Saturday, January 28, 2017

The 1917 Chicago Auto Show

Sedanback Saturday looks back 100 years ago this weekend to the Chicago Auto Show of 1917, as greeted by Frank King's "The Rectangle" feature covering page 1 of section 7 of the Sunday Chicago Tribune.
Detail of "The Rectangle" by Frank King in Chicago Tribune, January 28, 1917
I've chopped his cartoon up into pieces in order to make them somewhat readable on line; those of you reading on computers and tablets can beclickify these images to embiggenate them. Those of you reading on your phones are just crazy. I'm not chopping the cartoon up that small.
Detail of "The Rectangle" by Frank King in Chicago Tribune, January 28, 1917
To refresh your memory, Wisconsin native Frank King (1883-1969) started working at the Chicago Tribune in 1909 for the salary of 50 cents a week. He is best known for "Gasoline Alley," the comic strip that grew out of this weekly "The Rectangle" feature. At this point, he was also drawing a full-page Sunday morning color comic, "Bobby Make-Believe," which I've featured in these Saturday retrospectives before. He'd been drawing cartoons about the Chicago Auto Show since at least 1912.
Detail of "The Rectangle" by Frank King in Chicago Tribune, January 28, 1917
You'll notice that this January 28, 1917 cartoon, dealing almost entirely with the subject of automobiles, has no foreshadowing of "Gasoline Alley" in it. The characters Walter W. Wallet and his neighbors Bill, Doc and Avery wouldn't make their first appearance in "The Rectangle" until November 24, 1918. On the other hand, the Little Pet Peeve and Our Own Movies were regular features of the Rectangle.
Detail of "The Rectangle" by Frank King in Chicago Tribune, January 28, 1917
I had to look up Lillian "Dimples" Walker (1887-1975), a film actress of the silent era. She had the title roles in The Kid and Kitty MacCay and Sally in a Hurry, three of her many films out around the time of this cartoon. After 1919, her film career slowed down drastically; her last film was Enlighten Thy Daughter in 1934. What she might have to do with the auto show I have no idea. Perhaps she made an appearance there.

And finally, in the lower right corner of the cartoon, King offers this tempting real estate give-away:
Detail of "The Rectangle" by Frank O. King in Chicago Tribune, January 28, 1917

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