Gear: The Definitive Hot-Rodding Comic Book Is Now Available In The Petrolicious Shop

The Definitive Hot-Rodding Comic Book Is Now Available In The Petrolicious Shop

Alex Sobran By Alex Sobran
May 24, 2018
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The Amazing Adventures of Stroker McGurk is available for purchase in the Petrolicious Shop

While it’s no secret that we share more stories about European cars than their American cousins on this site, almost every modified BMW or high-power Porsche that’s appeared on these pages can trace its existence to the hot-rodding scene that developed and flourished in the United States so many years ago. The novel engineering solutions, the mixture of form of function, the will and skill to coax out every newton meter of torque and foal of power—that wasn’t happening exclusively in Stateside garages, of course, but American hot-rodding undeniably set us up for a future full of modified cars cut from very different bits of cloth.

In its early years, this scene was associated with prohibition runners—those pre-NASCAR pioneers—and after that, it was labeled with the stereotypical connotations of the unsavory parts  of “youth” culture. Staying out late, making too much noise, not waiting for marriage, that kind of thing.

Tom Medley wasn’t a wayward miscreant though, and while he was wrapped up in the immense importance of WWII he used his drawings to alleviate some of the direness, but without shying away from what was going on. That sounds like the mark of any great cartoonist, but Tom’s work wasn’t limited to the political, and his legacy is rightly rooted in his work for HOT ROD, an important early automobile magazine the contents of which you can surely guess.

He was one of the first on the staff, and his work as a photographer and as a journalist is only eclipsed by his prolific work as an illustrator. His work was light-hearted, punchy, funny, and possessed some actual real-world novelty, not just a quick giggle. Tom created the character of Stroker McGurk back in 1948, and in his frenzied and creative antics in the pursuit of more speed, Stroker became the first hot-rodder to have a bubble-top above his head, and he was the first to use a parachute to slow down his dragster. That was all from Tom, every drag ‘chute that’s saved a life can be attributed to his cartoons.

He was one of the first on the staff, and his work as a photographer and as a journalist is only eclipsed by his prolific work as an illustrator. His work was light-hearted, punchy, funny, and possessed some actual real-world novelty, not just a quick giggle. Tom created the character of Stroker McGurk back in 1948, and in his frenzied and creative antics in the pursuit of more speed, Stroker became the first hot-rodder to have a bubble-top above his head, and he was the first to use a parachute to slow down his dragster. That was all from Tom, every drag ‘chute that’s saved a life can be attributed to his cartoons.

Sadly, Tom passed away some years ago, but his son Gary is taking up the mantle and sharing the family’s legacy with some creative literature and other products. Last year he put together a gorgeous coffee-table-type hardcover with a slipcase, and that chronicle of Tom and Stroker quickly sold out of our shop. We’re happy to add this today: a bonafide old-school comic book featuring every single Stroker piece that Tom drew since the very first one that appeared in the 1948 March issue of HOT ROD.

You’ll find 56 pages with more than 70 cartoons inside, and it’s a riot of nitro-powered lawnmowers, drag racing on aircraft carriers, and multi-engine abominations of horsepower. The best thing about all of it is that you can gain an understanding of who Tom Medley was. A smart man, a creative one too, he was the kind of person who knew how to convey a story in sharp panels but more than his artistic talents it was his easy sense of humor, his willingness to go out of the box, and his consistent dedication to a culture that he deeply loved and certainly helped elevate.

The Amazing Adventures of Stroker McGurk is available for purchase in the Petrolicious Shop

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