Writing a definitive biography of the "Li'l Abner" creator meant coming face to face with just how shockingly mean, and just how perplexingly kind, the controversial artist could be. In the year run of his satiric comic strip "Li'l Abner," Al Capp not only launched iconic American characters Abner, Daisy Mae, Mammy Yokum, Pappy Yokum, the Shmoos and places Dogpatch, Lower Slobbovia , but introduced lingo like "hogwash," "natcherly," and "double-whammy" into the lexicon. His legacy, though, is more complicated than that. Its authors, veteran biographer Michael Schumacher and underground comics pioneer Denis Kitchen, set out to highlight his talents as an artist—but found themselves inevitably also chronicling the man's dark side. Both authors grew up reading "Li'l Abner," and while Schumacher was too young to understand all the finer points of the strip, years later he became intrigued with Capp's story. Kitchen also loved Capp's unpredictable plots, his sexy women, and his uncouth, often grotesque cast.
At the age of 9, he jumped off the back of an ice wagon directly into the path of an oncoming streetcar. As a result of the accident, he had to have his leg amputated below the hip. Capp wore a prosthetic leg. Rather than hide the fact, he openly joked about it all his life.
Li'l Abner is a satirical American comic strip that appeared in many newspapers in the United States, Canada and Europe, featuring a fictional clan of hillbillies in the impoverished mountain village of Dogpatch, USA. Written and drawn by Al Capp — , the strip ran for 43 years, from August 13, through November 13, Comic strips typically dealt with northern urban experiences before Capp introduced Li'l Abner, the first strip based in the South.