Skip to main content

Alfred Caplin

Boris Chaliapin, 1904 - May 1979
Alfred Gerald Caplin, 28 Sep 1909 - 5 Nov 1979
Alfred Gerald Caplin, 28 Sep 1909 - 5 Nov 1979
Watercolor, gouache, graphite pencil on paper-faced illustration board
Image (Verified): 33 x 29.8 cm (13 x 11 3/4")
Mat: 55.9 × 40.6 cm (22 × 16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Restrictions & Rights
© Chris Murphy
Object number
Exhibition Label
On August 13, 1934, the first Li’l Abner comic strip appeared in eight North American newspapers. Its twenty-four-year-old creator, Al Capp, had a vision of creating a droll hillbilly world, "the uncertain hamlet of Dogpatch," inhabited by a gullible cast of far-fetched characters who always managed to outdo one another in duplicity and inanity. Depression-era readers loved the farce and could almost daily relate to some character whose life situation was far worse than their own. Time reported in 1950 that "after 14 years of drawing Li’l Abner, Capp makes $300,000 a year, [and] is read by 38 million fans in 700 U.S. newspapers."
For this cover, Chaliapin portrayed Capp smiling impishly as two of his original lead characters, Li’l Abner and Daisy Mae, pull at his ears. The "Shmoo" in each bubble is a Capp creature who could do anything for anybody, from laying an egg to transporting characters elsewhere.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection