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The early years were dominated by the character Walt Wallet. Tribune editor Joseph Patterson wanted to attract women to the strip by introducing a baby, but Walt was not married. That obstacle was avoided when Walt found a baby on his doorstep, as described by comics historian Don Markstein :. After a couple of years, the Tribune' s editor, Captain Joseph Patterson, whose influence would later have profound effects on such strips as Terry and the Pirates and Little Orphan Anniedecided the strip should have something to appeal to women, as well, and suggested King add a baby.
Only problem was the main character, Walt Wallet, was a confirmed bachelor. On February 14,Walt found the necessary baby abandoned on his doorstep. That was the day Gasoline Alley entered history as the first comic strip in which the characters aged normally.
Hairbreadth Harry had grown up in his strip, but stopped aging in his early 20s. The baby, named Skeezix cowboy slang for a motherless calfgrew up, fought in World War II, and is now a retired grandfather. Walt married after all, and had more children, who had children of their own. More characters entered the storyline on the periphery and some grew to occupy center stage. Skeezix called his adoptive father Uncle Walt. Unlike most comic strip children like the Katzenjammer Kids or Little Orphan Anniehe did not remain a baby or even a little boy for long.
He grew up to manhood, the first occasion where real time was shown continually elapsing in a major comic strip over generations. He later married Nina and had children. In the late s, he faced a typical midlife crisis. Walt Wallet himself married Phyllis Blossom on June 24, and had other children, who grew up and had kids of their own. During the s and s, under Dick Moores ' authorship, the characters briefly stopped Gasoline Alley.
When Jim Scancarelli took over, natural aging was restored. The Sunday strip was launched October 24, The s Sunday pages did not always employ traditional gags, but often offered a gentle view of nature, imaginary daydreaming with expressive art, or naturalistic views of small-town life.
Unlike the daily strips, which traced narratives that went on for many months, the Sunday pages almost always worked as discrete units," Heer writes. It is in his Sunday pages that Gasoline Alley find King showing his visual storytelling skills at their most developed: with sequences beautifully testifying to his love of nature, his feeling for artistic form, and his deeply felt response to life. The strip is still published in newspapers in the 21st century.
Walt Wallet is now well over a century oldas of April Gasoline Alley, while Skeezix has become a nonagenarian. Walt's wife Phyllis, age an estimateddied in the April 26,strip; Walt was left a widower after nearly eight decades of marriage. Snuffy Smith presented a character crossover with Walt in the doorway of Snuffy's house where he was being welcomed and invited in by Snuffy.
Even the active cartoon character Rex Morgan, M. King was succeeded by his former assistants, with Bill Perry taking responsibility for Sunday strips in and Dick Moores, first hired inbecoming sole writer and artist for the daily strip in When Perry retired inMoores took over the Sunday strips, as well, combining the daily and Sunday stories into one continuity starting September 28, Moores died inand since then, Gasoline Alley has been written and drawn by Scancarelli, former assistant to Moores.
Scancarelli returned to done-in-one separate situations for the Sunday strip. The strip and King were recognized with the National Cartoonists Society 's Humor Strip Award in,and King received the Society's Reuben Awardand Moores received it in The strip received an NCS plaque for the year's best story strip inand Moores' dailies and Sundays have appeared in Comics Revue monthly, as have the first Scancarelli strips.
Inthe strip was one of 20 included in the Comic Strip Classics series of commemorative US postage stamps. InSpec Productions began a series of softcover collections, Frank King's Gasoline Alley Nostalgia Journalreprinting the strip from the first Rectangle panel November 24, To date, four volumes have appeared:.
Inthe first of a series of reprint books, Walt and Skeezixwas published by Drawn and Quarterlyedited by Chris Ware and included contributions by Jeet Heer. The first volume covers —22, beginning several weeks before baby Skeezix appears. These reprint only the daily strips, with Sundays slated to appear in another series: .
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