Current readers of comic strips might be unfamiliar with Al Capp and "Li'l Abner." However, for over four decades, "Li'l Abner" was one of the most popular and influential strips to ever be printed in newspapers. The strip was adapted for radio, the stage, and screen. Countless artists were influenced and inspired by Capp's work. Not only that, but things such as Sadie Hawkins dances, schmoozing, and double whammies wouldn't exist had it not been for "Li'l Abner". As a very young child I vaguely remember visiting the Dogpatch theme park in Arkansas. I also remember reading for a couple of years in the late 1980s reprints of the strip in the newspaper. My dad's favorite musical of all time (and one of the only ones he ever enjoyed watching) was LI'L ABNER. However, despite the popularity and impact the "Li'l Abner" has had, there has never been a definitive collection of "Li'l Abner" strips until now (does that sound like a late-night infomercial or what?).
IDW intends to publish all the "Li'l Abner" strips (dailies and Sundays) in what will eventually be over 20 volumes. LI'L ABNER: THE COMPLETE DAILIES AND COLOR SUNDAYS, VOL. 1: 1934-1936 is the first volume in the collection and it begins at the beginning of it all. The collection begins at the Yokum cabin in the Southern hills. Mammy and Pappy receive a letter from Mammy's sister Bessie who now lives in New York and is a well-known socialite. Bessie wants Abner to visit her and perhaps live with her and thus begins the adventures of Li'l Abner. In this volume he moves to New York for a short stay, outwits villains, has all sorts of damsels falling in love with him (but none are as beautiful and true as Daisy Mae), flies in an airplane, captures gangsters, goes to college and becomes a star football player, and wrestles a gorilla.
The book is set up so that there are five strips on each page. At the end of a year, that year's series of Sunday strips are featured in their full-color glory. The type of the daily strips is a bit smaller than in previous collections, but is actually the same size as most strips printed in newspapers today are. VOL. 1 also includes an introduction by Denis Kitchen and a biographical essay about Capp by Bruce Canwell. It's an outstanding book; this collection will be THE definitive "Li'l Abner" collection when all is said and done. Highly recommended for fans of Capp and "Li'l Abner" and those interested in American pop culture, as well as anyone who enjoys comics and American art.