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!
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!
The family of Dick Tracy creator Chester Gould has donated a large collection of original strip artwork and other related materials to The Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. Included in the collection of 850 original comic strips are the first 30 days of the strip and Chester’s drawing board, which he used for 46 years. The collection will be housed in climate-controlled storage space inside the museum and made available to researchers and the public in the coming months. If you live near Columbus and have an interest, a visit in the later part of the year might be in order.
For more information and comments from the Gould family, see the Helden files blog.
Hey all, if you have the time, take a stroll on over to Sam Tweedle’s Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict where Sam interviews Dick Tracy writer Mike Curtis. It’s a great interview with some very detailed answers by Mike with a great deal of focus placed on the current return of Moon Maid plot line. The interview teases us with upcoming stories including a possible appearance by Gordon Tracy (a brother and key player in the first Dick Tracy serial). As collectors of all things Tracy on the Depot, we are super excited about these developments!