Sep 18, 2012
Lil' Abner: Backwoods Adonis with No Interest in Women
Al Capp's L'il Abner, started in 1934, chronicled the adventures of 19-year old muscleman Abner Yokum, his elderly parents, and the colorful residents of Dogpatch, U.S.A. It was part of the contemporary hillbilly fad.
Books, movies, and radio programs were presenting the hills (Ozarks or Appalachians) as an untouched wilderness, an Eden inhabited by rustic Adonises whose muscles and rude manners provided a remedy for the ultra-sophistication of Cary Grant and Clark Gable.
The backwoods Adonis became a common image, extending through Jethro of The Beverly Hillbillies to The Dukes of Hazzard.
The prelapsarian state had one drawback, at least for heterosexual readers: no place for heterosexual romance. So uninterested were the men of Dogpatch that Al Capp instituted a Sadie Hawkins Day, an annual festival in which man-hungry spinsters chased "skeered" bachelors, and whoever got "ketched" had to marry.
Their soft drink brand, Kickapoo Joy Juice, is still being sold in Asia.
In 1952, changing sociocultural mores -- such as the increasing awareness that a man who is not interested in women may be interested in men -- prompted Al Capp to marry off Abner. Soon he became a father.
Increasingly conservative and unfunny as time progressed, the strip pushed forward in a dwindling number of newspapers until 1977.
See also: Li'l Abner, the Musical; and I Go Pogo: The Gay Possum of Okefenokee Swamp