Archive | Gasoline Alley

It All “Ad”s Up

We sometimes have more artwork and photos than we can squeeze into the text features of our books. We’re just putting a wrap on Steve Canyon Volume 7, for example, and we have such an abundance of 1959-60 riches related to Milton Caniff and his creation that we’ll likely do a feature in this space showcasing some of the artifacts that didn’t make the cut as the book gets closer to its on-sale date.

Sifting through the files I’ve amassed related to a couple other recent books, I saw some newspaper promotional ads that we didn’t use. Here’s a “Kigmy”-related ad supporting Li’l Abner, circa 1949:

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And from that same year, an ad that does double duty, both as a promotion for Abner and as a contest pushing Proctor & Gamble products:

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I’m also partial to this 1933 ad for Tim Tyler’s Luck that we found while preparing our jumbo-sized LOAC Essentials/King Features Essentials Volume 2 devoted to Alex Raymond’s brief-but-memorable stint on that series.

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Seeing those items, and given my own soft spot for this type of material, I thought I’d sift through a batch of newspapers and see what other comic strip promotional ads I could find. The earliest one I located was from the year of the stock market crash, 1929, and is hyping Percy Crosby’s delightful and influential kids strip, Skippy:

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Fans of Gasoline Alley (myself included) may get a kick out of this 1930 advertisement, suggesting readers send in their summertime addresses and get the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette delivered while on vacation in order to stay current with events in the Wallet household:

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And I was delighted to find this 1934 ad from the Asheville, North Carolina Citizen as the paper prepared to bring Little Orphan Annie into its lineup of daily comics. The ad symbolically reminds readers how “Daddy” Warbucks’s red-haired charge typically ends up in hot water :

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Not every ad was as elaborate as the Annie, of course. In 1940, when this ad promoting the Golden Age Superman was appearing in client newspapers across America, The Man of Tomorrow was scarcely two years old. How many readers in 1940 could have imagined the strange visitor from planet Krypton would still be entertaining millions, more than seventy-five years after this modest advertisement saw print?

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The sophistication and graceful action shown in this 1952 ad for Rip Kirby strikes me as resonating very closely with what Alex Raymond was presenting on the comics page as he chronicled the adventures of the ’50’s first modern detective:

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One of the strips I always enjoyed as a youngster was Andy Capp. I liked the “Englishness” of his world, its rough-and-tumble nature, and I’m heartened that Andy has successfully continued his visits to the local more than a decade after his creator’s death (Reg Smythe passed away in 1998). The copy in this 1967 ad from the Pittsburgh Press certainly reflects the tenor of those “Swingin’ Sixties” times, doesn’t it?

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Finally, here’s a March, 1971 ad for Doonesbury, only five months into its existence. It serves as a reminder of how the art style, themes, and characters in this sprawling, sometimes controversial, sometimes powerful, always-worth-reading strip have changed!

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Keep watching this space, because we’ll be back soon with, as the Monty Python troupe used to say, “something completely different” …

Down to Gasoline Alley, where I was born

Over at the Comics Journal, Dan Nadel starts his review of our first volume of Dick Moores’sGasoline Alley with: “Seeing this artist’s work for the first time in 25 or so years has been delightful.”

It only gets better from there. Read the entire review here.GasolineAlley1_PR

Dick Moores, Master Cartoonist

I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t love Dick Moores’s delightful and charming art and stories inGasoline Alley. His long run on the strip is one of those few cases in which the cartoonist taking over from the original creator actually improves the creation.

Frank King first met Dick Moores in Chicago in the 1930s, when Moores was Chester Gould’s assistant (and letterer); the two then shared a studio while Moores was drawing the adventure strip Jim Hardy. By the early 1940s Moores was in Southern California drawing exclusively for Disney. His much-admired work at that company includes inks on Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse, art on the Brer Rabbit and Scamp Sunday pages, and many, many great efforts in Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, some of which he was allowed to write as well as illustrate.

By the mid-50s, Frank King was looking for an assistant who could eventually take over the daily strip (Bill Perry had been doing the Sundays since 1951) and remembered his old colleague from Chicago. Moores left Disney and moved to Florida in 1956 to assist on Gasoline Alley.

There’s no hard evidence that indicates when Moores took over full responsibility of the Gasoline Alley daily, but our friend Jeet Heer, who co-edits the magnificent Walt & Skeezix series reprinting the early Frank King dailies, tells me that it was most likely in 1960, although King may have continued suggesting story ideas until 1964 when Moores was given a byline, sharing it with King until the elder cartoonist’s death in 1969.

This is all a preamble to announcing that we’re very happy to bring Dick Moores’s fantasticGasoline Alley strips from 1964-66 back to print. Both we and our friends at Drawn & Quarterly think it makes a nice bookend to the early Frank King dailies.

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Frank King in a 1964 interview announcing Dick Moores’s byline.

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A promo piece to celebrate Skeezix’s 40th birthday!

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Three strips from the beginning of 1964 that feature lamps designed by Clovia and Slim. (Click for larger view.)

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A publicity photo of King and Moores holding the self-same custom-made lamps!promo2

Above: A later Moores promo drawing (note Nina at left). Below: a past-over head for the final version.

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And a wonderful piece of art by Dick Moores, which we’ve used for our cover.

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