Zack Mosley’s Smilin’ Jack was the most popular and longest-lived adventure strip about flying. It was created in 1933 and ran for forty years.
He was born in Hickory, Indian Territory, in 1906, a year before the area became part of the new state of Oklahoma. In childhood, he became fascinated with airplanes and began sketching them.
At the age of twenty, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago. Three years later, he was an assistant on the Buck Rogers and Skyroads comic strips. In 1933 he began taking flying lessons and created his own comic strip which made its debut October 2 as On the Wing in the Chicago Tribune. Its title was changed to Smilin’ Jack beginning with the December 30 episode. As part of the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate, Mosely worked with comic greats such as Chester Gould of Dick Tracy and Frank King of Gasoline Alley, among others.
The strip eventually became a radio and movie serial and was featured in comic books and Big Little books.
Mosley became a licensed pilot in 1936 and was one of the founders of the Civil Air Patrol in 1941. He flew over 300 anti-sub patrols of the Atlantic Coast in World War II. For the latter, he received the US Air Medal.