Al Capp? Abner Yokum? Mammy Yokum?
Dear Quote Investigator: The comic strip “Li’l Abner” created by Al Capp achieved great popularity in the 1940s and 1950s. The setting was the fictional village of Dogpatch in the Southern United States. Al Capp employed an exaggerated Southern dialect which he spelled phonetically. Teenager Li’l Abner Yokum was the primary character, and his forceful mother was called Mammy Yokum. A homespun motto within the strip contended that good would prevail over evil because it was nicer. Would you please help me to find a citation?
Quote Investigator: The saying appeared in the strip published on March 2, 1950. Li’l Abner was attacked during a battle by an opponent who stared at him malevolently, i.e., employed the “evil eye”. Abner fought back by returning the stare with the “good eye”. The first line below is expressed by Li’l Abner, and the second line is spoken by Mammy Yokum during a flashback scene. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
AH IS G-GITTIN’ TH’ EVIL EYE—BUT GOOD!! WHUT WAS IT MAH MAMMY DONE TOLE ME?
SON!! TH’ ONLY WAY YO’ KIN LICK TH’ EVIL EYE IS WIF TH’ GOOD EYE!! GOOD IS BETTER THAN EVIL, BECAUSE IT’S NICER!!
Here is a version using standard spelling:
Ah is getting the evil eye—but good!! What was it my Mammy done told me?
Son!! The only way you can lick the evil eye is with the good eye!! Good is better than evil, because it’s nicer!!
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.