THE COMICS AS ‘THE MIDWAY’ OF AMERICAN JOURNALISM:
Frank King’s Gasoline Alley, Car Culture and Race, 1918-1941
Current Research Project by Dr. Fon Gordon
Associate Professor of History
Gasoline Alley, the comic strip created by Frank O. King (1883- 1969), was part of an expansion of car culture that emerged in response to the national popularity of the automobile by 1920. The automobile emerged within an ethos of American imperialism both at home and abroad; and the nation’s World’s Fairs from 1876 to 1916 normalized the Midway as a venue of racial hierarchy and mass entertainment.
The themes of race and popular culture enabled the rise of The Yellow Kid and “yellow journalism”; and the intersection of the comic strip, the motorcar, and race in the first half of the twentieth century.