Monday, March 30, 2020

Toon: Give It To Me Straight

Sunday, Dear Leader crowed — make that tweeted — that the TV ratings for his daily coronacrisis press briefings are the best anyone has ever seen. Monday Night Football! The Bachelor finale! The Kennedy assassination!

U.S. media complained after the White House quit offering press briefings a little over a year ago; now that Trump himself comes to the podium day after day to spout self-serving nonsense leavened with the occasional scrap of factual information, the media have begun to ask the administration to go back to its cone of silence.

The daily press briefing has taken the place of the Trump campaign rally. He misses the adulation of the red-hatted throng, to be sure; but the State Media over at Fox, America One, and Sinclair Broadcasting do their part to reassure the Trump Loyalists that their overlord and savior is in charge of the situation and everything is under control. And that he has masterfully put down the wicked scheming of the Fake News and the Chinese and the George Soros.

By the way, Monday Night Football ain't all that big a deal any more. Monday Night Football is there for when the NFL lets the Bengals, Raiders or Jets sleep in on Sunday morning.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Toon: Sit. Stay.

Talking to your dog is perfectly normal.

When your dog starts talking to you, it's time to get out and see somebody human.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Next July We Collude with Mars

You look like you could use a break from the frightening news and sheltering in place and social distancing, so this installment of Sottiseback Saturday turns the calendar back 100 years to that time when Guglielmo Marconi picked up radio signals from Mars.
"Folks Who Listen Are Always Likely to Hear Something" by Billy Ireland in Columbus Dispatch, February, 1920
Dateline London, January 29, 1920: William Marconi informs The Daily Mail that investigations are in progress regarding the origin of mysterious signals which he recently described as being received on his wireless instruments. He hopes to make a statement on the subject at an early date. Marconi insists that "nobody can yet say definitely whether they originate on the earth or in other worlds."
"Hearing Things" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, February, 1920
Marconi's caveat didn't stop cartoonists from having some fun with the idea of radio messages from the Red Planet.
"Vamping Her" by Dennis McCarthy in New Orleans Times Picayune, February, 1920
The French scientist Édouard Branly questioned how Martians came to learn Morse code. "If we attribute them to interplanetary sources (admitting that planets are inhabited) we must then admit that their people have reached a degree of development comparable to ours and that their science has led them to construct instruments similar to ours. This would be a succession of coincidences that I would call improbable."
"A Little Louder Please" by Neal McCall in Portland (OR) Telegram, ca. February, 1920
You might, however, dismiss M. Branly's skepticism as sour grapes; as Director of the Paris Observatory and founding president of the International Astronomical Union Édouard Benjamin Baillaud sniffed, "Frankly, I am in ignorance of this supernatural correspondence. It would seem that if New York and London received these messages, we should have received them at the Eiffel Tower."
"Somebody's Trying to Get Us" by Gaar Williams in Indianapolis News, February, 1920
As with all technological advancements that have richly benefited mankind, it turns out that Nikola Tesla was first. In the March, 1901 edition of Collier's Weekly, Tesla wrote about his experiments using a magnifying transmitter — his Teslascope, as it were — at his Colorado Springs laboratory two years earlier:
“I can never forget the first sensations I experienced when it dawned upon me that I had observed something possibly of incalculable consequences to mankind.My first observations positively terrified me, as there was present in them something mysterious, not to say supernatural, and I was alone in my laboratory at night; but at that time the idea of these disturbances being intelligently controlled signal did not yet present itself to me. ...
Although I could not decipher their meaning, it was impossible for me to think of them as having been entirely accidental.
The feeling is constantly growing in me that I had been the first to hear the greeting of one planet to another. A purpose was behind these electrical signals!”
"The Red Peril as Seen From Mars" by Elmer Bushnell for Central Press Association, February, 1920
Tune in next week, when we offer proof that Nikola Tesla invented the telephone, discovered the basic laws of thermodynamics, and wrote the plays of Shakespeare.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Q Toon: Oh, You Thought THAT Question Was Nasty

In this time of a global health crisis, I would really like not to draw cartoons critical of the President of the United States.

