Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I met Al Capp when I was six

Luckily I was way too young for him, though he did say "you're the one I've been waiting for", as I asked for his autograph in my sweet peach dress. It was at a Wisconsin newspaper convention at the old Plankinton Hotel in Milwaukee. Last year his centenary passed unnoticed. Stefan Kanfer, City Journal:
Otto Caplin wasn’t much of a provider, but he gave his son something more valuable: encouragement. Otto was a compulsive doodler, and he saw that his boy had a gift for drawing. He praised Alfred’s efforts and urged him to do more of them. Soon, working with a pencil and sketch pad was one of only two things that interested the dark-haired, handsome youth. The other was girls. After failing geometry for nine consecutive terms, Alfred dropped out of high school and began to explore the world beyond New Haven. The limping hitchhiker roamed as far south as Appalachia, where illiterate but hospitable farmers allowed him a free overnight berth—and where he made the acquaintance of their comely daughters. Alfred began wondering how he could combine these interests; when he returned home, he thought there might be a way. He had read enticing stories about Bud Fisher, the creator of Mutt and Jeff, who “got $3,000 a week and was constantly marrying French countesses. I decided that was for me.”
I do remember my sisters and I were occasionally referred to as Moonbeam McSwine and banished for a bath after running around outside all day. I didn't at all envy Li'l Abner's job of mattress-testing. And I thought it odd that he was a knee man. Though he wasn't mentioned in the article, I think the most notable character for me was Joe Btfsplk. And I had forgotten about Joanie Phoanie, maybe because I wasn't reading the papers so much then, I was in college (at the Harvard he lampooned). I was a Dem then, though I hope I was never a phony:)

But I have since discovered Dogpatch can be anywhere.

And have rediscovered Al Capp.

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