But one piece from The Encyclopedia that stood out for me was a photo of "Al Capp's Dogpatch Band" in the sidebar on toys based on comic properties. The gadget was a wind-up toy from the mid-1940s featuring characters from Capp's strip, Li'l Abner. The image struck me for two reasons. First, I had never actually seen Li'l Abner anywhere before. It wasn't carried in our local newspapers at the time, and the book didn't show any instances of the strip itself anywhere. I was largely at a loss for what the strip was about. While I was familiar with the Shmoo via some Saturday morning cartoons, that had almost no relation to the strip where the character originated.
The second thing that stood out for me was the complexity of the mechanics. Even though I only had a still picture to look at, it wasn't hard to figure out what the basic movements of the figures were. I realized, even as a kid, that the engineering to tie all of that movement to a single gear was an impressive feat. It was only recently (last night, actually) that it occurred to me that someone might have posted a video of the toy in action, and I could finally see how it operated. It turned out to be even more impressive than I imagined, with some clever use of deliberately loose joints to facilitate even more movement. And seeing (in the above photo) that it came partially disassembled makes it even more impressive still! I can't find out who designed this, but it's a brilliant piece of mechanical engineering and I can't imagine Capp not being absolutely delighted with it!