It was about an unnamed family -- mom, young adult daughter, teenage son, younger son -- drawn in grotesquely realistic detail.
They spoke in nearly incomprehensible slang and had bizarre customs. There was an "ice box" instead of a refrigerator, a gigantic radio instead of a tv. They bathed in a tub in the kitchen.
Confused, repelled, yet fascinated, I tried to decipher the strips day after day, week after week. The world they portrayed was vastly different than the world I knew.
Boys in my world did not touch each other, except during sports matches and fights. We were expected to find physical contact abhorrent. But in Out Our Way, boys un-selfconsciously pressed against each other, draped their legs over each other's bodies, hugged, slept in the same bed
What sort of world was this?
Many years later, I found that the comics I read in the 1960s were reruns from the 1930s and 1940s, and even then, many had been nostalgic, evoking the author J.R. Williams' childhood at the turn of the century.
I was gazing into a time capsule, into a era when heterosexual desire was expected to appear at the end of adolescence, not at the beginning, so teenage boys were free from the "What girl do you like?" chant.
Later I would write a book about the era: We Boys Together: Teenagers in Love before Girl-Craziness. I discussed Andy Hardy, Jimmy Lydon, Johnny Sheffield, Sabu, Superman, Terry and the Pirates, Alix and Enak, The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen: over 100 movies, radio programs, novels, comic books, and comic strips published between 1930 and 1950.
But it all began with Out Our Way.