Sunday, April 11, 2010
Sunday Funnies: ANDY CAPP
The beloved character of Andy Capp first appeared in the DAILY MIRROR on August 5, 1957. Originally featured in a series of single panel gag strips, he proved popular enough to get his own regular strip, and was voted to be the "readers favorite" throughout much of it's early years.
The first Andy Capp Annual (1958) was so successful that they began to release the collections twice a year in the U.K. This popularity led eventually to international syndication.
The following selection of strips were collected in 1974, coincidentally the same year that it won the National Cartoonist Society Award for Humor Comic Strip.
By Reg Smythe.
from ANDY CAPP #32, 1974
If you've never encountered the character before, one of the first recurring themes you'll be likely to notice in the strip is alcoholism. Andy, as well as most of the cast, are frequently seen enjoying a pint and socializing down at the local pub.
The next major recurring theme is domestic violence. They've toned it down little by little over the years, but the earliest strips almost define the term politically incorrect.
You might begin to get the idea that Andy is just a misogynistic chauvinist, but really, he just doesn't get along with anybody. Appearing just as often as the spousal abuse are strips that present him as a generally short-tempered person.
Another taboo topic that the strip embraces is infidelity. It's never been explicitly proven that Andy is unfaithful to Flo, but it's definitely been hinted at quite often.
Poverty is another unlikely source of humor.
And of course, no comic that's specifically targeted to men could be complete without references to sports of some kind. The sports section is one of the biggest selling points for most newspapers (coincidence that the funnies are usually in that same section?).
In later years, Smythe regretted making Flo have to suffer so much. Rather than eliminate the abusiveness altogether, he merely shifted sides. I'm not entirely convinced that this was the best solution. If you came into the strip in the 80s, you might actually think that Andy was just a henpecked husband.
Despite every thing that happens, these characters will never be anything but the same stereotypes they were in 1957. At least they seem to be okay with it.
Despite it's taboo themes and distinctively English humor, Andy Capp appears in the newspapers of over 50 countries.
CLASSIC COMICS: Andy Capp Archives
REMIXED COMICS: Andy Capp as a vampire
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