Li'l Abner: The Comic Strip That Changed The Face Of The American South

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Li'l Abner comic strip, 1949. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Li'l Abner, a satirical American comic strip that appeared in newspapers across North America and Europe, chronicled the shenanigans of a motley crew of hillbillies living in the fictional Appalachian town of Dogpatch, U.S.A. Among them was Daisy Mae Scragg, a beautiful and hardworking woman hopelessly devoted to Abner; Mammy, the unofficial mayor of Dogpatch, and her husband, Pappy; and of course, Li'l Abner. In 1953, an even l'il-er Abner arrived on the scene in the form of Abner and Daisy Mae's son, Honest Abe.

Running for 43 years between August 13, 1934 and November 13, 1977, with 60 million readers across 1,000 newspapers, Al Capp's comic strip changed the way the whole world viewed the American South. As its goodhearted, scrappy characters prevailed through challenge after challenge, many readers began to question their assumptions about people who used words like "natcherly" and "double whammy." The strip actually introduced several words and concepts to the lexicon, including the idea of Sadie Hawkins dances and the shmoo, a fantasy creature in the comic strips whose name has been adopted by several fields of science to describe various processes and objects.