While artist Tom Medley was best known for his character Stroker McGurk in Hot Rod magazine, he penned a memorable motorcycle character as well — Flat Out Snodgrass in Cycle magazine. And the new book, Stroker-The Artistic Works of Tom Medley, features many forgotten Snodgrass cartoons.
In the early post-WW2 era, hot rods, dragsters and lakes racers weren’t the only engine-driven machines that were popular. Interest in motorcycles was revving up, too. To capitalize on this two-wheel popularity, Trend, Inc. (publisher of Hot Rod) launched Cycle magazine in April 1950.
At this time, Stroker McGurk had found a loyal following among Hot Rod readers. So it made sense for Medley to create Flat Out Snodgrass, an ingenious and impish chap who boasted the same creative and humorous spirit as did Stroker.
Flat Out Snodgrass delivered his laughs in a multi-panel pantomime cartoon (like Stroker) that debuted in Cycle’s first issue. Flat Out continued until mid-1953, when the publication was sold to Floyd Clymer.
Snodgrass pulled some wild stunts, including demonstrating possibly the first motorcycle “selfie” photo technique, a plank-supported aero riding position for Bonneville, and a unique side-car seating trick.
As well known as Stroker McGurk is now, Flat Out Snodgrass is mostly lost on today’s generation. All the Snodgrass cartoons reproduced in the book were survivors of the Medley’s garage fire in 2011; nearly all the Cycles were soaked by water, requiring restoration and image editing to bring them back to life.
Medley passed away in March 2014, three weeks shy of his 94th birthday.