Today we’re going to look at a cartoon from a series I’ve never really looked at before. Al Capp’s Li’l Abner was one of the most popular comic strips of all time. Two feature films were made based on his characters, but for a brief time Columbia produced a series of Li’l Abner animated shorts. Only five films were made and it appears that they currently reside in the public domain. So here is today’s short, “Sadie Hawkins Day,” courtesy of YouTube.
Many people today are familiar with the event known as Sadie Hawkins Day. When I was in High School we had a Sadie Hawkins Dance, where the girls asked the boys. But I would bet that many people today don’t realize that this originated in the Li’l Abner comic strip. This short follows Abner as he tries to get away from Daisy Mae on Sadie Hawkins Day, with the help of Mammy.
From what I’ve read, Al Capp was never really pleased with the animated versions of his characters. This short is a pretty good indication as to why the series ended after five films. The animation is alright, nothing spectacular…but I think the real problem lies in that the short goes for visual gags, whereas Capp’s comic strip was known for it’s dialogue.
The resolution on this YouTube video makes it hard to get a good idea of the character design. It’s all based on Capp’s drawings, but doesn’t really do them justice. Capp was a brilliant artist and translating that to animation had to be no easy task.
I received the first volume of Capp’s original strips as a Christmas gift and have really been enjoying becoming more familiar with his work. Looking at the animated shorts that were made is interesting, but they are missing the spirit of Capp.