This is another one of those books that was first issued by Ballantine Books as a paperback original which was then followed by the Ballantine hardcover. And it is an early book by Ballantine, the paperback being the publisher’s eighth offering. Both it and the hardcover were published in 1953.
Alfred Gerald Caplin, better known as Al Capp, was a cartoonist. He created a world, Dogpatch, and populated it with characters then known far and wide — Li’l Abner, Daisy Mae, Ma and Pa Yokum. His was the first comic strip set in the South. Text about Capp’s brilliance, quoted from “Time,” is quite glowing:
“Capp fills a niche in comics comparable to Gershwin’s in jazz, or D. W. Griffith’s in the movies….Some of Capps’s admirers vow that he had not only created a genuine 20th Century folk tale, but told it through a new kind of writing — a mixture of prose and hieroglyphics which simultaneously stings the mind of the intellectual and reduces the simple subway rider to coarse guffaws. The faithful number him among the great men of U. S. art & letters.”
While this book and Capp were well thought of when the book was published in 1953, the alternately charming and acerbic Capp went on to self-destruction via the tendencies of a dirty old man.
But back then he was something. Even if you weren’t an appreciator of his comic strip, you had to be impressed with his friends. None other than Charlie Chaplin writes the foreword for the book. And John Steinbeck writes the introduction which is excerpted on the rear cover of both the hardcover and the paperback.