This is such a great book. Here’s Chris Ware on how big of an influence the book was on him:As an undergraduate student and aspiring cartoonist, the book laid open most often on my drawing table was Blackbeard and Sheridan’s weighty “Smithsonian Book of Newspaper Comics.” For years I’d been led to believe by various comic book aficionados that the zenith of achievement for the medium were the EC comic books of the 1950s, but after discovering the Smithsonian book, it became all too clear to me that the real original geniuses of the medium were the pre-cinema cartoonists of the throwaway sunday supplements of a half century prior. As a general history, the book evenly balanced a necessary all-inclusivity with an otherwise gently insistent esthetic sophistication, which was something of a virtuosic tightrope act of curation: covering everything while still allowing the greats to shine….the strips were presented in a warm, large, full-color format which at the time must have been extraordinarily expensive, but allowed their complicated and intricate compositions to be truly re-appreciated; earlier histories of comics had tended towards text-clotted black and white tour schedules, amputating single panels and freeze-drying them in black and white as little more than passing souvenirs of an outmoded 19th and early 20th century naïveté.
Ware liked one of the Gasoline Alley strips so much that he tore out the page and hung it in his studio.
It’s out of print, but I’ve always seen copies at my local Half Price Books.