The PA History Society is proud to present our special edition, commemorative comic book: The Adventures of Chipper Wallet, PA-C! For those of you who may not be familiar with Chipper Wallet, he is a character from the syndicated comic strip, Gasoline Alley. In 1968, Chipper Wallet joined the Navy, became a hospital corpsman, and was sent to Vietnam. When he came home in the early 1970s, he joined one of the early Physician Assistant programs on the advice of the town doctor. Chipper Wallet is credited for being one of the major influences that brought the new PA profession to the attention of the general U.S. public. Chipper Wallet has a fond place in the hearts of many pioneering Pas who started as corpsmen and medics as his journey to become a PA mirrors their own.
The Society has been working on this project for about a year. The idea to compile the comic strips into a commemorative comic book as part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration started with the Society’s Historian Emeritus and Co-founder, Dr. Reginald Carter. Dr. Carter reached out to the current cartoonist of Gasoline Alley, Jim Scancarelli, to ask if he would make an image of Chipper wishing PAs a happy 50th anniversary that could be made into a poster. Scancarelli did one better, and re-introduced Chipper into the comic strip with a storyline that cumulated into Chipper “attending” the dedication ceremony of the PA Veterans Memorial Garden (an actual even that took place on April 8, 2017 at the Stead Center. Dr. Carter even has a cameo in the strip!
Dr. Carter then came to the conclusion that we needed to collect, not only the new Chipper storylines, but also the pivotal early strips that deal with Chipper becoming a Physician Assistant. Through a combined, heroic effort, the Society’s intrepid archivist (me) and Dr. Carter were able to track down several archives that had the older strips that were graciously scanned and sent to us (a big thanks to the Duke University Archives!). Dr. Carter also put in a lot of time and effort by going through the digital copies of newspapers on Newsbank to get the strips that we needed to fill in the gaps.
The Chicago Tribune, who own the rights to the Gasoline Alley comic strip, gave us the go ahead and Jim Scancarelli designed a cover, and we have a wonderful, vintage comic book for PAs everywhere!
We will be debuting the comic book at the AAPA Conference in Las Vegas, for a donation of $10, and then will be offering it on our website (if we don’t sell out). Make sure you get yours as soon as possible!
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