The comic strip Lil' Abner, created by New Englander Al Capp, was two years old in the year 1936. The strip's namesake was a 6'3" sweet-faced lunk of a Southern 19 year-old living in the horribly impoverished town of Dogpatch. Making light of poverty, guile and inbreeding only scratches the surface of Capp's comedy stylings.
Born to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, Capp (formerly Caplin) lost a leg to a trolley accident when he was nine, contributing along with his own youth lived in squalor to his dark, satiric humor. His father was a failed illustrator who taught him drawing as a kind of therapy. He was living in Greenwich Village, ghost-drawing Joe Palooka when he came across the idea of a strip based on the kind, stupid, goiter-laden folk he encountered while hitchhiking through West Virginia.
The humor of the strip comes in large part from a) the simple-mindedness of the inhabitants of Dogpatch and 2) how they are able through American-grit and stubbornness to overcome any and all adversity that comes their way from city slickers or politicians who attempted to take advantage of them.
Capp is often confused for having been liberal during conservative times, and conservative during liberal times, but that only means he always worked to make fun of what ever the contemporary trend was. In short, a self-serving satirist.
(Took the kids to catch the Mercury Summer Stock production of Lil' Abner: The Musical at the Brooks Theatre tonight. We had a great time, it is a super-fun production - it closes Saturday night, check it out!)
UPDATE: "Lil' Abner" ran in the Cleveland Press.