Dick Tracy Special (2009)


Warren Beatty as Dick Tracy in 1990 movie

When I was growing up our small town had a single two screen theater where I and my friends were regulars.  We had a spot in the front row on the far left side where I sat next to the wall so I could put my feet up on a supporting beam.  Thinking back on it, this was the worst seat in the theater but at the time I thought we were pretty cool.  Indiana Jones, Back to the Future and Batman were the big movies of the time and I dragged my brother who was four years younger and still in grade school along with me.  In 1990, Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy came out and it was full of bullets, colors and gangsters.  I won’t tell you it changed my life, I think it had too much Madonna, but it did stick with my brother.  He really got into the movie and soon had an entire line of Dick Tracy figurines based on the movie and while I wouldn’t be caught dead playing with toys by 8th grade, I did get my hands on them when no one was looking so Dick Tracy could heroically gun down Big Boy, Pruneface, Flattop and the others.  Sam usually bought it in the crossfire because it was more dramatic.

I reminisce on this because a couple of years ago I was wondering why we haven’t seen a Dick Tracy movie or television show reboot.  Sherlock Holmes, Batman, heck even the Green Hornet have seen nostalgic resurrections and a serialized Dick Tracy with detective work, fierce action and signature villains sounds like a slam dunk.  The reason we haven’t seen Dick Tracy again stems back to Warren Beatty and the 1990 movie.  Beatty has great affection for the Dick Tracy character and has retained the film rights to Tracy since the movie.  In 2011 the Tribune Company, which had sold Beatty the movie rights sued Warren on the grounds he was no longer using said rights, which was a clause in the contract.  Surprisingly, Mr. Beatty won the legal battle with the help of the Dick Tracy Special.


Leonard Maltin interviews “Dick Tracy”

The Dick Tracy Special you say?  What the heck is that?  Warren Beatty produced this low-budget special in 2009 which served primarily to show he still had plans for Dick Tracy. The half-hour broadcast aired one-time and features Warren playing the role of Dick Tracy as Entertainment Tonight movie reviewer and film historian Leonard Maltin interviews “Dick Tracy”.  Beatty plays Dick as a real detective who has a comic strip and many movies created about his exploits and the interview feels like something we’ve seen time and again in the comic strip.  When asked about his age, Tracy finally admits that he is indeed over 100 years old, but that pomegranates are the key to youth.  Although interviewing a fictional person, Maltin stays true to his classic interviewing form, asking Dick his opinion on various subjects while keeping the audience historically informed with a couple good segments on Tracy’s film history.

The interview portion of the special comes off as a bit odd.  Here we have Tracy/Beatty commenting on the actors who have portrayed him in film and Tracy/Beatty finds himself discussing Beatty and his 1990 film.  Tracy is a bit harsh towards the actor, wishing he was more like Ralph Byrd and wondering about his knee-jerk liberalism.  Still, it’s funny to see Warren poke fun at his public image and I get the sense he really loves the Dick Tracy character.  If we take him at his word, Mr. Beatty still believes he can get a Dick Tracy sequel done, although at his age and after so many years this writer has doubts.  Former strip writer Max Allan Collins wrote the novelization of the Dick Tracy movie and two follow-up novels and I suspect that is the closest we will get to a Dick Tracy sequel and a Beatty led reboot would make much more sense.

While never sold as a DVD or re-broadcast, the Dick Tracy Special is still under copyright. However, like many other television snippets, it can be found on YouTube and will probably remain there until such time as a copyright holder asks it be brought down.  That may never happen with a piece such as this.  The Dick Tracy song when the credits roll quickly got added to my playlist and was done by Gertrude Forsher, Ben Wiesman and Fred Wise of The Chants.  Judging by the lyrics, it came out with the 1961-62 animated Dick Tracy cartoon.

