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.
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!
Mural in Pawnee, Oklahoma by Ed Melberg in 1990.
Chester Gould’s hometown of Pawnee, Oklahoma celebrates Dick Tracy’s birthday each year and will do so again this coming Saturday in what is now an annual historical society event. Chester was born in Pawnee on Nov 20th, 1900 and although he moved to Chicago in 1921 and came to live in Woodstock, he always remembered his roots, calling out former Pawnee classmates by naming stores and such after them during a case.
World Scene Writer Jimmie Tramel has written a nice article for the Tulsa World on the Pawnee celebration with quotes from Chester and his brother Ray from early 30’s and 40’s interviews. Here’s the link if you are interested.
Easter Egg, homage, having a little fun, whatever you call it, Mike Curtis and Joe Staton are masters of slipping in references to old comic strips. For the past several months one has been staring me in the face and I didn’t have the slightest clue! As we know, Dick Tracy and Annie Warbucks are trapped in a 1944 version of Simmons Corner, where most of the townsfolk are brainwashed by a daily “Belinda” radio show. While we caught the similarities between the radio shows secret code and a Dick Tracy Radio Secret Codes, I was surprised to learn in yesterdays interview (read it!) with Mike and Joe at Comic Book Resources that Belinda herself was an English version of Little Orphan Annie!
The Mirror, Dec 23, 1941
Belinda Blue Eyes was first published September 30, 1935 in the UK’s Daily Mirror by Bill Connor and Steve Dowling who signed with the name “Gloria”. Belinda was a blond-haired orphan waif of similar age and adventuresome spirit to Annie. The Mirror was Britain’s most important newspaper for strip cartoons and much of their early success came from copying American ideas but adding a regional twist for the home market. In addition to Belinda Blue Eyes, the Mirror introduced England to Buck Ryan (Dick Tracy), Just Jake (Li’L Abner) and Garth (Part Superman, Part Terry and the Pirates).
According to Steve Dowling, the Mirror’s Guy Bartholomew was fanatical about comic strips, having been an artist himself and his excitement towards the medium can be summed up with this 1941 comic page. With World War II paper rationing in effect, the Mirror was limited to 8 pages a day yet still they included a full-page of comics. This one page may have been an important momentary reprieve for British citizens directly threatened by the dominant German war machine.
The Belinda strip ended October 17, 1959 with artist Tony Royle and writer Don Freeman at the helm, and now you know.
Thanks to Mike and Joe for keeping it fun!