With the Billion Dollars Limited train carrying the gold reserves of an entire small country scheduled to pass through Dick Tracy’s city I thought it only fitting to link the below Billion Dollars Limited Superman cartoon that Team Tracy is honoring. While I don’t know for certain, I have no doubt this story came out of Mike Curtis’s love of all things Superman.
This cartoon was the third of seventeen animated Technicolor short films featuring DC Comics Superman. This particular story centers around a train carrying one billion dollars in gold to the US mint, which is sabotages by robbers before Superman intervenes. The plot is beginning to sound vaguely familiar! This nine minute cartoon was released by Paramount Pictures in 1942 and can be watched below.
Four years ago Joe Staton and Mike Curtis took Dick Tracy’s reigns from the retiring hands of Dick Locher and what a thrilling four years it has been. We’ve seen villains new and old, mixed together in original and complex plots that challenge the full detective crew, their friends and family. We’ve seen history and character development that has long been absent and seen crossovers, tributes and homages that help to pull in new fans. Each summer we look forward to the now annual summer blockbuster and subsequent Harvey Award nomination and win. Mike has moved the stalled Dick Tracy story forward with unrestricted direction and purpose and Joe’s artwork far exceeds anything we could have ever hoped for.
On behalf of myself and the Depot (which is myself), a big thank you to my favorite comic strip duo and the whole Dick Tracy team, including Shelley Pleger, Shane Fisher and Jim Doherty. The last four years of skillfully crafted crime fighting adventure have been a pleasure and I fully expect to be celebrating this March 14th anniversary for many years to come.
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.