Earlier this year struggling comic strip writer Vera Alldid introduced Dick Tracy to parody of himself in the form of J Straightedge Trustworthy. Mike Curtis and Joe Staton gave us Straightedge’s insulting funny paper appearance in full form one Sunday in March and long time readers know this is not the first time we’ve seen a strip inside the Dick Tracy comic. Tracy’s creator Chester Gould featured two fictional strips himself during the 60′s and 70′s. The first was Sawdust, written by Chet Jade who was himself a parody of Gould. In Sawdust, many motes of sawdust (dots on paper) tell wood themed jokes and the lovely Moon Maid later became a key writer of Sawdust strip. The other comic within a comic was Vera Alldid’s first strip, The Invisible Tribe. A lazily drawn comic strip that mimicked Alldid’s demeanor, the Invisible Tribe featured invisible characters telling jokes to each other.
While continuing the tradition of a strip within a strip, Alldid’s J Straightedge Trustworthy is also homage to Al Capp’s famous Dick Tracy parody, Fearless Fosdick. As Li’l Abner’s favorite comic crime fighter and “ideel” role model, Fosdick first appeared in 1942 and was promptly shot. Fosdick could not be bothered by “mere scratches” however, and reported back to his corrupt Chief and over the next decade went on to battle an absurd succession of Dick Tracy-esque enemies like Rattop, Bombface, the Chippendale Chair and Sidney the Crooked Parrot.
Congratulations again this year to Mike Curtis and Joe Staton, who have been nominated for the 2014 Harvey Award for Best Syndicated Strip or Panel. Team Tracy won the 2013 award, a first for the Dick Tracy comic strip and the Depot wishes them luck as they try to make it two in a row.
The Harvey Awards are a leading comic award that is presented each year at the Baltimore Comic-Com and recognizes outstanding work in comics and sequential art in honor of the late Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993). Nominations are chosen by and voted on by other comic book professionals (i.e. those who write, draw, ink, letter, color, design, edit and otherwise create), meaning the honors are given out, not by fans, but by peers in industry.
The full list of nominees for “Best Syndicated Strip or Panel” are,
- Dick Tracy, Joe Staton and Mike Curtis, Tribune Media Services
- Fox Trot, Bill Amend, Universal Uclick
- Get Fuzzy, Darby Conley, Universal Uclick
- Mutts, Patrick McDonnell, King Features Syndicate
- The Phantom, Tony DePaul and Paul Ryan, King Features Syndicate
Balloting will continue until Monday, August 18th and while we are of course rooting for Mike and Joe there is some good competition with Get Fuzzy and the perennial favorite Mutts back on the ballot along with long loved Fox Trot and adventure strip, The Phantom. Winners will be revealed on September, 6, 2013 at the Baltimore Comic-Con.
Just a quick update for those who love to see our favorite detective making the news outside of a Wendy Wichel hatchet job. The New York Times ran a story today (June 24th) on the Dick Tracy’s search for the missing Annie. Those with a New York edition of the paper can find it in print on page C3. (Hopefully Mike and Joe get a copy) The rest of us can read George Gene Gustine’s article on their ArtsBeat blog here. We here are particularly interested in what art changes we might see when Annie arrives.
The Time’s isn’t the only one printing some words on old Tracy. Chris Sims of Comics Alliance has written an article on Dick’s quest to solve the mystery of Annie’s abduction cliffhanger, calling this the Crossover of the Year. Chris writes from the perspective of a non-regular Tracy/Annie reader and just might make you chuckle. Give it a read if you have the time. Cheers.
Sam Tweedle of Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict has a great interview with both Mike and Joe about the Annie storyline and how the strip is progressing. As is always the case with Sam’s work, it’s a great interview. Check it out!
