Nashville City Paper reviews WALT & SKEEZIX

Web only column: Dead cowboys and Moore

Nashville City Paper    |    Wil Moss    |    August 19, 2005

It’s a good time to be a fan of classic comic strips. There’s the current reprint series of Peanuts and Krazy & Ignatz, in October we’ll see the release of the complete Calvin & Hobbes, and now Drawn & Quarterly is reprinting one of the longest running comic strips of all time, Gasoline Alley, in this collection called Walt and Skeezix.
Created by Frank King in the 1920s as a humor strip about the new automobile “fad,” the strip evolved into a decades-long narrative about its cast of characters who age in real time. For every year that passes by in our world, so does one in theirs.
The hook of this collection is Walt, a good-spirited bachelor who finds a baby on his doorstep and raises him as his own son. Naming the kid Skeezix, over the course of the book’s first two years Walt goes from solving Skeezix’s problems by applying the same methods he would use on a car to really caring and becoming a father to the kid.
This parallels the life of then-new papa King, which is thoroughly covered in Jeet Heer’s fascinating 80-page introduction, making the book more than just a reprint of comic strips — it’s an examination of Frank King, both through his life and through his work.
Edited and designed by longtime King admirer Chris Ware, a cartooning giant in his own right, Walt and Skeezix is a lovely package. Considering these are strips from more than 80 years ago, it’s remarkable how so little of the work seems dated. Frank King’s Gasoline Alley is a welcome addition to the growing ranks of comic strip archives.

Review copies can be sent to:
The City Paper
Attn: Wil Moss
P.O. Box 158434
Nashville, TN 37215-8434

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