Al Capp

Al Capp Cover

Al Capp

A Life to the Contrary

By Michael Schumacher; Denis Kitchen

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Hardcover, 9781608196234, 305pp.

Publication Date: February 26, 2013


More than thirty years have passed since Al Capp's death, and he may no longer be a household name. But at the height of his career, his groundbreaking comic strip, "Li'l Abner," reached ninety million readers. The strip ran for forty-three years, spawned two movies and a Broadway musical, and originated such expressions as "hogwash" and "double-whammy." Capp himself was a familiar personality on TV and radio; as a satirist, he was frequently compared to Mark Twain.

Though "Li'l Abner" brought millions joy, the man behind the strip was a complicated and often unpleasant person. A childhood accident cost him a leg-leading him to art as a means of distinguishing himself. His apprenticeship with Ham Fisher, creator of "Joe Palooka," started a twenty-year feud that ended in Fisher's suicide. Capp enjoyed outsized publicity for a cartoonist, but his status abetted sexual misconduct and protected him from the severest repercussions. Late in life, his politics became extremely conservative; he counted Richard Nixon as a friend, and his gift for satire was redirected at targets like John Lennon, Joan Baez, and anti-war protesters on campuses across the country.

With unprecedented access to Capp's archives and a wealth of new material, Michael Schumacher and Denis Kitchen have written a probing biography. Capp's story is one of incredible highs and lows, of popularity and villainy, of success and failure-told here with authority and heart.

About the Author
Denis Kitchen created Mom's Homemade Comics in 1968 as a self-published underground cartoonist in Milwaukee. A year later, he formed Krupp Comic Works, Inc., a hippie comix empire. Kitchen is also the founder of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Since the '70s, he has been both an agent for and publisher of comics and books. He lives in Shutesbury, Massachusetts.Michael Schumacher has written biographies of Allen Ginsberg, Eric Clapton, Phil Ochs, Francis Ford Coppola, George Mikan, and, most recently, comics pioneer Will Eisner. His other recent books include "Wreck of the Carl" "D." and "Mighty Fitz." He lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin.