Booklist Reviews Walt Before Skeezix

“Walt before Skeezix.” / Booklist / Gordon Flagg / August 20, 2014

Gasoline Alley become one of newspapers’ most popular comic strips after its main character, bachelor Walt Wallet, found the infant Skeezix on his doorstep in 1921. The first two pre-Skeezix years of the strip, lost to obscurity, once again see the light of day in this lovingly assembled collection. The feature began as a cartoon portraying a group of neighbors hanging out in their garages and alleyways to work on and discuss their cars. The then-new automobile culture provided the hook, but the true attraction lay in King’s simple yet vivid drawings and lively dialogue, replete with period patois. Gasoline Alley evolved swiftly, as King expanded the setting to encompass golf games and fishing trips, brought in the guys’ wives and other female characters to broaden the appeal, and made the transition from a weekly single-panel cartoon to a daily multipanel comic strip. Once Walt moved from just one member of the large cast to the leading player in the repertory company, the stage was set for Skeezix to complete the changeover to heartwarming domestic “dramedy.”

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