This third volume in an ongoing reissue of the late Frank King's Gasoline Alley comic strip is, like both of its predecessors, an absolute joy. "Uncle Walt" Wallet and his adopted son, Skeezix, continue their adventures in "the alley," along with Walt's car-loving pals Doc, Bill, Avery and the rest of the gang.
A classic American comic strip that is justly viewed as one of the greatest strips of all time, Gasoline Alley has been in continuous publication for some 90 years or so, under various artists, and is cherished by devoted fans and comics scholars alike. With this series, it has become much easier for fans of the earlier - some would say more glorious - strips to get their fix.
In "Walt and Skeezix: Book Three," which covers daily strips from 1925 and 1926, the long courtship between Walt, who began the strip as a confirmed bachelor, and Phyllis Blossom finally reaches its inevitable conclusion as the two lovebirds head to the altar.
And in keeping with Gasoline Alley's claim to fame as a strip whose characters age in real time, the irrepressible Skeezix, whom Walt adopted when he found the infant tucked into a basket on his doorstep, progresses from the broken English of a prechooler to the more mature speech of a slightly older boy.
"Walt and Skeezix: Book Three" presents the two-year run of strips in context, with photos of King and his family, an introductory essay by Canadian journalist Jeet Heer, reproductions of early merchandising efforts and an appendix of explanatory notes.
This old gem of a strip, with its gentle humor and meandering ways, is an acquired taste that many newcomers may find hard to take in our fast-paced, techno-crazed 21st century.
But those seeking a heartwarming escape into a world that is full of whimsy and the constant devotion of loving families and close friends will be rewarded by taking a spin through Gasoline Alley in this lovingly conceived volume.
The handsome hardcover books in this series, published by Drawn & Quarterly Books of Montreal, are a must-have for diehards and a must-try for the uninitiated.
Here's hoping this run of reissues continues for a long time to come. (There certainly is plenty of material!) As things stand now, a fourth volume covering daily strips from 1927 and 1928 is scheduled to be released in June 2010.