Really I would.

But he simply refuses to stop saying foolish, spiteful, and false things at those daily press conferences that the mainstream television and cable networks are obliged to broadcast live and uncensored. One moment, he's reading a prepared statement outlining the current scope and nature of the spread of the coronavirus and measures taken to control it. The next, he's telling everyone to cluster together in church on Easter Sunday as if "Death Takes a Holiday" were a real phenomenon.

Or he's snapping at a reporter who tossed him a softball question.
[NBC's Peter Alexander asked,] "What do you say to Americans watching you right now who are scared" of the coronavirus outbreak?
"I’d say you are a terrible reporter," Trump responded. "I think that’s a very nasty question, and I think that’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people."
"The American people are looking for answers and hope, and you're doing sensationalism, the same with NBC and Comcast — I don't call it Comcast, I call it Con-cast — for whom you work."
Or he's denying that he had anything to do with his own disbanding of the National Security Council's global health unit — and whining that reporters aren't praising him for his travel ban on Chinese citizens. To a hammer, every problem looks like a nail; to Trump, every problem calls for keeping the foreigners out.

But worse are his outright lies and fabrications. No, Mr. Trump, the coronavirus isn't going to disappear "like a miracle" by April or by Easter. President Obama didn't dither when the H1N1 pandemic broke out. Tests for the virus have not been available to everyone who wants one. Google didn't have a coronavirus testing web site ready to roll out nationwide.

And if you have “always known this is a real—this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic … I’ve always viewed it as very serious,” you did a very convincing job of acting otherwise.

I have been notified that Q Syndicate is suspending operations through the month of April. The coronavirus crisis has hit small, independent publications hard: most of them rely exclusively on advertising revenue to keep publishing, and most of their regular advertisers have nothing to advertise except "We're closed."

I will keep posting cartoons here when I can, although the schedule will undoubtedly become more irregular until this is over.

Monday, March 23, 2020

This Week's Sneak Peek

There must be something else to draw about this week. There must be something else to draw about this week. There must be something else to draw about this week. There must be something else to draw about this week. There must be something else to draw about this week. There must be something else to draw about this week. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. There must be something else to draw about this week.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

So Long As She's a Gentleman

"Pogo" by Walt Kelley, March 9, 1960
Senecaback Saturday offers a break from coronavirus (save to observe that there really was a St. Corona, and she really is the patron saint of pandemics. You can make this stuff up, but why would you?).

Instead, keeping in mind that March is Women's History Month, let's consider the history of women running for president of the United States.

Partisans of Senator Elizabeth Warren have complained that her late lamented presidential campaign was doomed by sexism. She entered the race amply qualified to win the Democratic presidential nomination. Not only did she have her plans, she was every bit a lefty as Bernie Sanders but without wearing the Socialist label.

