Alley Oop by VT Hamlin

V.T. Hamlin was the creator of the comic strip about caveman 'Alley Oop'. Born Vincent Trout Hamlin in Perry, Iowa, he enlisted in the U.S. army at age seventeen and was sent to France during World War I as part of the American Expeditionary Forces. After returning home, he studied journalism at Drake University and had several odd-jobs, varying from sign painter to semi-professional boxer.

He was a reporter for papers like the Des Moines News, Texas Grubstakers and the Fort Worth Record in the early 1920s. By now settled in Texas, he was also a photographer and cartoonist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He also created his first comic strip, called 'The Hired Hand', and the sports feature 'The Panther Kitten' for this paper.

Alley Oop by VT Hamlin

In 1927, Hamlin became a layout man, a poster designer, and a mapmaker for the oil industry. There he got the idea for a prehistoric strip, which he developed when he returned to Perry, Iowa in 1929. After many attempts, Hamlin created 'Alley Oop', which was first published as a daily strip in 1932 through the small Bonnet-Brown syndicate.

Alley Oop, V.T. Hamlin 1952

Hamlin continued the Alley Oop comic for the Newspaper Enterprise Association until his retirement in 1971, aided by his wife Dorothy and assistant Dave Graue. 'Alley Oop' was later continued by other artists, such as Graue and the couple Jack and Carole Bender. V.T. Hamlin died in Sarasota, Florida in 1993.

Alley Oop was the major inspiration behind the Belgian comic character Jerom in Willy Vandersteen’s “Suske en Wiske” series. Vandersteen’s assistant Karel Verschuere suggested Alley Oop and Jerom’s caveman physique was almost literally modelled after Alley Oop. Two Neanderthal characters in respectively Philip José Farmer’s “The Alley Man” (1959) and Clifford D. Simak’s novel “The Goblin Reservation” (1968) were also directly inspired by Hamlin’s creation. The one-hit wonder band The Hollywood Argyles furthermore wrote a song about the comic strip, which became their number one-hit “Alley Oop” (1960). The Alley Award, handed out by the American comic fanzine Alter Ego between 1962 and 1970, also took its name from the character.

Alley Oop, by VT Hamlin

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