Comic Strip / Gasoline Alley

Gasoline Alley is a comic strip created by Frank King and currently distributed by Tribune Media Services. First published November 24, 1918, it is the second-longest-running comic strip in the US and has received critical accolades for its influential innovations. In addition to inventive color and page design concepts, King introduced real-time continuity to comic strips by showing his characters as they grew to maturity and aged over generations.

The strip originally was a panel featuring young garage owner Walt Wallet and some friends in automobile-related situations (hence the title), but it began to chronicle Walt's life after he found a baby in the doorstep, whom he named "Skeezix" (common slang at the time for a motherless calf). Walt later married Phyllis Blossom in 1926, with whom he had a son named Corky. The family was completed in 1935 when a baby called Judy was left in Walt's car. All three grew up, got married and had children of their own. The strip now centers mostly on Skeezix and his wife Nina Clock, as well on their daughter Clovia and her husband Slim Skinner, who now manages the garage.

Frank King was the original artist, being replaced by Bill Perry in 1951 (Sundays) and Dick Moores in 1959 (dailies) after both had assisted King for years. In 1975 Moores became the sole artist. Jim Scancarelli took over in 1986 after Moores' death and has drawn the strip ever since.

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This Comic Strip contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Walt Wallet, Gideon Grubb, Hope Hassel, Slim Skinner
  • Artifact Title: The strip began as a part of "The Rectangle", where each of the Chicago Tribune's four staff artists drew a panel. In Frank King's panel, four characters named Walt, Doc, Avery and Bill (the last three being long dead by now) talked about cars, hence the name. It became popular enough to be spun off as a strip in 1918, with more characters who talk about a lot of other things besides cars. Even by the 1950s, MAD was doing parodies noting that the strip seemed to have nothing to do with gasoline.
  • Bus Crash: Walt's friends Avery, Doc and Bill were phased out as the strip began to focus on Skeezix's family. They were mentioned years later, all having died "off-stage". Happened to Mr. Pert as well.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: A large number of the Wallet family members have been phased out over the years.
  • Corrupt Politician: Senator Bobble, nephew of Pert, who served a similar role in earlier years.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Rufus borders on being a male version.
  • Crossover: A few ones with Dick Tracy.
  • Disco Dan: Avery, Walt's original neighbor, was this half a century before disco even took off; his defining trait was that he still used a crank car after everyone else had moved on to cars with starters.
  • Doorstop Baby: That's how Walt found Skeezix in 1921, and Judy in 1935.
    • In 2012, recurring "ne'er-do-well" characters Joel and Rufus were giving away kittens, and one of them was given to Walt, who had deja vu before reminiscing about the time in 1921 when he found Skeezix.
  • Eye-Obscuring Hat: Both Joel and Rufus wear these.
  • Fat Idiot: Slim Skinner
  • Killed Off for Real: Several of the original strip's minor characters offscreen, as would be expected, along with major character Phyllis in 2004.
  • The Malaproper: Joel, who overall seems to be the smarter of the two trash collectors, nonetheless has at least one malaprop in nearly every sentence he speaks.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: An October-November 2015 storyline had Walt visiting an "old comics' home" to attend Jeff's funeral, only to find out that Jeff was actually alive and well (much to the surprise of everyone else). Apart from Mutt and Jeff themselves, many other comics characters appeared in this arc, including "Smokey Stover" and even the "Yellow Kid".
  • Methuselah Syndrome: By virtue of being the main character, Walt at 116 would be the third-oldest living person (and the oldest living man) in the world if he were actually alive, and he's likely not going away anytime soon. The current writer of the strip has stated that he does have plans for this issue; what plans, however, he isn't saying.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Averted. Walt is 116 years old (Phyllis was 105 when she passed away in 2004) and Skeezix is now 94. While some characters have, the most popular and important characters will probably never get around to actually dying, but characters who were young in the Roaring Twenties are ancient now and characters who were introduced as children have families of their own.
    • Played straight with a few characters, specially with Joel and Rufus.
    • Also played straight in general when Dick Moores helmed the strip in the 1970s and '80s.
  • Parental Abandonment: A recurring motif in how characters have entered the strip. In addition to Doorstop Babies Skeezix and Judy, Rover was taken in as a toddler by Slim and Clovia after his parents abandoned him.
  • Print Long-Runners: It has run every day since 1920, and it was printed weekly in the two years beforehand.
  • Puppy Love: Boog and Charlotte from the fifth generation.
    • Boog's parents were Slim and Clovia's foster children.
  • Same Character, but Different: Corky's daughter Eve reappeared in the mid 2000's for the first time since the 1970's. Despite her supposed age being near 40, she was presented as a reckless teenager type who couldn't care less about her aging grandfather. There were absolutely no consequences for her behavior (that we saw, anyway), and she hasn't been back since.
  • Shout-Out: Skeezix's interim physician is Dr. Nelson. Bonus points for he actually portrayed a doctor once.
  • Those Two Guys: Joel and Rufus