Charlie Wise Minit Mystery Begins Today

A new Dick Tracy Minit Mystery begins today, featuring guest writer and artist Charlie Wise. Charlie puts a great deal of time and effort on his Groovy, Kinda webcomic which follows Larry Pye and his hilarious misadventures with love, relationships and the strange, strange town Innesmount in the 51st state of Jefferson.

As a reminder, these Minit Mysteries are two week affairs, featuring guest artists that challenge the daily Dick Tracy readers to solve the mystery before the end of the story. This one is shaping up to feature fan-favorite Mysta “Moon Maid” Chimera and I’ve already cracked a smile out of the Jelly Doughnut bit with Tracy as the dastardly thief. Charlie has a great perspective and style that is going to be a lot of fun to read.

Head on over to GoComics to read the full daily and keep up on the action over the coming weeks while most of us are stuck at home.

This and That, Pins and Teasers

Calling all Moon Maid fans, calling all moon maid fans. News just in that the electrifying Mysta Chimera will be very active in 2020 with a starring role in the story after the one beginning right now. That story, keen eyed Dick Tracy fans are deducing, will involve Splitface, a.k.a Haf and Haf. We also might get another surprise appearance, but I’m not saying any more.

I’m sure (super sure) I’m stealing someone’s thunder, but next summer we will also see a new Minit Mystery written and drawn by a groovy fellow by the name of Charlie Wise. Charlie’s been busy doing his own thing but is taking a time out to dive into the world of Dick Tracy. Can’t wait to see how he handles Moon Maid.

Baltimore Comic Con is coming up, November 18-20th. Baltimore is a big one, with a massive number of artistic alums. Our favorite, Dick Tracy artist Joe Staton will also be there. If you attending, make sure and stop by to pick up one of the new DICK TRACY PINS. I still need one!

As mentioned in the previous post, the ONLY TIME WILL TELL free comic, normally given away by Mike and Joe at shows will go to press in December. The Only Time Will Tell story is one you might remember, guest starring George Takei. This free comic will also include the Jim Doherty Minit Mystery. Can’t wait!

Supporting our friend Mike

Mike Curtis and Chowderhead

When I first started the Depot I was illegitimate. Documenting old stories, making lists of characters and using panel art, secure in my opinion I was lost on page 100 of most search algorithms. So my stomach dropped like a brick when I received a “To whom it may concern…” email from the TMS licensing department. To my amazement, it wasn’t a bad email. Instead I was told the current Dick Tracy creators had came across my little website. Praising me for enthusiasm, TMS granted permission to continue with some very minor legalize at the bottom of the page. I was (and still am) thrilled and I know I have Mike Curtis to thank for it.

How do I know? Three days after that heart-dropping email I received another email, this time from Mr. Curtis. “Hi, Joe and Hilarie are on their way home from the convention and took pix at the DT statue with Jim Brozman and Dick Locher. I asked him to send you the pictures when they return. Take care, – Mike” Yes, yes, yes I’m sure I replied.

Since that day six years ago, Mike has consistently kept me abreast with Dick Tracy news, dropping crossover teasers, convention notes and so much more. And I’m not the only one. Following various Dick Tracy groups, I see Mike interacting with all of them. Always friendly, always sharing. Take the Dick Tracy free comics for example. Not everyone can make a convention. Mike takes the time to personally make their day, sending comics to any who ask. As someone who’s done wedding invitations, that can take a lot of time!

Call to Action

Currently, my friend, our friend, Mike Curtis is having a serious health problem. He has been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. The doctors don’t know everything yet, but what is known is that tests (and now more invasive tests) are expensive. Mike could use some help with those costs, he has said as much. Comic writers, Joe Staton unfortunately informed us, are not covered by Detective Tracy’s health plan.

A GoFundMe Page has been set up to help Mike out. If you can make a donation, or even if you are just wanting to support in spirit, I ask you to visit the page and see how things are going. Every little bit we do can help relieve some of the stress.

Thanks for reading,
Jeremy @ the Depot