So far we’ve just been teased but something fantastic seems to be happening at Diet Smith Industries. Joe Staton’s June 18th rendering of Diet Smith’s new tower project bears a resemblance to Nikola Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower. Funded by a Diet like predecessor, J.P. Morgan, Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower was a pilot plant for a worldwide system of wireless towers that could provide electricity wirelessly through the atmosphere and possibly control the weather and communicate text and images across the globe. Out of this world concepts in 1900 and exciting even today. Unfortunatly for Tesla, Guglielmo Marconi’s far cheaper invention of the trans-Atlantic wireless telegraph signal effectively ended his dreams of a wirelessly powered planet. While we are simply basing this theory on a single strip panel, this does sound like something Diet might be interested in. Plus it gives us a chance to plug our favorite Damn Interesting website where you can read more about Tesla’s Tower of Power!
Today (June 19th), Diet Smith told Oliver Warbucks and Dick Tracy of his plans to recreate the Philadelphia Experiment, an alleged 1943 military experiment involving invisibility, teleportation and possibly time-travel. There are many competing stories on the experiment, which involved enveloping the USS Eldridge in an invisibility field. This field was created by bending light around the Navy Destroyer. According to unified field theory, the process of bending light also bends space-time which can cause teleportation and time-travel. The USS Eldridge is said to have vanished from Philadelphia, teleported briefly to Norfolk Virginia and returned, with many crew members made sick, crazy or embedded into bulk heads. If Diet is trying to re-create this experiment, we wonder which parts he’s really interested in and hope he’s keeping his employees safe! I’m sure all these answers will be coming soon and we can’t wait to see what’s really going on!
With the Dick Tracy/Annie crossover kicking into high gear we thought it might be nice to do a quick Annie Roll Call to familiarize Dick Tracy readers with the Annie characters. The Depot admits most of our familiarity with Annie comes from the movies so we’ll be learning here as well. Feel free to chime in with any information you care to add!
We all should know this one, the curly red-haired Annie was an 11-year-old orphan known for wearing a red dress and having vacant circles for eyes. Her February 29th birthday is attributed to her perpetual youthfulness. A plucky and compassionate girl, Annie has a strong sense of right and wrong and had no fear of larger bullies. When the Annie comic strip was cancelled in June of 2010 Annie had been kidnapped from her hotel by a wanted European war criminal known as the “Butcher of the Balkans”. When the strip ended the two had gone to Guatemala and the Butcher told the heroine she had a new life with him now. GoComics (see previous link) has the end of Annie’s run on their website so if you have time you could reade about it there. Annie’s most famous catchphrases, “Gee Whiskers” and “Leapin’ Lizards!” will hopefully be uttered sometime this summer!
Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks
Oliver Warbucks started as a small machine shop owner who acquired enormous wealth producing munitions during World War I. A well-built bald man, Warbucks is typically depicted wearing a tuxedo and diamond stick pin in his shirt as he has grown very rich over the years. He is somewhat similar to Diet Smith in this regard. Oliver liked Annie from the first time they met, asking her to call him “Daddy” and taking the girl under his wing despite the protests of his wife. Warbucks has been searching for Annie since she was taken by the Butcher and has begun to worry he may never find her.
The Asp and Punjab
These two are Warbuck’s right-hand men. They have been referred to as bodyguards, but they have many more skills than simple bodyguards. Punjab is an eight-foot native of India, depicted with the classic Indian headpiece while the Asp is a suit-wearing man, possibly of East Asian heritage. We admit we know very little about these two but both were introduced in the mid-1930′s and remained part of the strip ever since.
Mister Am is a very mysterious character in the Annie comic strip, drawn with a long beard and written with a jovial personality. He seems to have lived for thousands of years (since before cities) and has shown strange supernatural powers. Still, he is not all-powerful or knowledgable but is far more capable than any other living being. Am’s motives and who he chooses to help and how have been subject to much speculation, as has his true identity, which some have suggested may in fact be God, Santa Claus or Methuselah. Read more about Mr. Am here.
Sandy was a puppy Annie rescued from a gang of abusive boys and has grown and remained with Annie ever since 1925. Like Annie herself, we’ve not seen Sandy in the Dick Tracy strip and it’s unclear if Sandy is currently with Annie or in fact safe and sound with Oliver Warbucks.