Monday, May 25, 2015


Obscurity of the Day: Look Out for Motorcycle Mike

The great Frank King, who later created the enduring classic Gasoline Alley, might not be the sort of fellow you think of as having a zany side. Gasoline Alley, after all, was (and is) an exercise in understated realism, whose characters were only slightly removed from real folks and whose humor was character-driven and quietly gentle.

However, Frank King could and did know how to produce zany slapstick material. Check out one of my favorite King strips, Look Out for Motorcycle Mike. The plot was simplicity itself. Mike and his indestructible motorcycle will stop for nobody and nothing (not, not like in Waco last week -- hmm, too soon to joke?).Mike started by tearing up Chicago, but it wasn't long before he and his trusty iron steed went international, making like American diplomacy all over the world.

Look Out for Motorcycle Mike was part of a Chicago Tribune Sunday comics interior page that offered a bunch of strips in small sizes, unlike most every other comic section of the time which printed strips almost universally as full or half pagers. The one-tier Sunday strip ran from September 10 1911 to January 18 1914. It ended shortly before the page was revamped as that amazing experiment, The Crazy Quilt.


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