Showing posts with label al Capp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label al Capp. Show all posts

Thursday, November 06, 2008


No, of course he didn't. Harvey Kurtzman did, but according to Mike Fontanelli there would nevertheless have been no MAD without Capp. Writing for the ASIFA-HOLLYWOOD ARCHIVE site, Mike says Mad's idea of making fun of comic strip characters, which is how Mad got started, came directly from Capp's running parody of Dick Tracy, "Fearless Fosdick."

Now that I've had a chance to think about it, that doesn't surprise me at all. Capp influenced Mad, Mad influenced Saturday Night Live, and SNL influenced...well, a sizable chunk of modern American comedy and culture

Dick Tracy was made for parody. Look at him: banana hat rim, razor-sharp profile, weirdly-graded hairline, an almost-too-good-to-be-true dedication to his work...

...and a delight in beating up criminals.

Fosdick doesn't just beat them up, he shoots them! It was really nice of Chester Gould to let Capp parody his character to such an extreme (above, click to enlarge). He never asked Capp for money, and never leaned on Capp to dilute the humor.

Fosdick was enormously popular with the public and newspaper editors alike. According to a Pageant Magazine the syndicate begged Capp to do Fosdick as a regular second strip, along with "L'il Abner." Capp declined. He was afraid that a too frequently appearing parody would soon run out of gas.

With the popularity of Fearless Fosdick, other comics parodies began to appear. Most fell flat but one was a spectacular success.

That one was Kurtzman's Mad. I don't mean to imply that Mad was a rank imitator. You can see from these first three pages of "Superduperman" (above) that Kurtzman and Wood added a lot to the Fosdick idea. Even so, the influence is obvious. The parody is pushed Capp-style to it's absolute, over-the-top limit. Kurtzman parodied lots of strips, not just one like Capp, so he didn't have to worry about running out of ideas.

Mad had its work cut out for it. It's hard to go farther over the top than Capp.

But Mad tried, and the public loved it. These were the days before political correctness when fun wasn't a crime.

Capp was amazing. Here (above) the criminal mastermind is a talking chair. Of course every crime boss has a dame and the chair is no exception. I'd have guessed that a chair might have a stool for a girlfriend, but nope...the girl is a real, live, human female. I wonder what their dates were like.

There's a lot more to Mike's article than appears here. Check it out at the ASIFA-Hollywood archive:

Friday, May 09, 2008


Pinch me so I'll know I'm not dreaming! This is too good to be true!  ASIFA-Hollywood has just put up a whopping, large post on Fearless Fosdick, the best cartoon strip (actually a strip-within-a-strip) in the American newspapers of my time!

Many thanks to ace-cartoonist and Al Capp fan, Mike Fontanelli for putting this together! Mike knows what the good stuff is and he serves up only the best.  Many thanks also to ASIFA webmaster Steve Worth, for giving the drawings the star treatment.  Compare the way the drawings look here, with my layout, to the infinitely superior way they look on the ASIFA site. Steve is far and away the best web designer I know of.

Mike makes the point in his article that Fearless Fosdick was the major inspiration for Kurtzman's MAD.  Looking at the evidence, I don't doubt it for an instant.

Incidentally, did you know that the first 12 issues of Mad have been collected in two volumes of the set shown above?  I haven't seen them, so I don't know what they look like, but here's a link to a bookseller that stocks them:

Talking about Archie, what do you think of the new look the comic company is giving them? 

Here's (above) a page from the new Archie, borrowed from  When Cartoon Brew did a piece on this they were inundated with letters.