Walt and Skeezix, Volume One: 1921-1922
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Walt and Skeezix, Volume One: 1921-1922

by Frank King
     
 

Walt & Skeezix is the first-ever collection of the classic twentieth-century newspaper strip Gasoline Alley, and Book One is the beginning of a handsome multivolume series edited and designed by comics virtuoso Chris Ware

Chris Ware has often cited Gasoline Alley as one of his favorite comic strips ever, and he has lovingly

Overview

Walt & Skeezix is the first-ever collection of the classic twentieth-century newspaper strip Gasoline Alley, and Book One is the beginning of a handsome multivolume series edited and designed by comics virtuoso Chris Ware

Chris Ware has often cited Gasoline Alley as one of his favorite comic strips ever, and he has lovingly edited and designed Walt & Skeezix: Book One, the first-ever collection of the classic newspaper strip created by one of the pioneering giants of American comic strips, Frank King. Not only does this volume reprint the first two years of the strip in which King's friendly and nostalgic imagination took shape but each book in the series features an eighty-page color introduction by Jeet Heer of Canada's National Post. Each introduction will also feature never-before-seen archival photos and ephemera from the personal collection of King's granddaughter. Walt & Skeezix is not just a collection of a classic comic strip-it is the story of a great American cartoonist.

Few cartoon strips have this kind of longevity and quality; Gasoline Alley has been with us since 1919 and is a gentle mirror held up to ordinary American life in the early twentieth century. It started as a mild satire on the post-WWI "craze" for cars, but it wasn't long before it developed into a quirky family story attracting an audience of more than thirty million readers in four hundred-plus newspapers. Gasoline Alley, an affectionate portrait of modern living, is remembered for being the first strip to set itself in contemporary American history. The characters of Gasoline Alley grow up, go to war, and have grandchildren. The strip always reflects the kind, sweet pace of life.

Editorial Reviews

Douglas Wolk
Walt and Skeezix doesn't include the Sunday strips in which King really got to show off his sense of design, but the dailies are visually splendid in their own right…And as mild as King's wit usually is, he gets a lot of mileage out of the sense of desperation that any new parent feels in caring for something beautiful and helpless.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Chris Ware edited and designed this volume of Frank King's classic comic strip Gasoline Alley, but this collection doesn't quite begin at the beginning, 1919. Instead, it starts when the strip abruptly got really interesting, a few years later. King's protagonist Walt is a good-natured, roly-poly bachelor with a fondness for cars; as this book begins, he acquires a "stepchild"-an infant abandoned on his doorstep named Skeezix. The great innovation of this strip was that all of its characters aged and grew in real time. A lot of the early jokes about Skeezix have to do with Walt trying to keep the baby happy the same way he keeps cars running smoothly, and the strip's main tone is calm amusement about parenthood's lighter side. But there's a melancholy undercurrent: who will become a mother figure to Skeezix, and what will that mean for Walt's independence and relationships with his car-enthusiast friends. The daily strips reprinted here don't have the glorious visual inventiveness of King's Sunday pages (which will appear as separate volumes), but they're still lovely. The book includes an extensive introduction by Jeet Heer, featuring drawings and photographs from King's archives. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
First volume of a worthy project to reintroduce the world to the gang at Gasoline Alley. In a move as ambitious as Fantagraphic's encyclopedic reissuing of the entire Peanuts line, Drawn & Quarterly has inaugurated an ambitious series that will eventually reprint the entire Gasoline Alley strip, as written and drawn by the late Frank King. The series is edited and designed by the estimable Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan, 2000), who obviously owes a lot of the inspiration for his nostalgic renderings to the work of fellow Chicagoan King, an influential early-20th-century cartoonist. The lengthy and learned introduction by Jeet Heer provides valuable insight into King's life, particularly important since his strip was highly autobiographical. Far from being a tortured artist, he grew up uneventfully in Tomah, Wis., and afterward held a series of increasingly respectable and well-paid drawing jobs, culminating with the 1919 launch of Gasoline Alley in the Chicago Tribune. Heer draws connections from various incidents to their later appearances in the strip, and Ware liberally sprinkles the text with a wealth of old family photos. Gasoline Alley is pure Americana, set in a neighborhood where all the men are infatuated with their automobiles, tinkering with and talking about them endlessly. Disrupting the calm murmur of shoptalk is Skeezix, an orphan left on the doorstep of the chubby and friendly Walt, one of the Alley's only unattached men. The sections of the strip included here (from 1921 and 1922) follow Walt's attempts to raise the kid on his own. They also deal with the attentions of Mrs. Blossom, the beautiful, newly single woman who's catching the eye of the Alley's men and worrying theirwives. It's all as innocent as can be, but given to occasional melancholy and strangely addictive: the characters actually change from day to day, and they even age, an unthinkable thing for most stuck-in-amber cartoons. A handsomely mounted presentation for one of the 20th-century's landmark cartoons.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781896597645
Publisher:
Drawn & Quarterly
Publication date:
06/15/2005
Series:
Walt and Skeezix Series
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
7.64(w) x 9.72(h) x 1.66(d)

Meet the Author

Cartoonist/designer Chris Ware is the author of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Quimby the Mouse, and the Acme Novelty Datebook. Ware was born in 1967, two years before Frank King's death.

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