Monday, July 05, 2004

Uncle Future is now running one of the most famous Li'l Abner stories of all time: the 1952 story where Li'l Abner is told that his destiny is to marry Daisy Mae. Without giving too much away, let me just say that this one is worth following for all the twists and turns, not to mention all the great "Fearless Fosdick" strips it incorporates.

The story is also a great exercise in meta-humor; Al Capp teases his audience by acknowledging -- through the characters, and in particular their comments, on the strip-within-a-strip, "Fearless Fosdick" -- all the devices comic-strip artists use to keep people reading. The strip refers to and mocks every single device that Capp has used over the years to trick us into thinking this might be the time Li'l Abner gets married. And then there are the indirect references to the strip's audience and its popularity; as Abner says in the strip they ran today: "Lots o' folks thought ah was gonna git married, lots o' times, but ah allus wriggles outa it!"

Whether or not this story was the shark-jumping moment for Li'l Abner is an ongoing debate that I won't get into here, in part because I'm not all that familiar with the strip after the early '50s. (I do think, from what I've seen, that the strip's decline had more to do with Capp's decreasing involvement with drawing it, along with his increasingly bitter and humorless mood.) But the story itself represents Li'l Abner at its best. By all means follow it.

No comments: