Al Capp's "Hardhat's Bedtime Story Book"

Goof Button has scanned the wonderful illustrations from Al Capp's 1971 book The Hardhat's Bedtime Story Book.


Al Capp was the creator of one of the great works of satire – in any medium – of the 20th century: the comic strip Li'l Abner, which ran in the daily papers from 1934-1977. It was an hilarious and cutting rebuttal to slick hucksterism and phony sophistication…

By the 1960s and 70s, though, his persona seems to have undergone a change; or was it simply that the culture had changed around him in the fifty years since his youth? I don't know what his personal politics were throughout his life, but I imagine this quote from his bio at Wikipedia is a pretty cartoonish (ha!) conclusion:

"In the '60s, Capp's politics swung from liberal to conservative, and instead of caricaturing big business types, he began spoofing counterculture icons such as Joan Baez… "

Since when are "big business types" and "counterculture icons" mutually exclusive? It's embarrassingly clear, especially in hindsight, how opportunist and careerist many (if not most) of the Baezes and Dylans of the 60s actually were — Capp was merely doing what he had always done, deflating the fatheads and phonies. That he now had even more platforms (his strip, newspaper columns and reportedly a very popular – if increasingly controversial – presence on the college lecture circuit) to express his opinions may have inflated his tendencies to mock and goad those he saw as deserving figures and institutions…