Best 1948 Adventures (4)
July 8, 2018
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1948 adventure novels. Happy 70th anniversary!
Al Capp’s satirical Li’l Abner adventure The Life and Times of the Shmoo.
Following a musical sound into the forbidden “Valley of the Shmoon,” Li’l Abner — the naïve, sweet-natured titular hillbilly protagonist of Al Capp’s long-running (1934–1977) newspaper comic strip — discovers a lost species, the Shmoo! Though warned by their keeper that the gentle and frolicsome Shmoos, which multiply exponentially, taste delicious (and love to be eaten), lay eggs and milk, and can be used for clothing, are a menace to humanity, Li’l Abner introduces the creatures to the world. An economic collapse results, since people no longer need to purchase food or clothing, or entertainment (they love watching the Shmoos frolic). J. Roaringham Fatback, the “Pork King,” orders a violent extermination campaign. Will Li’l Abner be able to rescue the Shmoos, or will greed and corruption triumph?
Fun facts: The Shmoo sequence appeared in newspapers during 1948; and that same year, The Life and Times of the Shmoo was released as a paperback. It’s been called the first cartoon book to achieve serious literary attention; it sold 700,000 copies in its first year. Shmoos were a huge pop culture phenomenon, spawning songs, dances, apparel, and endless tchotchkes, from dolls and games to jewelry and fountain pens.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.