Andy Capp is an English comic strip created by cartoonist Reg Smythe, seen in The Daily Mirror and The Sunday Mirror newspapers since 5 August 1957. Originally a single-panel cartoon, it was later expanded to four panels.
Andy and Flo
|Launch date||5 August 1957|
|Syndicate(s)||Publishers-Hall Syndicate (1957–1975)|
Field Newspaper Syndicate / News America Syndicate (1975–c. 1987)
Creators Syndicate (c. 1987–present)
Characters and story
- Andy (short for "Andrew") Capp
- Florrie "Flo" Capp (named after Florence Nightingale)
- Chalkie White
- Ruby "Rube" White
- Percy Ritson, the rent collector
- Jackie the barman
- The Vicar
- Flo's Mum (never seen)
- Minor characters include various constables, barmaids, barmen, referees, footballers, pub locals, door-to-door salesmen, and Guitar Bob.
Andy is a working-class figure who never actually works, living in Hartlepool, a harbour town in County Durham, in northeast England. The title of the strip is a pun on the local pronunciation of "handicap"; and the surname "Capp" signifies how Andy's cap always covered his eyes along with, metaphorically, his vision in life.
Andy's hobbies include pigeon racing, darts, snooker (his cue's name is "Delilah"), playing football (which always involves fights with the other players, and frequently ends with Andy being sent off), occasional cricket and rugby, betting on horses, getting drunk in the local pub (often falling into the canal and being fished out by a constable, and always, seven nights a week, arriving home late as a result), ending up in the local jail, fishing (and not catching anything bigger than a goldfish), unsuccessfully mooching money from everyone for beer, unsuccessfully flirting with barmaids (also yelling at them when he is not served), picking up other bargirls, loafing on the sofa, and fighting with his long-suffering wife Florrie (also known as "Flo").
Andy's iconic checked cap is always pulled down over his eyes, even when he is napping or bathing. He is often unshaven, frequently intoxicated (indicated by a prominent red nose and dishevelled clothing), lazy, freeloading, belligerent, and confrontational, but just as frequently lovable (he always refers to Flo as "pet", and will instantly "bop" anyone who dares to be rude to her). Until the 1980s he was often seen with a cigarette dangling from his lip. When Andy gave up smoking in 1983 some readers blamed political correctness. However, Fergus McKenna, head of syndication at Trinity Mirror which publishes the Daily Mirror, denied that the newspaper had put pressure on Smythe to change Andy's habits, saying: "The truth is that Reg himself gave up smoking and he said there was no way Andy was going to carry on enjoying cigarettes when Reg couldn't". Similarly, Andy no longer beats his wife, because of concerns about the depiction of domestic violence; instead, Andy and Florrie now attend marriage counselling.
Andy and Florrie are always on the verge of poverty. Although Flo works regularly as a charwoman, Andy is unemployed and lacks motivation. Rent on their terraced house and its contents is constantly in arrears, and the rent collector, Percy Ritson, despairs of ever being paid. Their furniture has been repossessed on several occasions. Somehow they always manage to retrieve it, and Andy is always able to afford beer and gambling money, usually by borrowing from Florrie. The "Rose and Crown" barman, Jackie, is regularly seen as well. (Andy also frequents "The Pig and Whistle" and "The Jolly Riveters".) Almost all the characters occasionally "break the fourth wall" by delivering asides directly to the reader, or even as a very terse 'thought bubble', usually referring to Andy's low character. The 24 October 1972 strip revealed that Andy once worked as a sign painter, but had not worked at that trade (or any other) for many years. Should anyone suggest he get one, his response is always very terse and along the lines of 'Don't be so ridiculous!' On more than one occasion, it was mentioned that Andy had served in the Royal Air Force. According to Don Markstein,
Early on, the Andy Capp strip was accused of perpetuating stereotypes about Britain's Northerners, who are seen in other parts of England as chronically unemployed, dividing their time between the living room couch and the neighbourhood pub, with a few hours set aside for fistfights at football games ... But Smythe, himself a native of that region, had nothing but affection for his good-for-nothing protagonist, which showed in his work. Since the very beginning, Andy has been immensely popular among the people he supposedly skewers.
The strip takes place almost exclusively in one of three locations: the pub, the street, or inside the Capps' residence at 37 Durham Street (generally with Andy on the couch and Florrie yelling from the next room). Less-frequently visited places include the racetrack (although Andy frequently bets by listening to the radio, thus saving him the trip), the marriage counsellor, and the football pitch (where Andy is either fighting, quarrelling, being sent off, or carried off on a stretcher).
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.
At times, Flo will forcibly remove Andy from the pub when she feels he has been there for far too long (even at times, missing his tea meal). When he comes home, especially in the earlier strips, Flo often confronted him about his doings, sometimes striking him. However, Flo is not without her own vices. She (along with Rube) goes to Bingo as often and with as much frequency as Andy goes to the pub. Whenever this happened (also mainly in the earlier strips), the roles are reversed, with Andy usually confronting Flo for being late and sometimes striking her. Flo is also not a good cook, regularly ruining the meals with her lack of ability.
