at with hunger. The Shmoo loved to be eaten and tasted like any food desired. Anything that delighted people delighted a Shmoo. Fry a Shmoo and it came out chicken. Broil it and it came out steak. Shmoo eyes made terrific suspender buttons. The hide of the Shmoo if cut thin made fine leather and if cut thick made the best lumber. Shmoo whiskers made splendid toothpicks. The Shmoo satisfied all the world’s wants. You could never run out of Shmoon (plural of Shmoo) because they multiplied at such an incredible rate. The Shmoo believed that the only way to happiness was to bring happiness to others. Li’l Abner discovered Shmoos when he ventured into the forbidden Valley of the Shmoon, against the frantic protestations of Ol’ Man Mose. “Shmoos,” he warned, “is the greatest menace to hoomanity th’ world has evah known.” “Thass becuz they is so bad, huh?” asked Li’l Abner. “No, stupid,” answered Mose, hurling one of life’s profoundest paradoxes at Li’l Abner. “It’s because they’re so good!”

Ironically, the lovable and selfless Shmoos ultimately brought misery to humankind because people with a limitless supply of self-sacrificing Shmoos stopped working and society broke down. Seen at first as a boon to humankind, they were ultimately hunted down and exterminated to preserve the status quo. (Thought extinct after the 1948 adventure, one Shmoo always seemed to escape to Dogpatch’s Valley of the Shmoon to form a new colony and a later plot revival by Capp). Licensed Shmoo merchandise became a huge phenomenon in the late ’40s and early ’50s, spawning a wide variety of dolls, toys, glasses, wallpaper, belts, books, jewelry, balloons, clocks, ashtrays, cannisters, salt & pepper shakers, dairy products, banks, belts and ear muffs. There was even an official Shmoo fishing lure! These are all highly collectible items today.

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Fearless Fosdick

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The “ideel” of Li’l Abner, Detective Fearless Fosdick was Al Capp’s long-running parody of Chester Gould’s “Dick Tracy.” Debuting in 1942, Fearless Fosdick became so useful to Capp and so popular in his own right, that the strip-within-a- strip became a regular feature in “Li’l Abner” for over thirty years. Tracy fought horrible villains and, while sometimes wounded, always emerged the classic comic strip hero. Fosdick was a farcical and guileless hack and was never simply wounded. Perpetually riddled by flying bullets, Fosdick’s enduring trademark was the Swiss cheese bullet holes revealing his truly two-dimensional comic strip body. He was extremely gullible and unfailingly loyal to his department, even though absurdly underpaid. He remained reverent of authority though his chief was a corrupt scoundrel. While he never married his own longtime fiance, Prudence Pimpleton, Fosdick was responsible for the unwitting marriage of his biggest fan, Li’l Abner to Daisy Mae in an historic 1952 dailies episode. ff

Sadie Hawkins Day

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Sadie Hawkins Day, an American folk event, made its debut in Al Capp’s Li’l Abner strip November 15, 1937. Sadie Hawkins was “the homeliest gal in the hills” who grew tired of waiting for the fellows to come a courtin’. Her father, Hekzebiah Hawkins, a prominent resident of Dogpatch, was even more worried about Sadie living at home for the rest of his life, so he decreed the first annual Sadie Hawkins Day, a foot race in which the unmarried gals pursued the town’s bachelors, with matrimony the consequence. By the late 1930′s the event had swept the nation and had a life of its own. Life magazine reported over 200 colleges holding Sadie Hawkins Day events in 1939, only two years after its inception. It became a woman empowering rite at high schools and college campuses, long before the modern feminist movement gained prominence. The basis of Sadie Hawkins Day is that women and girls take the initiative in inviting the man or boy of their choice out on a date, typically to a dance attended by other bachelors and their aggressive dates. When Al Capp created the event, it was not his intention to have the event occur annually on a specific date because it inhibited his freewheeling plotting. However, due to its enormous popularity and the numerous fan letters Capp received, the event became an annual event in the strip during the month of November, lasting four decades.

Character Profile: Mammy Yokum

Mammy, born Pansy Hunks, was the pint-sized, highly principalled, cornpipe smoking leader of the Yokum clan. Her lethal right undercut, sometimes called the “good night Irene punch” helped her uphold law, order and decency. She seemed the toughest character and kept up the integrity of the strip. Her mantra was “good is better than evil because it’s nicer”.

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Welcome!

Dear Li’l Abner friends & fans,

Welcome to the Official Site of Li’l Abner!

Check out the family album of Li’l Abner Characters, as well as a short bio of Al Capp himself! Scroll down for Character Profiles of the four main characters! Click HERE to see an original Li’l Abner daily strip!

Licensing and other inquiries should be directed to cappenterprises@lil-abner.com