Liking Comics

Today on the site we have Joe McCulloch giving us the latest in funny book releases.

My own recent reading reading has included the new IDW/Library of American Comics-published Gasoline Alley. It's 1964-1966 by Dick Moores, who was Frank King's assistant and then successor.

I don't often use my kid-self as a gauge for comics, but I have to say, this strip, which I read five days a week throughout the 1980s, more or less signals "comics" to me. Just the lines and shapes alone remind me of straightforward enjoyment not just of the strip itself but of "comics", a category that might also include Far SideSteve Roper and Mike Nomad and Spider-Man.

Seeing this artist's work for the first time in 25 or so years has been delightful. Moores' Gasoline Alley is not King's. Moores is not graceful like King was, but instead brings mid-century solidity to the people and places. He was an exacting craftsman seemingly utterly at home in his pictorial world. This sequence, below, is crisp and clear cartooning, full of personality but all in service to the moment it depicts which, in purely formal terms, is kind of challenging. A handful of moving parts, and Moores brings the reader right in and manages wonderful extraneous details (the truck driver's face, the planks of the bridge, the mallet) as well. Like King, Moore had real graphic flair.

There's pleasure to be taken in being led through such a complete-drawn world by such a steady guide. Moores' lines are thick and resolute, his pace and attitude free of anxiety. There is no strangeness in his work. Rather, there are on-model characters that work through various situations that resolve nicely and without ambiguity. In other words, it's the fantasy America that, every now and then, I like to drop into. But better still, it's really fine and classic cartooning, and that craft, in service to a sense of decency that King established almost a century ago, makes for heartening reading.

Still elsewhere -- old comics only:

-Some early Katy Keene ovah heah!

-Some seriously incredible details in this Simon and Kirby spread.

-Abe Lincoln: always good for comics.