Flo's mother, an unseen character whose dialogue appears from out of frame, often chimes into the conversation, mostly with sarcastic criticism of her son-in-law. Flo's "mam", whom Andy addresses only as "Missus", is often the subject of Andy's pointed barbs about her weight and less-than-sunny disposition, but she has been known to give as good as she gets. Andy's mother was similarly mentioned and also delivered dialogue from offstage, but her "appearances" were cut back significantly as the years passed. Andy's father has also been mentioned. Flo has an older sister named Polly who is seen once, and never-seen brother. Andy had a pet whippet, Nancy, and has always kept pigeons.
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 continues to draw. The appearance of the characters has not changed perceptibly since Smythe's death.
In May 2012, Andy Capp (as well as Flo, Chalkie White, the Vicar, and Jackie the Barman) appeared as an animated series for the first time in promotional material for The Trinity Mirror-owned MirrorBingo.com website. The animation was created by Teesside-born Chris Hunneysett, who drew from his own background to place Andy Capp in Middlesbrough. Andy Capp had previously appeared in animated form in television adverts for the Post Office (1986) and Kit Kat (1991).
Smythe received the National Cartoonists Society's Humor Comic Strip Award for the strip in 1974.
A statue of Andy Capp was erected in Hartlepool on 28 June 2007. It was sculpted by Jane Robbins.
Book collections and reprints
(All titles by Reg Smythe. Published by Daily Mirror Books/Mirror Group Publishers unless otherwise noted)
- The Andy Capp Book (No. 1) (1958)
- Andy Capp Spring Tonic (No. 2) (1959)
- Life with Andy Capp (No. 3) (1959)
- The Andy Capp Spring Collection (No. 4) (1960)
- The Best of Andy Capp (No. 5) (1960)
- Laugh with Andy Capp (No. 6) (1961)
- The World of Andy Capp (No. 7) (1961)
- More Andy Capp (No. 8) (1962)
- Andy Capp (No. 9)
- Andy Capp Picks His Favourites (No. 10) (1963)
- Happy Days with Andy Capp (No. 11) (1963)
- Laugh at Life with Andy Capp (No. 12) (1964)
- Andy Capp and Florrie (No. 13) (1964)
- All the Best from Andy Capp (No. 14) (1965)
- Andy Capp (Nos. 15–20) (1965–1968)
- The Cream of Andy Capp (1965) First hardcover collection
- Andy Capp: His 21st Book (1968)
- Andy Capp (Nos. 22–46) (1969–1982)
- Laugh Again with Andy Capp – 23 volumes (1968–1980)
- The World of Andy Capp – 16 volumes (1981–1995)
- The World of Andy Capp (1990) Titan
- Andy Capp in Colour: After a Few (1992) Ravette
- Andy Capp in Colour: Don’t Wait Up (1992) Ravette
- Andy Capp in Colour: On Cue (1993) Ravette
- Andy Capp in Colour: A Barrel of Laughs (1993) Ravette
- Andy Capp Through the Ages: 1957–2000 (2000) Syndication International
- The New Andy Capp Collection Number 1 (2004) David and Charles Books
- The New Andy Capp Collection Number 2 (2005) David and Charles Books
- Andy Capp at 50 (2006) David and Charles Books
- Andy Capp Annual 2011 (2010) Titan
- Andy Capp, Man of the Moment! (1977) Mirror Books
- Down the Hatch, Andy Capp! (1977) Mirror Books
- Who's Buying, Andy Capp? (1977) Mirror Books
- You’re a Winner, Andy Capp! (1977) Mirror Books
- Lots More Andy Capp (1980) Castle Books
- Amazing Andy Capp (1981) Castle
- Everlovin' Andy Capp (1981) Castle
- This Is Your Life, Andy Capp! (1981) Castle
- Leave 'Em Laughing, Andy Capp (1982) Castle
- Flo & Andy at It Again (1982) Castle
- You Little Beauty, Andy Capp (1982) Castle
- The Incredible Andy Capp (1982) Castle
- We Still Luv You, Andy Capp (1982) Castle
- Howzat! Andy Capp (1983) Castle
- Laugh at Life with Andy Capp (1983) Castle
- Big Mouth Andy Capp (1983) Castle
- Summer Fun with Andy Capp (1983) Castle
- Amorous Andy Capp (1983) Castle
- Good Sport Andy Capp (1983) Castle
- Raging Andy Capp (1984) Castle
- I Can’t Stand Andy Capp! (1984) Castle
- It's a Hard Life, Andy Capp (1984) Castle
- Romantic Andy Capp (1984) Horwitz Grahame Books
- Strike Again, Andy Capp! (1984) HGB
- The New Image Andy Capp (1984) HGB
- Nobody's Perfect, Andy Capp (1985) HGB
- Down Another, Andy Capp (1986) HGB
- The Laid Back Andy Capp (1986) HGB
- The Andy and Flo Show (1987) HGB
- Educating Andy Capp (1987) HGB
- The Liberated Andy Capp (1985) HGB
- You’re Fine 'n Dandy, Andy Capp (1987) Budget Books
- Sporting Life of Andy Capp (1987) Budget Books
- Up the Pub with Andy Capp (1987) Budget Books
