Thursday, September 10, 2015

True Confessions: I think Andy Capp is funny

Growing up, I always enjoyed reading the adventures of Andy Capp. He played snooker and soccer (yeah, he called it football, but I forgave him), he got stinking drunk, he hit on much younger lasses, he was loutish to his wife Flo, but, hey, he was a funny little SOB. Andy was funny in the local paper and in the little paperbacks I'd get from the department store.

One night I was watching "The Simpsons" when a bemused Homer Simpson, his nose in the newspaper, said, "Oh, Andy Capp, you wife-beating drunk." Well, that's a little harsh, I thought. A drunk, sure, but a wife beater? If anything, Flo seemed to be the one throttling him.

Years later, I have accumulated a handful of older little paperbacks collecting Capp strips from the 1960s, and, yeah, Andy slugs Flo quite a bit. Sometimes they both engage in a knockdown, dragout bowl that manifests itself in a big round circle of suiggly lines with a few fists emerging on the periphery. Sometimes Flo does something to Andy. More often, though, it's Andy hitting her or the aftermath, like Flo sitting on her duff after having landed on the street.

The absolute worst ones are the strips in which Andy threatens her by cocking a fist and she cowers and acquiesces to whatever he's on about. Somehow that's even more disturbing than the occasional "BOP!" of his fist hitting her jaw.

Here's the thing, though: As repellent as the notion of domestic violence for laughs is today, it's still cartoony enough that it doesn't bother me enough to put down the book. Yes, some of the menacing ones stick out as discomfiting, but the rest of it still makes me laugh. I still enjoy lazy Andy napping on the sofa, boorish Andy trying to pick up a barmaid, and even thuggish Andy picking fights with bill collectors or opposing rugby players. If it were a real person, the knowledge that he likes to slug his wife would forever tarnish him for me. But in a comic strip, I still enjoy his antics.

Am I a bad person? Or am I a decent bloke?

No comments: