Gasoline Alley, by Bill Perry 1965

Bill Perry was an American newspaper cartoonist and Frank King's longtime assistant on the 'Gasoline Alley' newspaper comic. Perry was the lead artist of the Sunday pages between 1951 and 1975, as well as the creator of his own comic strip 'Ned Handy' (1947-1950).

William Miles Perry was born in 1905 in Chicago, Illinois. He began his career as a shipping clerk for the Chicago Tribune Syndicate, and took art classes in the evenings. He was hired as an assistant on 'Harold Teen' by Carl Ed, and started assisting Frank King on 'Gasoline Alley' in 1925. King once boasted to his newspaper colleagues that he could train any amateur into becoming a professional cartoonist. He won his bet by training Perry and making him his full-time assistant, presenting him as the "mail-room delivery boy". King didn't tell his friends that Perry had already been active as an assistant-cartoonist for a few years. Nevertheless the young artist remained one of King's many assistants on his trademark comic strip with humorous depictions of small-town life. In addition to his work with King, Perry had his own syndicated strip in the Chicago Tribune, called 'Ned Handy - Adventures in the Deep South'', between 1947 and November 1950. Episodes of the strip were reprinted in the comic book 'All Great Comics' by the Fox Feature Syndicate.


Ned Handy, edited Sunday page for the All Great Comics comic book (1947)

On 29 April 1951 he took over the 'Gasoline Alley' Sunday page and would continue to do so until 28 September 1975. All according to King's original setup, the characters in the 'Gasoline Alley' comic continued to age throughout the years. King's Sundays were often philosophical ponderings between Walt and his sons Skeezix and Corky, but Perry's Sundays mostly dealt with the next generation of the cast members, as Skeezix and Corky were by now adults too. While the dailies continued their regular continuity, the Sundays starred Judy, another one of Walt's adoptive children, Skeezix's children Chipper and Clovia and Corky's son Nubbin, as each transitioned into their teens and adulthood. At Perry's request, dailies artist Dick Moores arranged for Corky and his wife Hope to become the parents of twins Adam and Eve on 21 April 1960, thus ensuring there'd be youngsters to feature in 'Gasoline Alley' by the 1970s. A Sunday companion strip called 'Wilmer's Little Brother Hugo', created by King in 1944, was also drawn by Perry between 1951 and 1973.

Bill Perry retired in 1975 and dailies artist Dick Moores took over the Sundays as well. To relieve him from his workload, he hired a former 'Gasoline Alley' assistant, Bob Zschiesche, to help him out. Zschiesche drew most of the Sunday's between 1976 and 1979, after which he was replaced by Jim Scancarelli. A Florida resident since the 1930s, the veteran artist Bill Perry passed away in Orlando on 13 February 1995, at the age of 89.

Little Brother Hugo, by Bill Perry
Little Brother Hugo

Series and books by Bill Perry in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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