From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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)
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The enormously long-running newspaper strip Gasoline Alley
began in 1919 by depicting neighbors who bonded in their enthusiasm for the then-new automobile. In 1921 the strip shifted gears when bachelor Walt Wallet found a baby boy on his doorstep. Thereafter, the strip transformed from a daily-gag to a "continuity" strip unreeling single story lines for weeks and months. It became famous as the sole strip whose characters aged rather than, like the perpetually preadolescent Little Orphan Annie, remained the same. This volume inaugurating a series aiming to present the strip's entire run begins with the year that baby Skeezix appeared. Creator King's art is simple yet expressive in these daily installments--his visual brilliance would flower in the full-page, color Sunday strips--and the homespun charm of the characters is what makes these early installments worthwhile. The handsome collection is designed by alternative-comics maestro Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan
), whose introduction rightly praises King for "captur[ing] the texture of life as it slowly, inexorably, and hopelessly passes by." Gordon FlaggCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved