IDW to publish L'il Abner

IDW announced yesterday their next big strip collection project for their Library of American Comics imprint -- Al Capp's L'il Abner. Volume One will cover 1934-36 and feature an essay by Bruce Canwell, and an introduction by Denis Kitchen. It will be a 288 page hardcover, retail for $49.99 and be available in stores in April.

Those with long memories will recall that Kitchen had attempted to publish Abner's complete run back in the 1990s via his Kitchen Sink Press, but never completed the project due to the company's going under. The strip, about a colorful group of hillbillies, ventured frequently into political and social satire, and was one of the most popular comics of its day. Capp's eventual turn into hardline conservatism, however, left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of cartoonists and critics in following generations, and the strip has fallen a bit out of favor in recent decades. It will be interesting to see how this new attempt at collecting the material is received.

Read the full press release after the jump:

San Diego, CA (January 26, 2010) – IDW Publishing and its imprint, the Library of American Comics, are proud to announce the upcoming series, The Complete L’il Abner, collecting Al Capp’s comedy masterpiece as never before. Volume one of this new collection will feature both daily comics and previously unreprinted full-color Sunday pages from 1934 to 1936.

Debuted on August 13, 1934, L’il Abner became one of the most influential comic strips of all time during its 43-year run. Creator Al Capp developed the hillbilly character of L’il Abner, striking a nerve with Depression-era America through his social commentary, mock dialectics and hapless yet lovable Yokum family.

In The Complete L’il Abner, Volume One, the title character moves to New York to live with his rich aunt and has to dodge kidnappers and socialites, alike. Meanwhile, back home in Dogpatch, Marrying Sam works to get Abner and gorgeous Daisy Mae to the altar, while shiftless Hannibal Hoops schemes to split them apart! Then it’s a classic case of mistaken identity when Abner’s evil twin, the ruthless criminal Gat Garson, comes to town.

The Complete L’il Abner, Volume One is published by IDW under its Eisner award-winning imprint, the Library of American Comics. The Complete L’il Abner series is edited and designed by Dean Mullaney, with a biographical essay by Bruce Canwell, and an introduction by Denis Kitchen. Included in the introduction are the proto-Abner “Big Leviticus” strips that Capp created the year before Abner began when he ghosted Joe Palooka for Ham Fisher.

The Complete L’il Abner Volume One ($49.99; 288 pages; hardcover) will be available in stores in April. Diamond order code JAN10 1030; ISBN 978-1600106118.

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