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Walt Before Skeezix (Walt and Skeezix) by…
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Walt Before Skeezix (Walt and Skeezix)

by Frank King

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When one of my favorite strips ever got the "complete" re-publication treatment a few years ago, I noted with some disappointment that as ecstatic as I was, Drawn and Quarterly chose to start the strip run with 1921, the year that transformed the strip with Walt Wallet discovering the infant Skeezix in a basket on his front doorstep. Overlooked were the actual first two years of the strip, late 1918 through 1920. There must have been a groundswelling of similar reactions from readers, because the publishers have now rectified that omission.

"Gasoline Alley" began as a one-panel strip about the denizens of the Alley, where the men would house their beloved automobiles in garages and give them the daily loving care that was required in those early motoring days. It took a few months, but the Gasoline Alley gang eventually settled down to the familiar characters of the later strips in which Skeezix appeared. Nearly all the strips here centered around two passions of the day: cars and golf. Even here, though, Frank King showed glimpses of the genius he would display later as the creator of one of the longest and most moving, gently humorous family strips ever done. At this point, "Gasoline Alley" is a very well-done strip about cars, golf, and the men and their families who make up the immediate neighborhood. Even if Skeezix had never appeared, this would still have been a very well-received and critiqued strip. But that event, of course, changed the face of "Gasoline Alley" and, to an extent, of American comic strips in general. ( )
  burnit99 | Aug 6, 2014 |
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