Lower Slobbovia (also sometimes called Outer, Inner, Central, Upper or Lowest Slobbovia) is a term used in conversation to denote a place which is underdeveloped, socially backward, remote, impoverished or unenlightened. First coined by Al Capp in 1946, the term has also been used by Americans to refer in an informal way to any foreign country of no particular distinction.
The term was created by cartoonist Al Capp to refer to a setting in his classic hillbilly comic strip, Li'l Abner (1934–1977). Making its first appearance on April 4, 1946, frigid, faraway Lower Slobbovia was fashioned as a pointedly political satire of backward nations and foreign diplomacy. The term, having entered the language, remains a contemporary reference.
In Li'l Abner, the hapless residents of Lower Slobbovia were perpetually waist-deep in snow, and icicles hung from every frostbitten nose. The favorite dish of the starving natives was raw polar bear (and vice versa). Lower Slobbovians spoke with burlesque pidgin-Russian accents; the miserable frozen wasteland of Capp's invention abounded in incongruous Yiddish humor. General Bullmoose or Senator Jack S. Phogbound—Capp's caricatures of ruthless business interests and corrupt political interests, respectively—were often pitted against those of the pathetic Lower Slobbovians in a classic mismatch of haves versus have-nots.
Capp conceived Slobbovia as a large iceberg. As real icebergs at intervals have their larger subsea components erode away, causing genuine icebergs to invert, so Slobbovia periodically overturned, making Upper Slobbovia into Lower Slobbovia & vice versa. Upper Slobbovia was the only ecosystem of the Schmeagles, birds who flew so fast they could not be seen.
Conceptually based on Siberia, or perhaps specifically on Birobidzhan, Capp's icy hellhole was ruled by King Stubbornovsky the Last (a.k.a. Good King Nogoodnik). The Slobbovian politicians were even more corrupt than their Dogpatch counterparts. Their monetary unit was the "Rasbucknik", of which one was worth nothing, and a large quantity was worth even less, due to the trouble of lugging them around. Conditions couldn't be worse, as tourists were readily assured by the miserable, highly vocal residents.
Besides biting political satire, Capp employed black humor, irony, social commentary, parody and slapstick in his Slobbovia stories; the series featured many memorable moments over the years. Lena the Hyena was a resident of Lower Slobbovia, as was Slobbovian correspondent Quentin Rasputinreynolds (a parody of World War II journalist Quentin Reynolds). The local children were read harrowing tales from Ice-sop's Fables, which were parodies of classic literary fables (with titles like "Goldilocks and the Three Bares" and "Liddle Blue Ridink Hood"), but with a darkly sardonic twist.
Liddle Noodnik, a local waif, was frequently employed to recite a farcical poem of greeting to visiting dignitaries, or sing the absurd Slobbovian national anthem:
We are citizens of Slobbovia
(Oh, that this should be happening to us!)
We are giving you back to the Indians
(But they are refusing, of cuss!)
PTUI on you, Slobbovia!
We are hating your icebound coast
Of all the countries in the world
WE ARE HATING SLOBBOVIA MOST!!
- "Biography" of Lower Slobbovia
- Escape From Utopia - TIME Oct. 7, 1946
- Baker, Russell (1996-01-13). "Hillary in Lower Slobbovia - ''NY Times'' Jan. 13, 1996". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-29.