Sunday 17 December 2017

Skeezix at the Military Acacemy Big Little Book

The Big Little Books were small, compact books designed with an illustration opposite each page of text. First published during 1932 by the Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin, Big Little Books were typically 3⅝″ wide and 4½″ high, and approximately of 1½″ thick. The interior book design usually displayed full-page black-and-white captioned illustrations on the right-hand page, facing the pages of text on the left. The first Big Little Books, The Adventures of Dick Tracy, came off the presses just before Christmas in 1932 and preceded the first true comic book by a year. Rapid sales of the books through the five-and-dime chains led to the quick creation of other titles. The books were produced at a rate of about six titles per month. Initially priced at 10¢ each, Big Little Books were related to radio programs, children's books, novels, movies, and, as is the case with the example shown above, comic strips. Subsequent Big Little Books production spanned more than a half century.

Gasoline Alley, a comic strip created by Frank King, was first published November 24, 1918. The strip received critical accolades for its influential innovations, inventive color and page design concepts, and the introduction of real-time continuity to comic strips. One notable example of this was the arrival of baby Skeezix on February 14, 1921, when main character Walt Wallet found a baby abandoned on his doorstep. That was the day Gasoline Alley entered history as the first comic strip in which the characters aged normally. As such, when this Big Little Book was published in 1938 by Whitman Publishing, “baby” Skeezix was now old enough to attend the military academy! Mid-1938 brought an end to the “golden Age” of Big Little Books, with Whitman changing their copyrighted logos to Better Little Books, so this edition would have been one of the last, true “Big Little Books”.