Sexism in these matters being nothing new, of course...
"The Age of Brass" by Currier and Ives, 1869
Women couldn't even vote for president until 1869, and that was only in Wyoming. Elsewhere, female suffrage was pooh-poohed as a fantastically ludicrous idea, so Wyoming had to drive a hard bargain to keep women's right to vote when the territory was admitted as a state. Nevertheless, they persisted.
"An Unexpected Effect" by Charles J. Budd in Harper's Weekly, May 18, 1912
Jeannette Pickering Rankin was the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (R-MT) in 1916, four years before passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. She ran unsuccessfully for the Senate two years later as a third-party candidate, losing partly because she had voted against U.S. entry into World War I. She was elected to Congress again in 1940, in time to vote against U.S. entry into World War II.
Uncaptioned, by Sidney Maxell for Guy Gannett Publishing Co., Portland, ME, October 29, 1950
In the years after ratification of the 19th Amendment (and even beforehand), a few women ran for president on minor party tickets. The first to try for the nomination of either the Republican or Democratic party was Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) in 1964. [Update: but see also here: Lucy Page Gaston was on the GOP ballot in 1920, if only in South Dakota.] Floated as a possible running mate with Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, Chase Smith's high water mark in '64 was garnering 25% of the vote in the Illinois primary; placed in nomination at the GOP convention, she refused to withdraw her name from the final ballot, thus denying Barry Goldwater a unanimous nomination.
Jack Davis for Time magazine, January 31, 1972
Eight years later, Representative Shirley Chisholm (D-NY; the woman in Jack Davis's cartoon) was the second. Chisholm was less successful but won a meaningless "beauty contest" primary in New Jersey; still, she came in fourth when delegates voted at the Democratic National Convention.
"Mirror, Mirror on the Wall" by Pat Oliphant, August 25, 1987
The presidential campaign of Rep. Pat Schroeder (D-CO) in 1987 didn't get beyond the exploratory stage, sorely disappointing editorial cartoonist Pat Oliphant. Oliphant has never spared complimentary cartoons lightly, so this one is a rarity. His Puck, however, unintentionally brings up a standard by which male presidential candidates are hardly ever judged.
"Doonesbury" by Garry Trudeau, May 28, 1999
Elizabeth "Liddy" Dole, a twice former cabinet secretary and the wife of retired Senator Bob Dole, declared her candidacy for the 2000 GOP nomination. She came in a distant third to heir apparent George W. Bush and Steve Forbes in the Iowa straw poll in August of 1999 and withdrew in October. She might well have been Dubya's vice president if the guy Bush put in charge of finding his running mate hadn't decided there was no better choice than the man in the mirror.
"Of Course I Do," July, 1984
Backing up a bit, and turning to my own cartoons, a woman had made it onto a major party ticket in 1984. Walter Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his running mate. What should have been a bold, historical move was tempered by the impression that Mondale had been pressured into his choice by the National Organization of Women and the National Women's Political Caucus.
"Sarah's the One," September, 2008
John McCain didn't have that problem when he chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his VP candidate. If anything, she seemed to be more popular with Republicans than he was. Her folksy, in-your-face style wowed party regulars while striking outsiders as fairly ridiculous. The "Caribou Barbie" moniker was sexist and unfair, but oh so deliciously clever. And, frankly, no worse than Dan Quayle had to endure.
"So Happy to Be Back in Waterloo," July, 2011
Another woman who ran for the Republican nomination and earned merciless ridicule was Minnesota's Michele Bachmann. Citing various outrageous statements she had made in Congress and on the campaign trail, Chris Wallace actually asked her on Fox News Sunday, "Are you a flake?" There was, however, a moment when she was leading polls of GOP voters, and she won the 2011 Iowa straw poll — but she ended up coming in sixth in the actual caucuses there in January, and dropped out of the race.
"That Time of Year Again," February, 2007
And so we come to Hillary Clinton. Having paid her dues as First Lady and then Senator from New York, 2008 was supposed to be her year. Unfortunately, she had gained a reputation for being overly calculating. Ruining her plans, Barack Obama swept the Democratic Party, which tends to have a thing for bright, shiny, new, exciting candidates (well, not this year, obviously), off its feet.

Besides, had she won, future historians would have been puzzled why the United States decided for an entire quarter century that the best it could do were Clintons and Bushes.
"I Don't Get It," March, 2016
Eight years later, she was back as the Democrats' heiress apparent. And we know how that came out.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Toon: The American Virus

While this COVID-19 crisis has had some folks buying up all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer in town, there are has also been a run on guns and ammunition.

It doesn't take much to send these doomsday preppers into a gun-hoarding frenzy. It happens every time schoolchildren get shot up somewhere, a Democrat wins an election, the moon is in the seventh house, the sun comes up in the east, whatever.

