A century of Gasoline Alley

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This title card is from the mid-1960s. The comic had already been around for nearly 50 years by this time.

I see that the Toronto Star has purchased rights to publish the continuation of Gasoline Alley, a comic strip started in 1918 and originally written by Frank King, and is just over 104 years old since its first printing on November 24, 1918, around the day of the American Thanksgiving holiday.

The innovations that seemed to impress people at the time regarding this strip, is that it was one of the first to be in color, and one where King took the trouble to show its characters ageing over the progress of the comic strip.  It would then make sense that the comic strip would not have anyone recognizable from the original comic strip. The current cartoonist for this comic is Jim Scancarelli.

By the time Mad Magazine had its own parody of Gasoline Alley (Gasoline Valley), the strip was at least 35 years old.

There was a Mad Magazine parody in their 15th edition, possibly around 1954 called Gasoline Valley. Skeezix, one of the main characters from the original strip, had been renamed “Skizziks” in the parody, turning his name into a palindrome. Frank King was still writing for the comic during this time.

One of the main things Mad parodied was the ageing of the characters, climaxing by Skizziks’s shocking discovery that by his reckoning, he must be his own grandpa.

I had always wondered how King thought up the name Skeezix. It is not a common name. I have spent a bit of time looking up occurrences of the name on the internet, and there are many utterances around the ‘net. skizzix.com is a gamer website. On another website, they are referred to as a fictitious race of humans in a fantasy game. Or maybe it is a goblin wizard. On many sites, Skizzix appears as screen name for a computer nerd. But a real name of a real person? That’s much less common, and would be far from the top 10 of names for your baby.

To see the Mad parody in its entirety, Jeff Overturf has preserved the comic in excellent scans and posted images of the pages on his website.

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