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Friday, April 13, 2007

The Hot Rock Glide/108 pgs., spiral-bound chapbook, $35 from Jill Mosley


Smilin’ Jack was one of the earliest and longest running adventure comic strips. Beginning in 1933 and continuing until 1973, it fed the public’s hunger for everything aviation through the exploits of pilot Smilin’ Jack and an amazing supporting cast of bizarre villains and beautiful babes.

Hot Rock Glide (HRG) reprints an episode from 1938-1939 that in-troduced several of Jack’s most im-portant characters: the villainous, bug-eyed Head, hefty Fat Stuff, and Downwind, a pilot whose face was never shown. HRG is a non-stop, action-filled thriller representative of cartoonist Zack Mosley’s strengths: engaging characterizations, the ability to tell an adventure story marbled with visual humor, and the real secret of his success, his unabashed love of aviation. Exotic locals added spice. In this volume, Jack proves that no good deed goes unpunished as he and Fat Stuff end up in a horrible prison with seemingly no hope of escape.

Mosley’s love of aviation is obvious in a minimalistic art style that focuses on the diverse aircraft of his time as much on the varied cast of his comic strip. Somewhat reminiscent but not imitative of Chester (Dick Tracy) Gould’s art, Mosley’s visual story-telling is flawless, energetic, and engaging.

His second love is obviously the ‘de-icers’ or beautiful women who populate Smilin’ Jack. Drawn in the ‘good-girl’ style of the late ‘30s and ‘40s, they are a delight to the eye without being sleazy.

Hot Rock Glide is recommended for readers of all ages. It is sold at on-line auctions and at www.smilinjackart.com.

Also available are De-Icers Galore, reprinting strips from the 1930s and 1940s, and Brave Coward Zack, the autobiography of Zack Mosley focus-ing on his aviation career. All are recommended.

Michael Vance


Zack Mosley will be inducted into the Oklahoma Cartoonists Hall of Fame in 2007.