Well, at least there's one sector of the economy still going strong.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Q Toon: Look for the Colloidal Silver Lining

Some people still believe that the coronavirus is just a media hoax to distract us from the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal.

It is amazing that a Venn diagram of a.) people who think this coronavirus thing is some sort of liberal hoax/Chinese plot, and b.) people who get suckered into buying snake oil from scam artists like Jim Bakker, would show c.) a considerable amount of ovelap.

Bakker, who was convicted in 1989 on 23 charges of fraud and one of conspiracy stemming from his "PTL" television ministry based in North Carolina, was released from prison in within four years. He resumed television ministry in 2003, trading in his former prosperity theology for apocalypticism.

But he hasn't changed a bit when it comes to fleecing his flock.

Attorneys General of New York and Missouri have filed restraining orders against the so-called Reverend Bakker, who has been peddling something he and "naturopathic doctor" Sherrill Sellman purport to be a cure for the virus.
A complaint was filed by the state of Missouri Tuesday, March 10, against Bakker and Morningside Church Productions, which does business as Jim Bakker Show Ministry. The show, which is broadcast on “multiple networks across the country,” since Feb. 12 had sold the supposed coronavirus potion for “donations” of $80 and $125.
The complaint alleges that Bakker was “falsely promising” that the potion called Silver Solution can “cure, eliminate, kill or deactivate coronavirus and/or boost elderly consumers’ immune system.”
The complaint continues that there is “no vaccine, pill or potion” that can treat or cure coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
“Let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it’s been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it waiting 12 hours,” Sellman claimed of the product that contains colloidal silver, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found to be dangerous to one’s health, even causing “serious side effects.”
Colloidal silver is one of those homeopathic remedies that has been around since the horse and buggy days; its various forms are basically nanoparticles of silver suspended in one solution or another, either ingested to treat disease or spread on the skin to heal wounds. Theoretically, the silver attaches to bacteria and kills them, but the science is dubious. The danger is that these nanoparticles might also seep from one's blood into one's brain, becoming a health risk themselves.

As if we didn't have enough to worry us about the health of our elderly parents/grandparents, without having to make sure they aren't also being hoodwinked by holy roller con artists!

Monday, March 16, 2020

This Week's Sneak Peek

There was something amiss in the grayscale version of this week's cartoon that I only corrected in the color version.

Any other mistakes remain in all versions.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Ladies' Home Rule Journal

Splitback Saturday tackles two topics today!

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, it's time to check in on events at the Emerald Isle a century ago. I realize that this makes a poor substitute for a cancelled parade, but I'm afraid it will have to do.
"Fer th' Love av Mike" by Elmer Bushnell for Central Press Association, February, 1920
With the Easter Rising and Irish wartime collaboration with Germany in the rearview mirror, the government of David Lloyd George proposed a Home Rule bill for Ireland. It established Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, which were to be governed by separate parliaments and judicial systems, but a common Lord Lieutenant, Council of Ireland, and High Court of Appeal. Both would still be part of the United Kingdom, with no authority over foreign policy, currency, or defense.
"Cruel to Be Kind" by George White in The Passing Show, February, 1920 or earlier
"Home Rule" was hardly a new idea. It had been the main goal of Irish nationalists since 1870, and proposed by Liberal governments in Great Britain as early as 1886. Parliament had finally passed a Home Rule bill just as World War I broke out, but did so simultaneously with a Suspensory Act preventing Home Rule from going into effect as long as the war lasted.

