Sometimes I feel like Dick Tracy is regional and I’m in the wrong region. If you live in central Kentucky near Nicholasville (pop 28,000), the Creative Art League of Jessamine County will be doing 3 performances of the Old Time Dick Tracy Radio play, “The Case of the Big Top Murders.” The March 7th and 8th showtimes are already sold out but tickets for the March 14th show were available when last I checked.
The show involves a cast of 13 performers doing the April 6, 1946 radio play live for an audience, complete sound effects, original commercials and a pair of Frank Sinatra songs that should help extend the normal 30 production. You can read more about it on the Jessamine County Journal.
Many Dick Tracy radio broadcasts have survived to the digital age and the Depot has cherry-picked several for our radio section. The Big Top Murders case, however, is not one of them. Instead it has the distinction of being the only Tracy radio show with a full script easily found online. The Create Art League is the latest to take advantage of this script. Doing a Google search on Case of the Big Top Murders will reveal several amateur reproductions of the episode.
Now if you are into fashion, costumes or are just a big fan of Warren Beatty’s 1990 film, Dick Tracy, Arts Illustrated magazine has an article on the vibrant costume design of the movie. With its solid primary colors taken straight from the comic pages and the 20’s and 30’s gangster style, the Dick Tracy movie looked different from anything we’ve seen before or after. While you will have to buy the magazine online or paperback to read the article, Clothes on Film has a preview I found worth reading.
The city of Woodstock, Illinois has declared February 22 Chester Gould Day in honor of a documentary airing on the local WTTW-Channel 11 that day about the late Chester Gould. Titled “Chester Gould: An American Original”, the documentary follows the celebrated cartoonist’s life from his childhood in Oklahoma to the farm where he and his wife, Edna, settled to raise their family. While most of us will be unable to watch the documentary, a nice article about Chester has been written by Jami Kunzer and can be read here. The work was spearheaded by Tom Firak and his sons, John and Steve and based on their comments they hope to fund raise enough for another piece focused on the artistic perspective of Dick Tracy. Some WTTW documentaries have been made available online, so hopefully we’ll find this one on WTTW’s website in the future.
A premiere on Sunday in Woodstock as well and was attended by a number of Dick Tracy dignitaries, including Dick Locher, Max Allan Collins and Jean Gould-O’Connell. Max in particular has written very nicely about the event on his blog at his personal blog.
In honor of Valentines Day I thought we might take a look back at a family of women who have kept Dick Tracy on his toes numerous times over the years. These fiery ladies faced down cops and criminals alike with their killer instincts, lust for cash and sense of vengeance. Yet behind the remorseless exterior, each had a hidden streak of good. I am of course talking about the Mahoney girls.
Breathless Mahoney was the first and most well-known of the four ladies we’ve seen to date, thanks primarily to Madonna, the 1990 Dick Tracy movie and Tracy’s soft spot for lounge singers. That’s right isn’t it? Not so much.
In May of 1945 when Chester Gould introduced Breathless, she joined a series of golden age foes such as Flattop and Pruneface. The attractive and slender blond was the step-daughter of confidence man Shaky whose hidden $50,000 would drive the plot for over a year. Breathless’s recovery of Shaky’s secret treasure led to a tug of war between her and her mother Elia which in turn drew Tracy’s attention to a possible crime. There was no singing or flirtations with our favorite detective, although Pat Patton admitted the girl was aptly named. Breathless was a journalism student, far to interested in the cash prize, which she finally won from her mother after a battle of wills to see who could stay awake longer.
Breathless was determined to keep her money and bludgeoned or killed several men who one by one tried to take her treasure. Eventually she found herself on the farm of B.O. Plenty who also schemed to deprive her of $50,000. Tracy’s investigations led him to Plenty’s farm, but this was before the two knew each other and B.O. was not helpful to the detective. On a second trip, Breathless gave Tracy and B.O. drugged coffee and fled, only to later be caught by B.O. who nearly strangled her to death and left her unconscious. Tracy arrested her soon after but Breathless’s future was sadly short. While in prison she contracted an unidentified but fatal illness. Her life of crime led to a final act of kindness and when she heard news about B.O.’s reform and impending marriage to Gravel Gertie she wrote a letter absolving him of his crimes.
Today Dick Tracy begins to get a little funky with the Funky Winkerbean universe wandering right into the Dick Tracy world. Things have begun innocently enough, Dick and Sam are on the way to Finley’s Pharmacy, last visited during the climax of the Jumbler case. The Jumbler case you may recall was part of a Dick Tracy / Daily Jumble crossover in 2013. Today we have a comic book auction for a Westview charity in the works. Don’t see the crossover yet? I’ll point it out. Westview High School is one of the focal points of the Funky Winkerbean universe and even better, take a look at today’s Monday Funky strip, which features Funkyverse slackers John Howard (a comic shop owner) and Crazy Harry (I think, not an expert here) heading to the same charity auction! It’s unclear how long the crossover might last, but it looks like Funky himself will make an appearance Tuesday and we may want to spend time reading both strips!
Read the full panels at www.gocomics.com/dicktracy and http://comicskingdom.com/funky-winkerbean.
Hopefully Joe Staton won’t mind if I boost one of his comments regarding today’s Sunday (1/18/2015) strip. I found it pretty cool and goes to show the talent working for Team Tracy with inker/letterer Shelley Pleger it stepping up.
“Secrets of the comics revealed. Mike Curtis and I had some problems with the original version of this Sunday and we were running out of time.Shelley Pleger, our resourceful inker/letterer sprang into action. “Here’s a sketch, guys, maybe this will work,” she said. “Perfect!” we replied, and I inked her sketch and it was done. We’re sure she could go on without either of us if the need ever arose.” – Joe
Let me add my voice to chorus, well done Shelley!
Also check out the Ask Chris series on comicsalliance.com where Chris explains the recent Dick Tracy and Little Orphan Annie crossover to the lay person, describing it as the weirdest crossover of 2014. It’s a humorous yet very accurate piece!