Chicago Spanking Review

Mammy Yokum Spanks Mimi in Li'l Abner

Somehow when we went over our collection of the Li'l Abner daily strips from 1934 - 1959 looking for spankings, we forgot about this one from the strip's very first year (1934). Then Dave Wolfe posed this question on about a color spanking panel we hadn't seen before. Harry responded with the entire history, which reminded us to trot out our copies of the strips from 1934 which we reproduce below. Following is an excerpt of Harry's remarks:

"Mimi van Pett was the first of the rich New York socialites who regularly tried to inveigle Abner into marriage - he agrees to become engaged to her, not really knowing what it entails, purely to stop her crying. As the story develops, Mammy comes to New York to find Abner and learns that Mimi is making him miserable. He has no way of getting out of it: 'Ef she was a fella,' he says, 'Ah'd smack her, but Ah is putty in the hands of a gal!' So it's up to Mammy to get him out of trouble. Mammy pays a visit to Mimi, who deliberately tries to make herself seem respectable by hiding her 'sophisticated' novels and limiting the amounr of makeup she puts on. Mammy outdoes her in underdressing, checks Mimi's muscles to see if she will be able to do a hillbilly woman's work, insists that Abner and his future wife will have to live in the mountains, and asserts her authority as the matriarch of the family. Then, in the October 27, 1934, installment, she criticizes Mimi's fashionable dress and says she's wearing too much makeup (Mimi thought it was not enough, remember) - she will scare the pigs. That does it for Mimi: 'Stop it! How dare you say that to me!' But Mammy isn't having any of that: 'yo' is jes' a li'l bit too unrespectful,' she says, advancing on Mimi and rolling up her right sleeve. 'Stop looking at me like that!' says Mimi. And in the next panel, Mimi is across Mammy's knee saying 'Yeoww! Help!' as she gets the seat of her sheath dress soundly spanked. 'Quit squallin'!' says Mammy. 'Ef yo' is gonna be a Yokum yo' gotta l'arn t' take it!' Mimi spends the whole of the next episode rubbing her sore bottom - and breaking off her engagement to Abner."

mammy yokum spanks society girl mimi

Li'l Abner daily strip from 10/27/1934 (author's collection). Written and drawn by Al Capp. © Capp Enterprises. Posted by the Web-Ed on 10/08/2010.

after the spanking in lil abner

10/29/1934. © Capp Enterprises.

This is a good after-spanking scene, with plenty of rubbing and even a "Boo-Hoo!" from Mimi. Capp was no spanko (he makes the common compositional error of spanking with the wrong hand), but he got this part right. He was also capable of humorous sexual suggestiveness. Mimi's last name, "Van Pett," is not an accident, and a few years later he would top it with "Appassionata Van Climax," a name he was lucky to get away with. That's why we assert that Capp was not a spanko - if he had wanted to suggest that a spanking was taking place for erotic reasons, he would certainly have done so.

Now let's take a look at that color panel Dave Wolfe brought up, alongside the original:

the original version of the spanking panel

The original from 1934. © Capp Enterprises.

capp's version of the spanking for life magazine

Redone version from 1957 for Life magazine. © Capp Enterprises.

Here again to give us the lowdown is Harry:

"Forward now to 1957. The Li'l Abner musical had just opened on Broadway, and Life magazine commissioned Al Capp to illustrate a biography of the hero for a retrospective feature on the strip in its January 14 issue. One of the incidents he selected was the Mimi van Pett story - redrawn in updated style with contemporary clothing for Mimi, who has now become a blonde. One thing that is really noticeable is how caricatured Mammy has become, which jars a bit with the relatively realistic depiction of Mimi. But of course the big, welcome change is that this time Mimi gets spanked on her panties. I guess Capp had to do something to make the spanking seem an uncommonly outrageous indignity - by this time the idea of spanking a rich socialite was a cliche, whereas it had been fairly new and sophisticated comedy in the 1930s. (Think of, for example, William Powell's threat to spank Gail Patrick in the 1936 version of My Man Godfrey.)"

"The spot color is in the original Life magazine printing, and I think it really adds something: a white panty spanking is all the more powerful if there's a clear contrast with the girl's pink legs."

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