Abbie an' Slats, by Raeburn Van Buren
Strip run: 1937 - 1971
With the success of Li'l Abner, Al Capp wanted to do a straight story strip with action, humor, and emotion combined. He wrote up several weeks of stories and asked Raeburn Van Buren, an established magazine illustrator, to do the art. Although Van Buren rejected the idea at first, Capp persisted and eventually prevailed, and thus was born Abbie an' Slats, which debuted as a daily on July 7, 1937. The story centered around Aubrey Eustace Scrapple (aka "Slats"), a tough kid orphaned in New York moving from the city slums to a small town called Crabtree Corners, to live with his older cousin Abigail "Abbie" Scrapple and her sister Sally. Other memorable characters in Slats' life were his love interest Becky Groggins, Becky's father John Pierpont "Bathless" Groggins, and Slats' enemy Jasper Hagstone. The first Sunday appeared on January 15, 1939, and quickly became focused mainly on the exploits of Bathless Groggins.
In 1946 Al Capp's younger brother, Elliot Caplin, took over the writing of the strip. Those were big shoes to fill, but Elliot did a respectable job and did some beautiful soap opera-esque storytelling of his own. In the 1960s the popularity of the strip steadily declined, and Van Buren decided to stop doing the strip. The last daily appeared on January 30, 1971, with the Sunday page ending a few months later in July. Raeburn Van Buren passed away on December 29, 1987, two weeks short of his 97th birthday.
Check out some great Abbie an' Slats art below!
Example of "Abbie an' Slats" Sunday by Raeburn Van Buren, February 26, 1961. Copyright United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
Example of "Abbie an' Slats" Sunday by Raeburn Van Buren, January 26, 1964. Copyright United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
Example of "Abbie an' Slats" daily by Raeburn Van Buren, September 7, 1967. Copyright United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
Here's a very interesting item. It's an original signed letter from Abigail Van Buren of Dear Abby fame, written to Raeburn Van Buren, the artist of Abbie an' Slats. Dated November 30, 1984. Interesting content. Very unique item, and an interesting piece of history.
Inscribed print of Becky Groggins by Raeburn Van Buren. The inscription is original, but the art and signature are printed. This rendition of Becky is beautiful.
Check out some scans of the Abbie an' Slats comic strips at the I Love Comix Abbie an' Slats online viewable archive (be prepared, though, to hear some old-time radio playing in the background as you check out the site; it's actually kind of cool).
For some additional information on Abbie an' Slats, visit the entry for the strip at Don Markstein's Toonopedia.
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