On Strips: Andy Capp

By | Friday, April 29, 2016 1 comment
Why is Andy Capp syndicated in the United States? I don't mean that in a disparaging way; I find it one of the more consistently entertaining modern newspaper comics. Particularly for a legacy strip (original creator Reg Smythe died in 1998) that was originally rooted in a different era (it debuted in 1957).
But it's a British strip. The humor is frequently uniquely British, and the culture it depicts is not one seen very often in the States. British humor imports aren't unheard of here, of course. Witness Monty Python, Benny Hill, Eddie Izzard, The Office, Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson, The Young Ones, etc. And British comics aren't uncommon either. Miracleman, Judge Dredd, Grant Morrison, Alan Davis, etc.

But how many other British comic strips have made it into American newspapers? Only one other one I can find: Fred Basset. That one has more of a generalized style and tone that doesn't scream "Hey, this is British!" (I didn't realize it was an import until writing this piece in fact) so I can see how it might get slid in with Born Loser or The Lockhorns.

But Andy Capp? What American editor saw that and said, "Yup, that's a comic that will resonate with the American public"? I mean, yes, Great Britain and the United States have some shared cultural heritage, and we've been trading artists, writers, musicians, and other creative types across the pond for generations. But The Beatles didn't appeal to everyone. 2000AD doesn't appeal to everyone. Danger Mouse doesn't appeal to everyone. Most of the time, when we brought British art to the US, it was for a decidedly limited market. But Andy Capp was put into newspapers, the original medium of the masses.

I'm grateful, of course. As I said, I've enjoyed the strip for many years. But it seems a strange thing to have made it in American syndication. Like trying to figure out why Zippy the Pinhead is in newspapers, you know?
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It's published in the Philippines too - even more incongruous.