The Enigma of Al Capp

The creator of “Li’l Abner” goes under the microscope in this handsome monograph. The National Book Award-nominated author of “Darconville’s Cat” and “Three Wogs” delivers this slender-yet-rich monograph on the controversial life of cartoonist Al Capp, creator of Li’l Abner. “The left eventually broke his heart,” wrote John Updike of Capp. A genuine American mythmaker and celebrated funnyman, Capp used his strip for years to expose greed, corruption and social injustice, while bringing belly laughs and dramatic suspense to the lives of millions of people every day. Theroux, however, dives head-first into the often glossed-over side of Capp, delivering a keen (but not without compassion) analysis of Capp’s degeneration into a bitter, disillusioned, conservative extremist, who began using his strip in later years to attack the very causes he once championed. This is a rich and compelling investigation into the psyche of a paradoxical American icon, who at the height of his fame was one of America’s highest-paid and most well-known entertainers, gracing the cover of “Time” and other magazines, and franchising “Li’l Abner” into film, theater, radio, merchandising and more. Illustrated throughout with examples of Capp’s cartoons.

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