Which should have been fine and dandy now that the war was over, right?
Detail from "Cartoons of the Day" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, March 17, 1920

To begin with, Ulster Unionists — Ireland's Protestant minority— were dead set against Home Rule and literally up in arms to prevent it. Furthermore, after British execution of Easter Rising leaders, followed by Lloyd George's institution of wartime conscription in Ireland, Irish nationalists decided that "Home Rule" was too little, too late. The more radical Sinn Fein swept Irish elections in 1918 and demanded full independence.
"En ik heb vijf lange jaren naast je gevochten..." in De Notenkraker, Amsterdam, ca. February, 1920
After the war, Woodrow Wilson's idealistic talk of self-determination of small nations was more appealing to the Irish separatists than to the government of the Empire On Which The Sun Never Set.
"The Great Postponement" by Bernard Partridge in Punch, March, 1920 or earlier
The trick pig was a frequent, and intentionally insulting, representation of Ireland in British cartoons, tracing back to an 1840 cartoon in Punch. History Ireland reports, "The pig represented Ireland’s status as an agricultural, rustic and backward nation, as well as the Irish peasantry’s supposed indifference to filth and muck."
"A Test of Sagacity" by Bernard Partridge in Punch, February 18, 1920
The politicians in the next cartoon are Irish Unionist leader Edward Carson on the left and Prime Minister David Lloyd George on the right. I'm not positive who the fellow in the center is; it can't be Eamon Valera.
"The Pudding That Was to Have Been" by F.C. Gould in Saturday Westminster Gazette, ca. March, 1920
Lloyd George's bill, "The Government of Ireland Act 1920," was presented in parliament on February 26. The bill ultimately did pass, but never took effect in what is now the independent country of Ireland.
Given that we've just passed International Women's Day and are in the middle of Women's History Month, I would be remiss if I didn't take note of a centennial this week.
Detail from "The Tiny Tribune" by Carey Orr in Chicago Tribune, March 12, 1920
100 years ago this past Wednesday, West Virginia became the 34th state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to extend the vote in federal elections to women over the age of 21.

The measure almost failed to pass a special session of the West Virginia State Senate, where ratification came up one vote short. But two senators were absent: one had resigned the previous year; and the other, Jesse Bloch of Wheeling, was golfing in California.
"Now Straight Ahead" by Bill Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Ledger, March 12, 1920
The Senate leadership kept the vote open until the pro-suffrage Bloch could get back home, arriving by a specially arranged train in the wee hours of March 10.
"The Grand Rush of the Reception Committee" by Jay "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, March 15, 1920
Just two more states were needed to complete the ratification process; as you can see, proponents were very optimistic at the amendment's chances.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Q Toon: Doctors' Orders

As soon as Vice President Pence's task force on Novel Coronavirus-19 was announced, we learned that its chief mission was to control any information that might come out of it. Their meetings are closed to the public, and the health experts on the task force are not permitted to discuss anything with the media without prior clearance from above.

President Trump has suddenly gone all Pollyanna on us, promising a vaccine any day now and that we can all keep on just keeping on, no big whup, as long as we build his big ugly wall against Mexico and keep all the cruise ships out at sea. 96.6% of us will be just fine.

History tells us that it's not as simple as that.
When the influenza epidemic of 1918 infected a quarter of the U.S. population, killing tens of millions of people, seemingly small choices made the difference between life and death.
As the disease was spreading, Wilmer Krusen, Philadelphia’s health commissioner, allowed a huge parade to take place on September 28th; some 200,000 people marched. In the following days and weeks, the bodies piled up in the city’s morgues. By the end of the season, 12,000 residents had died.
In St. Louis, a public health commissioner named Max Starkloff decided to shut the city down. Ignoring the objections of influential businessmen, he closed the city’s schools, bars, cinemas, and sporting events. Thanks to his bold and unpopular actions, the per capita fatality rate in St. Louis was half that of Philadelphia. (In total roughly 1,700 people died from influenza in St Louis.)
In the coming days, thousands of people across the country will face the choice between becoming a Wilmer Krusen or a Max Starkloff.
We've already seen cancellation of this year's tennis tournament at Indian Wells, California, and limiting of the Tokyo Marathon to elite runners. The National Basketball Association has suspended its season until further notice. Other sports events are playing in empty stadiums.

