If you read Hot Rod Magazine and scrounged every old back-issue you could find, you’re probably familiar with Tom Medley’s “Stroker McGurk” comics. A new website collects a ton of that vintage material, along with a chance to own some of it yourself.
Tom Medley was a staffer at Hot Rod Magazine in the earliest of days, contributing photos and cartoons from the second issue of the magazine in 1948.
When Medley created his comics, hot rodders were still seen as a menace to society, what with their short-cropped haircuts and chino pants. His character Stroker McGurk was the anti-hoodlum, poking fun at the hot rodder’s outlaw image.
Medley’s cartoons captured the hot rodding spirit, because the man was steeped in it. He was a go kart racer when that boom hit, and he worked on his own hot rods in the early days. When he penned the cartoon below, featuring Stroker McGurk hauling his hot rod to a stop with a parachute, he knew what he was talking about because he’d already done it himself.
In the 1960s, as publisher of Rod & Custom magazine, Medley created the first Street Rod Nationals as a means of promoting driving hot rods on the street.
In the days when fiberglass bodies married with Volkswagen Beetle floorpans at an alarming rate, Medley conceived of the Volksrod, a T-bucket-style body on a VW chassis. He had his own that he drove to the Street Rod Nationals in Memphis, which you can see in this photo from Rod & Custom at the time.
Up until his death last year, Medley still loved hot rods. He had a ’40 Ford that was near destroyed in a fire in 2011, and with typical Medley humor, he commented “I always wanted a ’40 with flames.” The car was resurrected just before his death just short of his 94th birthday last year.
Jay Leno interviewed Medley in 2012 for his Jay Leno’s Garage series.
Initial offerings at the site include prints of the “Short Course” Stroker-parachute strip, an early Tom Foolery-Stroker McGurk cartoon from Hot Rod, a photo print of Ak Miller at Bonneville in 1952, various Stroker McGurk /Hot Rod Magazine decals, a Flat Out Snodgrass cartoon strip (Snodgrass was Stroker’s 2-wheel alter ego), and a print of a rare drawing Medley did for the 78th Infantry Division “Lightning” newspaper during World War II.
Visit the site and check out all the great works.
Thanks to our pal Mod Betty at RetroRoadmap for passing along the press release.