- Andy Capp: After Hours (1987) Budget Books
- Andy Capp: Home Sweet Home (1987) Budget Books
- Andy Capp: A Look Inside (1987) Budget Books
- Outrageous Andy Capp (1987) HGB
- The Return of Andy Capp (1988) HGB
- The Trivial Pursuit of Andy Capp (1988) HGB
- Good Morning, Andy Capp (1988) HGB
- Trouble in Paradise with Andy Capp (1988) HGB
- On the Run with Andy Capp (1989) HGB
- Taking It Easy with Andy Capp (1989) HGB
- Late Again, Andy Capp (1989) HGB
- Bounce Back with Andy Capp (1990) HGB
- Help Yourself, Andy Capp (1990) HGB
In 1981 a stage musical based on the strip had a short run at London's Aldwych Theatre, with songs by Alan Price and Trevor Peacock, starring Tom Courtenay as Andy and Val McLane as Florrie. The stage show also produced an original West End cast recording, released on LP record by Key Records in 1982. The musical was reprised in 2016 at the Finborough Theatre in London, with Roger Alborough portraying Andy.
An attempt to transfer Andy Capp to television in 1988 met with little success. The well-known British character actor James Bolam played Andy on ITV. The Thames Television series consisted of six episodes that were shown once and have never been repeated. The series was poorly received and attracted some criticism for the way it played up to supposed stereotypes of Northern working class men. In 2012 the series was released on DVD (Region 2) in the UK, licensed by Fremantle Media Ltd to the Network Label (VFD64669 / Network 7953656).
When the children's comic Buster was launched in 1960, its masthead character was entitled "Buster: Son of Andy Capp". Buster wore a cloth cap similar to Andy's until 1992, but the connection was not recognised in the parent strip and had limited development in the children's comic. Buster often referred to his father, and Andy was seen in the comic attempting to find a gas leak in three frames of the 18 June 1960 strip. He was also shown in two drawn photographs in the 2 July 1960 issue, the first of which was displayed by Buster's mum with the pronouncement "It's a photo of Buster taken with Andy! You can see he's got his dad's fine straight nose". Buster's mum was often referred to by name and was consistently drawn to resemble Andy's wife Flo.
- Maley, Don. "Super Roads to Riches are Paved with Comics," Editor & Publisher (30 Nov 1968). Archived at Stripper's Guide. Accessed 12 November 2018.
- Storch, Charles. "Hearst To Buy Murdoch Syndicate," Chicago Tribune (25 December 1986).
- Victor E. Neuburg (1983). The Popular Press Companion to Popular Literature. Popular Press. pp. 20–21. ISBN 978-0-87972-233-3.
- ""Make your choice, Andrew - me or your pigeons!"". The British Cartoon Archive - University of Kent. Archived from the original on 16 April 2014. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- "July 6, 2014 strip". Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Andy Capp free online comic strip library at gocomics.com, Retrieved on 23 June 2016.
- His preferred cell is # 302! (Andy Capp 6 March 1971)
- Leatherdale, Duncan (23 March 2016). "The mirth and misogyny of Andy Capp". BBC Online. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
- see: Andy Capp Sounds Off, Fawcett, 1966, where the back of the book advert reads: "Sound Off! Beat Your Wife! Drink Up! But First Buy The Book!"
- Andy Capp at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012.
- "September 7, 2016 strip". Retrieved 7 September 2016.
- Blystone, Richard (3 April 1977). "Cartoon Famous, Creator Isn't". The Evening News. Newburgh, NY. Associated Press. p. B1. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
- "Home town gains Andy Capp statue". BBC News - UK - England - Tees. 28 June 2007. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
- Andy Capp Gallery at TonyStrading.co.uk
- Shenton, Mark (9 February 2016). "Andy Capp the Musical review at Finborough Theatre, London – 'utterly charming'". The Stage. London. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
- Andy Capp, British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent
- Daily Andy Capp comics at Creators Syndicate
- Daily Andy Capp comics at GoComics
- Andy's Facebook Page
- "A comic-hero on his way through Europe" in Nürnberger Nachrichten (newspaper), about Ultras Nürnberg's mascot "Jacky" (=Andy) (in German)
- Cigarettes and Alcohol: Andy Capp, extensive article about Reg Smythe and the comic strip, at PlanetSlade