BOOK REVIEW
STROKER – The Artistic Works of Tom Medley

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LACar.com Book Review
STROKER – The Artistic Works of Tom Medley -
Limited Slip-Case Edition $65.00
Published by: Stroker McGurk, LLC. Hood River, Oregon
available at AutoBooks-Aerobooks
or directly at: www.strokerbymedley.com
ISBN 978-0-692-77403-8

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Rather than review this book it would be far better to just ask LA Car readers to give us their shipping addresses and just send this beautifully-illustrated tribute to a true hot rodding icon to all of you to marvel at one week at a time each … the only problem with that idea is that it take about would just slightly over 1739 years to get our one review copy into the hands of this site’s constituency … and that’s by express mail! So … you’re just going to have to buy one of these very special tributes for your permanent collection.-DS)

Stroker McGurk, the cartoon character who drag raced through the pages of Hot Rod Magazine beginning in issue #2 in 1948, is the speed-crazed, wise-cracking namesake of this amazing and beautiful collection of the drawings of his creator (and who most think was his alter-ego) Tom Medley.

Tom passed away in 2014 leaving a lifetime of amazing artwork behind.

It took author Gary Medley fully three years to assemble, catalog, layout and tell this story that’s so much more than a gathering of very funny cartoons about cars.

“STROKER. The Artistic Works of Tom Medley” is a lovingly designed historic document masquerading as a coffee table book that showcases the work of the famed Hot Rod magazine cartoonist.

“STROKER” covers Medley’s seven decades as an artist, including an insightful biography. The book features illustrated letters home during World War II; drawings from the 78th Infantry Division Lightning newspaper, including “Fearless Freddy Flash;” legendary character “Stroker McGurk” in Hot Rod magazine; character “Flat Out Snodgrass” in Cycling magazine; plus automotive cutaway illustrations, spot cartoons, logos, t-shirt designs, holiday cards, and much, much more.

In addition to reproductions of the finished art, the book also shows numerous original art boards, as well as rough sketches that show the creative process used by Medley.

As mentioned earlier, he was one of Hot Rod Magazine’s original staffers in 1948, his cartoons and photography chronicled America’s post WWII car culture. Character “Stroker McGurk” put a whimsical wink on a hot rodding’s outlaw image. “Flat Out Snodgrass” did likewise for motorcycling.

At the same time, Medley’s words and cameras captured the iconic events of the day – Bonneville salt flats, the Indy 500, the US National Drags, El Mirage dry lakes. Earlier, he sketched for Stars and Stripes and penned “Fearless Freddy Flash,” mascot of the 78th Infantry Division. At Rod & Custom he conceived and oversaw the first Street Rod Nationals, launching the modern hot rod hobby.

In October 2011, Tom Medley found himself knocked to the ground after attempting to start his prized 1940 Ford coupe when it backfired and caught fire. Tom was shaken but the Ford and building were destroyed. Tools and memorabilia wiped out. But not all.

Three boxes of artwork and artifacts miraculously survived, revealing the breadth of Medley’s artistic contribution. Art school sketches. “Stroker” roughs. There were hundreds of black-and-white prints, even more negatives. A breathtaking discovery, one that complemented the vast inventory of artwork already stashed in his house. The documentary “STROKER” tells Medley’s story.

A unique personality, he captured a unique time and place. Old school hot rod enthusiasts universally admire his art. Younger car enthusiasts quickly recognize its genius. Even those oblivious to car culture chuckle at “Stroker’s” antics. Medley drew on any medium handy, from napkins to cereal boxes to highly “illuminated” letters home to his girlfriend and future wife … further revealing his one-of-a-kind artistry.

Medley’s artistry and passion left a literal mark on this period, a personal interpretation of a time when America’s potential was unlimited, free of cynicism, full of promise. Tom Medley, known as hot rodding’s original nice guy, proved just how unlimited that potential could be.

Sadly, the great and gentle Tom Medley passed away in March of 2014 just two weeks shy of his 94th birthday. His artistry, however, will live on forever.

For “Hot Rodders” of a certain age this book will sweep them back in time to when we all lived and breathed for cool cars and cute chicks (and not necessarily in that order). Lovingly put together by a team lead by Tom Medley’s son Gary, this book … this wholly authentic (and rightfully described as “beautiful”) artist’s portfolio is not only a tribute to the man, but a true and lasting archive of the era.

A limited number of these special collector slipcase editions will be printed and are available directly from the author at www.strokerbymedley.com.

The recent documentary “STROKER” tells Medley’s story… take a look and you’ll really need this book!

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