Presidential candidates are being pressured to stop holding campaign rallies (where the standing-room-only crowds typically wait for hours before the candidate shows up). This shouldn't be a problem for Tulsi Gabbard; but deprived of the cheers of his adoring fans, Trump's withdrawal symptoms are going to be ugly.

Italy is on lockdown, the Louvre was closed for a few days, Coachella has been postponed to November, Major St. Patrick's Day parades and D.C.'s Gridiron Dinner have been cancelled, and luxury cruise ships are turning into floating prisons.

When our late-night TV hosts start delivering their monologues and interview celebrities in empty studios next week, will anyone laugh at home? Should the Republican and Democratic National Conventions be held by teleconference?

This will affect everyday life too. We've been through this before: gay men had to change our sex practices with the advent of AIDS. Society was forced to change its tolerance of ubiquitous tobacco smoking once the connection of second-hand smoke to cancer became undeniable. But we're not talking about managing the spread of a disease by breaking one habit.

How will this pandemic will impact public schools, houses of worship, nursing homes, mass transit, shopping centers, and restaurants? It has slashed gas prices, but what is it doing to your (or your parents') retirement plan?

Can you make it through the next ten minutes without touching your face?

Monday, March 9, 2020

This Week's Sneak Peek

From Time magazine on-line:
During a March 2 White House meeting with pharmaceutical company executives, Trump said a vaccine could be ready in “months” and he’s “heard very quick numbers.” Trump’s head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, spoke up, saying a vaccine could be ready in a year to a year-and-a-half “at the earliest,” adding: “Like I’ve been telling you, Mr. President.”

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Toon: Coronaspiracy

Conservative media are at it again, and their captivated audience is eating it up.
Everything is fine.
Rush Limbaugh, who was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, told his audience of millions that the [COVID-19] virus is really just the “common cold.” He claimed that it was being overhyped by the director of the National Center of Immunization—who just happens to be the sister of former acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a bad guy in the world of conservative infotainment, thanks to his role in the Mueller investigation—to damage the president.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham dismissed the fear about a potential pandemic as “a new pathway for hitting President Trump,” and speculated that it had been engineered by China as payback for the president’s trade war.
Fox News’s Sean Hannity said on Thursday that there was little to be afraid of—no Americans had died, he noted, days before they inevitably did—and that the virus was simply the latest desperate anti-Trump ploy from Democrats. Having struck out on impeachment, they were now “sadly politicizing and weaponizing an infectious disease as their next effort to bludgeon President Trump.”
It is the same defense that Trump’s supporters have trotted out for the past four years: Obfuscate the truth, laud the president, blame the Democrats.
This denialism is mother's milk to Donald Berzelius Trump, who tweeted, “Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus [sic] look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible."

It is true that the markets have been severely shaken by having one of the world's most important suppliers and consumers virtually shut down, and by discovering a turd in the vacation travel industry punch bowl.

Oh, and there is the matter of thousands of deaths and the prospect of there not being a cure for over a year, too. But the stock market doesn't usually have a problem with matters of mortality and morbidity.

But contagion is highly unpredictable — who foresaw Italy and Iran becoming such hot spots? — and if there's anything stock markets hate, it's unpredictability.

That unpredictability is what makes the denialism of Limbaugh, Ingraham, Hannity and their ilk so dangerous. We've seen the danger in the form of the anti-vaxxers who put not only their own children at risk but also any children who have the misfortune to be around them. COVID-19 appears not to pose a lethal threat to the young and hardy at this point, but we know that it has a latency period of several days and is communicable before symptoms are evident.

None of those nursing home residents in Kirkland, Washington had been to China, Iran, or Italy lately, you know.

