Below are a few things that proved instrumental in engineering WLA Liberator piece. Firstly, blue prints of the Harley-Davidson flathead and knucklehead engines, circa 1942
Some of the books:
Here is the completed comic episode for the Believer schema depicting the discovery of the Stroker engine as experienced by C.B.Clausen and Gil Armas, circa late 1940’s. This comprises approximately one-third of the entire Believer piece, but took an incredible amount of research to make accurate. Special thanks to Bill Rodencal, conservator at the Harley-Davidson Museum, and especially Jim Wagner at Doc’s Harley-Davidson in St Louis for helping me understand a passage from Bill Hayes’ “The Original Wild Ones: Tales of The Boozefighters Motorcycle Club”, in which an interview will Gil Armas describes the process of “inventing” the Stroker engine.
Below are a few of the rough sketches I’ve recently completed regarding the “invention” of the stroker engine, as discovered by Gil Armas and C.B. Clausen, both members of the BOOZEFIGHTERS MOTORCYCLE CLUB. This comic depiction of the story is taken from Gil’s own account, as transcribed by Bill Hayes and Jim Quattlebaum in their book, “The Original Wild Ones: Tales of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club”. I’ve been in touch with Mr. Quattlebaum, who is the official historian for the Boozefighters; Jim Fricke, curator at the Harley-Davidson museum; and Bill Rodencal, mechanic extrordinaire at the Harley-Davidson museum. All of them have been extremely helpful in my pursuit of both historical and mechanical accuracy. But it was probably Jim Wagner at Doc’s Harley-Davidson in St. Louis who has been the most helpful in terms of translating Gil’s text into a visual mechanical breakdown of how the stroker engine was “invented”. I keep using quotation marks around “invent” because it is disputed that Gil and C.B. actually discovered the first strokerengine. Their are stories of others who developed it similarly, either simultaneously, or even (as one account suggests) as early as the late 1930’s. There is no question, however, that Gil and C.B. developed their engine without any prior knowledge of prototypes. Nevertheless, it’s been quite an adventure tracking this material down, has brought me into contact with several interesting people, and has ultimately led me to the purchase of my first Harley-Davidson: A 2005 Sportster 883.
Don’t be fooled: These “refined” preliminary concept sketches for the stroker engine portion of the overall schema took a hell of a lot of work to get accurate.
Ultimately, the entire schema will be included in FOLKTALES.
The Second Class Citizen originated in ABANDONED CARS, and will continue into FOLKTALES. Next week’s RFT will feature a graphic feature story, “NOTES OF A SECOND CLASS CITIZEN”, kicking off the beginning of a regular online continuity following the travails of my modern-day tip-of-the-hat to Dostoevsky’s timeless and nameless anti-hero from NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND. Below is the cover that will run next week. I did my best to create a sense of a cold rain.
The online continuity will run on the RFT website, on this site, and finally be in print in FOLKTALES. Below are a couple of reference photos I used for the cover, using myself as the model. That’s my wife in the window reflection, taking the picture, wearing her circus-gypsy pants.
I’m currently working on a schematic piece for The Believer magazine that traces the influence of the Harley-Davidson WLA “Liberator”, supplied to the Armed Forces during World War II, on American culture just after the end of the war and into the 1950’s. I had already planned to do a strip for FOLKTALES that dealt with the subject matter – particularly the development of the “stroker engine”, and how it was developed in the garage of a couple of Boozefighters (a southern California motorcycle gang), Gil Armas and CB Clausen. I pitched the idea to the art director at The Believer, who suggested we try it as a schematic, which I thought was a clever idea. I also thought it would be an interesting exercise to trace the project from it’s conceptual origins to its fruition. Last summer, I was asked by the Harley-Davidson Museum to contribute some of the original drawings from the BELLIGERENT PIANO weekly strip that dealt with Harley-Davidson (see episodes 41 through 48) for their “COLLECTION X” exhibit. Through the experience, I made friends at the museum who are willing to help me fact-check some of my history and mechanical accuracy. Below is the first concept sketch I sent to The Believer. Although it hasn’t been officially approved, the concept was met with enthusiasm. Let’s hope it moves to the next level.
Below is the cover for the HOPEVILLE story as it ran in the RFT this week.Tom Carlson, the art director at the RFT, scanned one of the original sketches I made of “MOE” in my HOPEVILLE sketchbook, and that’s the image that ran. It received “cover of the day” for Sept 23rd on spd.org
Here’s the link for spd.org:http://www.spd.org/