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New Andy Capp Collection Number 1: No. 1 (The Andy Capp Collection)

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Cigarettes and Alcohol: Andy Capp, extensive article about Reg Smythe and the comic strip, at PlanetSlade

I didn’t drink until I’d started doing Andy,” Smythe said. “The family was rather ashamed of me. Everyone else would be having a few pints, and I’d sit there with my tomato juice. You might say I was the white sheep of the family. Whenever this happened (also mainly in the earlier strips), the roles are then reversed, with Andy usually confronting Flo for being late from going to bingo and sometimes striking her with either his fist or chasing her out the door with a push broom or a chair with the intent to clobber her with said object. The miracles,” he elaborated, “were there to get attention. Nobody would’ve taken notice of Jesus Christ had he been an ordinary fellow and not performed his miracles. He cured a blind man—just like that! That’s the sort of thing that attracts attention and gets people interested. And it’s the same with Andy Capp. He attracts your attention with his boozing and all that. Once I cottoned on to this facet of the strip,” he said, “about Andy being the child and Florrie being the mother — I started to draw her in a more buxom and motherly way. I also made Andy a little smaller. I did this deliberately and after a lot of thought. It works more easily for me when the pair look like mother and child. I think I’m right. Andy would be a totally unlikeable brute if he and Florrie had children to look after.” Smythe deliberately didn’t give the Capps children. In childless marriages, he believes, the man becomes the child, and the woman, the mother.

Revel Barker, who worked for the Mirror Group, reported a different origin for Andy: Smythe, he said, “told me the inspiration for the strip was a guy he saw at a Harlepool football match, which he’d attended with his father. It started to rain and the man standing next to him took off his cap and put it inside his coat. Young Reg said, ‘Mister, it’s started to rain.’ The man said he knew that. ‘But—it’s started to rain, and you’ve taken your cap off,’ said the puzzled Reg. The man looked at the youngster as if he was stupid. ‘You don’t think, do you, that I’m going to sit in the house all night wearing a wet cap.’” Reg Smythe died on 13 June 1998, but the original strip has continued. For some time, the writer and artist were uncredited, but in November 2004 the strip began to carry a credit for Roger Mahoney (artist) and Roger Kettle (writer). Circa 2011, Kettle discontinued his work on the strip and was replaced by Lawrence Goldsmith and Sean Garnett, while Mahoney continued to draw. The appearance of the characters did not change perceptibly. He was also the unlikely hero of a 1980s computer game, on Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, in which players had to borrow money to replenish Andy’s alcohol supply while avoiding fights with his wife Flo and the police.

Demobilized in 1946, Smythe returned to Hartlepool, but, unable to find work, he soon left for London. There, after an extended period of unemployment, he found a job at the General Post Office in 1950. He also married Vera Whittaker. Strips into 2021 and beyond only show credits for writers Goldsmith and Garnett and continue the subtly different style.To Americans, judging by the values they say they live by, Andy Capp represents everything they are taught from infancy to eschew energetically wherever possible. He’s an anti-role model. Yet despite his wholly unsavory behavior, he was immediately hugely popular in this country—a roaring success. Perhaps because readers saw him as “getting away with it”—with everything we’re all taught we shouldn’t do. At the height of his popularity, the comic strip equalled Charles Schulz’s Peanuts for global fame, was syndicated to 1,700 newspapers worldwide and translated into 14 different languages. The hilariously workshy northerner from Hartlepool, often seen stumbling home late from the pub, also inspired a West End musical, a TV series starring Likely Lads actor James Bolam and a stage play with Tim Healy. Then I thought about his character,” Smythe continued. “What would he be like? Perhaps he would be dead lumber. The type who is a right little handicap to his wife. Handicap! The word handicap gave rise to a really horrible pun. Handicap? Andy Capp! And I had it.

Said Smythe: “I concocted a letter of reply in which I say that Andy probably raffles his dole money to make the extra cash! It was just the sort of thing the little rascal would do.”Andy and Flo are always on the cusp of poverty. Flo works as a charwoman (cleaning woman), but Andy is unemployed, and their amusements— drinking, playing cards and snooker, and, for Andy, gambling — take more money than they can be presumed to have. Andy borrows from Flo, but they’re still always in arrears on their rent. Readers sometimes write in to ask how Andy and Flo manage it. In 1982, a musical version of Andy Capp opened in Manchester and then went on to play in London’s West End for six or seven months. And a television show began in early 1988 but was soon abandoned. Neither production achieved anything like the success of the comic strip. Why? A statue of Andy Capp was erected in Hartlepool on 28 June 2007. It was sculpted by Jane Robbins. [14] Book collections and reprints [ edit ] United Kingdom [ edit ] Andy's and Flo's best friends are their neighbours Chalkie and Rube White. Chalkie is a hard-drinking working-class type like Andy, who can often be seen sharing a pint with him at the corner pub, but Chalkie seems mellower than Andy, and more tolerant of his wife. Rube is Flo's confidante, and the two often trade gossip over the clothesline about their husbands' latest escapades. The local vicar is also often seen. Andy despairs of his holier-than-thou attitude, as he is constantly criticising Andy for his many bad habits and vice-ridden lifestyle. He often lets his opinion be known to Flo, who agrees with his low assessment of Andy's character.

With his boozy exploits, cheeky humour and expert job dodging, flat-capped legend Andy Capp has been entertaining millions of readers since the 50s. In the comic strip, the magic goes on. Smythe had so thoroughly and profoundly evolved the character of Andy Capp that he lives on without his creator. Like a miracle.The mindset’s exactly the same,” he said. “I can still go down to the Boilermarker’s Club and get two or three ideas just listening to the conversation.” If you take the time to make a study of my characters,” he says, “the character that is nicest and best is Florrie. Why, therefore, am I never accused of being a feminist? She is my creation as well, isn’t she?”

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