Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Above: cover detail from DC Comics' Limited Collectors Edition of Dick Tracy (1975).

I was indifferent to DICK TRACY. I saw it in the newspaper growing up and I had read some of the old strips in those comics history books, but it wasn't until Blackthorne began reprinting the old TRACY strips in comic book and softcover format during the 1980s that I began to see why this highly stylized cops and robbers stories were so well regarded.

TRACY is a markedly narrow strip that leaves no doubt that evil men (and women) exist and good (through sweat and perseverance) will eventually triumph. But while its scope may be narrow, Gould mines deeply. Tracy is the bright light of justice in this dangerous comic strip world. His morals as solid as his chin, this cop is unafraid to use as much violence against the ruthless villains as they themselves dish out.

How grim is Tracy's world? As Don Markstein points out, within the strip's first week, Dick's girlfriend Tess Trueheart is kidnapped and her dear old dad is rubbed out. Mayberry this ain't!

DICK TRACY was created by Chester Gould (1900-1985), who was at the helm 365 days a year from October 4, 1931 to December 25, 1977. Dick Locher has been part of the team behind this Tribune Media strip for over 30 years now.

Here is a series of six cards from the Chester Gould Dick Tracy Museum that were part of a goody bag of items from the 2006 National Cartoonists Society Reubens weekend that was held in Chicago. Each card reproduced some terrific TRACY collectible and then there are interesting facts on the other side of the card. This is the whole set:

Above is the front and back of the first card. These are all square, and about the size of a CD. The even came in a jewel box.

DICK TRACY is a registered trademark of Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Related: "Dick Tracy The Art of Chester Gould:" 200 characters from DICK TRACY 1931-1977


Gerry said...

Hi Mike - this is a fun bit of Tracy Trivia, thanks for sharing it! I was a huge fan as a kid, when it ran on the front page of the Daily News sunday comics section. I not only read it religiously, I used to cut out and collect the "Crimestoppers Textbook" feature.

One of my favorite bits of Tracy trivia was the "strip within a strip" called "Sawdust". It was supposedly a daily gag strip and the continuing characters were just the dots in a pile of sawdust, but the running Tracy gag was that it took a stable of five artists to create it. The five artists were named Chet, Al, Ray, Hap and Rick, which just happened to be the names of Gould's creative staff on Dick Tracy!

BarryCorbett said...

Methinks he threw in Sawdust when he needed a little break. The best thing about Dick Tracy was the Rogue's Gallery.