Well, I'm not a doctor, and I don't even play one on TV, so I'll leave you with this link to the Center for Disease Control if you want to keep up with more authoritative information than your humble ink-slinger can provide.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Gasoline Alley Brakes Loose

Last Saturday, I took note that 100 years ago, Frank King's "Gasoline Alley" had just broken free of his "The Rectangle" feature in the Chicago Tribune. Today, let's celebrate the Alley's independence a little more purposefully.
"The Rectangle" by Frank O. King in Chicago Sunday Tribune, November 24, 1918
When "Gasoline Alley" first appeared on November 24, 1918, it was below the fold of the full-page feature, one panel among several recurring features. It showed up every week after that, along with "Is This Your Pet Peeve," "Our Movie," "Rubber Stamps," and riffs on whatever was the big news story that week. Eventually it migrated to the top of the page by the following summer, as well as expanding into multi-panel format on Sundays and appearing as a single, stand-alone panel on weekdays.
"The Rectangle's Gasoline Alley Calendar for 1919" by Frank O. King in Chicago Sunday Tribune, December 28, 1919
"Gasoline Alley" revolved around a bunch of male friends and their obsession with their automobiles, tinkering with the engines, sharing tips on vehicle maintenance, and occasionally even getting out on the road. Some of the guys had families or girlfriends, although King left the ladies' characters rather undeveloped. Walt and Skeezix (Jeet Heer, Chris Oliveros and Chris Ware eds., Drawn and Quarterly Books, Montreal) notes occasions when King mixed up the names of the supporting actresses in his cast.
"The Rectangle" by Frank O. King in Chicago Sunday Tribune, February 8, 1920
Above is the last "The Rectangle," on the front page of the Chicago Sunday Tribune's editorial section on February 8, 1920. Its episode of "Gasoline Alley" features regular characters Avery, his son Elmer, and bachelor Walt Wallet.

The following Sunday, the Tribune editorial section disappeared, reduced to a single page in the front section of the paper. So too disappeared "The Rectangle," and I can't find any cartoon by King in that day's edition. (By this time, he had turned over his Sunday color comic "Bobby Make-Believe" to other artists only to see it put to pasture within months.)
"If We Couldn't Tell a Lie" by "P.L." (?) in Chicago Sunday Tribune, February 15, 1920
The "Motordom" pages where "Gasoline Alley" would soon settle offered only one comic on February 15, a single-column piece of filler titled "If We Couldn't Tell a Lie." There would be several episodes of "If We Couldn't Tell a Lie" throughout any given edition of the paper; its focus not strictly about automobiles but may have been drawn to fit in with whatever page it happened to be on. I don't see a signature on this particular cartoon, but other installments were initialed "P.L."

"Gasoline Alley" by Frank King in Chicago Sunday Tribune, February 22, 1920
"Gasoline Alley" returned to the Sunday Tribune on Feb 22, with this panel appearing at the top of page 17 of section 7. This is one of King's less wordy single-panel cartoons, which might typically consist of several of the guys around the open hood of a car or watching one drive away, discussing what might be wrong with it or its owner.
"Gasoline Alley" by Frank King in Chicago Sunday Tribune, February 29, 1920
Starting on February 29, "Gasoline Alley" showed up regularly as a comic strip across the top of the first of the "Motordom" pages (usually in the middle of section 7). Avery is the central character of these Sunday strips. Walt, who would become the paterfamilias of the strip as it continues to this day, figures more prominently in the daily panel, and not just because he stood a head taller than the other denizens of the alley. (A feat not easily achieved in the cramped real estate of today's comic strips!)
"Gasoline Alley" by Frank King in Chicago Sunday Tribune, March 7, 1920
It would be another year before the foundling Skeeziks was left on Walt's doorstep, but you can see already that "Gasoline Alley" was gravitating toward being a family-centered comic strip. The March 7 episode touches only briefly and peripherally on matters automotive, and the March 14 installment has nothing to do with cars beyond having the rear bumper of one in panels three and four.
"Gasoline Alley" by Frank King in Chicago Sunday Tribune, March 14, 1920
I can imagine some editor at the Tribune asking King, "Remind me why we have you at the top of the top of the Motordom page again...?"
"Gasoline Alley" by Frank King in Chicago Sunday Tribune, March 21, 1920