Paddle Away From Lena

KU Delt pledges dubbed Lena the Hyena as Queen of their Paddle Party in 1946, the same year cartoonist Al Capp Capp introduced Lena as the “ugliest woman in the world.” So hideous that Capp could not bear to render her, he enlisted his readers (in 381 newspapers where his L’il Abner comic strip was seen) to send in their drawing of what they thought Lena looked like. Over 500,000 readers responded. Al Capp persuaded Boris Karloff, Salvador Dali and Frank Sinatra to judge the drawing and the winner was the cartoonist Basil Wolverton. His rendering is what you see above. (

Personally, I think his grotesque work looks like he was on an endless bad acid trip, but it takes all kinds of artists, and to each his own. Below are tame examples of his other renderings and styles.

8 thoughts on “Paddle Away From Lena”

  1. Al Capp, if I recall correctly, Kerbey, used to pen a comic strip title Lil Abner. It’s interesting how insulting I find everything about his Lena the Hyena contest right now. I wonder if I would have felt the same way when I was reading Lil Abner as a kid, or if I have grown mightily with the times.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think we have grown along with the times. Yesterday I was looking at old comic strips and felt Disturbed by stuff in Beetle Bailey that never would have made me blink back then.


  2. Grotesque looking creature to say the least. It is probably mysoginistic to create a Lena but beauty contests in general can be consideres mysoginistic. Lena was created as an anti beauty contest queen so maybe Mr Capp was protesting that whole structure. Or maybe he was just a bitter and angry vet that never fully adjusted after the war and it affected his “humor”. In either event what does a Paddle Queen do? Swat pledges?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good question. And of course, all the yearbooks have beauty contests–and women who want to win them! I take no issue with that. I just don’t like his style bc it creeps me out. Honestly, I had never heard of Lena before and just thought those students drew her before I looked into it.

      Liked by 1 person

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