The Baltimore Comic-Con has come and gone, leaving us excitedly looking ahead to the next Dick Tracy crossover! With all four members in attendance (handing this out!), the Dick Tracy creative team unveiled the awesome poster to the left, teasing an incredible future meeting with The Spirit! Coordinating and getting permissions for these crossovers is no doubt a exhaustive effort and credit to Mike for making these things happen!
“So”, some of you might be asking, “I know the name, but who is the Spirit?” The Spirit was created by Will Eisner at the behest of newspapers looking to get in on the emerging comic book market in 1940. Eisner’s new crime fighter was a 7-8 page comic insert inside of newspapers called “The Spirit Section”. The artwork and writing for these comics was top notch but due to specialized printing requirements and costs, the Spirit was only carried by a select group of newspapers.
The Spirit himself was a young detective by name of Danny Colt who was presumed killed in the first pages of the premiere story but awakens from suspended animation (for reasons) in the Wildwood Cemetery where he establishes a base and begins fighting crime while wearing a small domino mask and fedora hat.
Originating but not tied to his home city, the Spirit’s adventures took him around the globe where he met all manner of upper and lower class citizens, bringing his own form of justice to all of them. The story style and tone frequently changed as Eisner’s interests led him to explore different genres but certain themes remained constant: the love between him and Ellen, the annual “Christmas Spirit” stories and his arch-nemesis, the Octopus, a criminal master of disguise. According to Eisner,
“When I created The Spirit, I never had any intention of creating a superhero. I never felt The Spirit would dominate the feature. He served as a sort of an identity for the strip. The stories were what I was interested in.”
The Spirit slid away into the night around 1952 although comic reprints are common. In any case, I’ll stop regurgitating Spirit information you can probably find on Wikipedia. The exciting part is the Spirit and Dick Tracy will be meeting this coming January! It will be very interesting to see what foe (foes?) the pair will match wits with and how deep the crossover goes. Will we get a Fearless Fosdick style mini-story or a full on Little Orphan Annie length crossover? I’d wager somewhere in between, but we’ll find out together!
Teaser poster by Shane Fisher, courtesy of Mike Curtis. (Facebook)
copied honored by Vera Alldid as Dick Tracy parody J Straightedge Trustworthy. He’s been mentioned in passing once twice probably at least three times by struggling comic strip writer Vera Alldid. To many, or Mr. Alldid at least, he’s great in ways that Dick Tracy could only wish. Now, straight from the crossover loving mind of the man himself (Mr. Curtis), the one and only Fearless Fosdick is on his way this summer!
Alldid better have his autograph book. We can’t wait to see how this plays out.
Wait, what’s a Fosdick? Time to drop a little Fearless knowledge.
Al Capp, well-known creator of Li’L Abner and all around hilarious satirist created the famous Dick Tracy parody, Fearless Fosdick roughly 74 years ago 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.
In addition to battling villains, Fosdick maintained a rich love life with a perpetual 17 year engagement to his very own Tess Trueheart, here named Prudence Pimpleton. Unlike Tracy, Fosdick would never marry. Fosdick’s crime-fighting style was incredibly violent, excessive and dedicated to the extreme. Drawn wearing suit and cap with a razor-sharp jawbone, Fosdick was according to his creator, “pure, underpaid, purposeful” and of notorious bad aim. “When Fosdick is after a law-breaker, there is no escape for the miscreant,” Capp wrote in 1956. “There is, however, a fighting chance to escape for hundreds of innocent bystanders who happen to be in the neighborhood – but only a fighting chance. Fosdick’s duty, as he sees it, is not so much to maintain safety as to destroy crime.” A prime example of this is “The Case of the Poisoned Beans”, wherein Fearless Fosdick proceeds to slaughter dozens of citizens to protect them from consuming tainted beans. You can read 20 full pages of the Poisoned Bean case here.
I have a confession that will surprise no one. I am a huge Ralph Byrd fan. Oh I wasn’t originally, but in my endeavors to learn everything there is to learn about Dick Tracy I quickly came upon the Dick Tracy Serials, Movies and Television all starring Ralph Byrd. I watched and collected everything I could find, I edited video, cleaned footage (to the best of my untrained eye) and documented each chapter of the adventure. I saw a lot of Ralph Byrd, and when I think of Tracy on film, I see Mr. Byrd in my mind’s eye.
So I’m excited to see a character honoring both Ralph Byrd and fellow Tracy portraying actor, Morgan Conway in today’s strip. I’ve seen Conway in his two movies as well, and there is nothing wrong with his performance. Chester Gould himself preferred Conway to Byrd, but Ralph is still Dick Tracy in my heart. I’ve been sitting on this biography for a while now, and I feel today is a good day to let it out.
The Sam that was this Sam sure ain’t
Speaks as a thug without restraint.
Should have stuck to a toothpick
For 88 the end comes quick.
Mirror, mirror on the wall
This world is strangest of them all.
Up is down and wrong is right
Villain Sam is an odd sight.
The Sam that was this Sam is not
I fear that Keyes shall soon be shot.
Tracy poet Pequod’s poem helps us kick off Dick Tracy’s next story, titled “Midnight Mirror” by writer Mike Curtis. The story title, also the name a local newspaper is key and this evil looking Sam Catchem accosting a man named Keyes has certainly opened some reader eyes. Has good and evil been flipped, are we in a dream sequence, can this all be explained with twin brothers? The theories are flying and we can’t wait to find out!
Magnetic Air Cars fly again today, unfortunately under the control of an escaping Mr. Bribery. While I usually resist a day to day discussion of the comic strip (I have a day job), the return of Air Cars, like the Space Coupe before them is far too tempting! A younger reader might be wondering what the heck is that flying thimble! That’s excuse enough for me to talk Air Cars.
The Air Car first appeared August 30th, 1964 and four were presented to the police department as a way for the Moon Governor to apologize for his horrid behavior towards Diet, Dick Tracy and Junior after he misguidedly tried to protect Moon Maid from harm by forcing her return to the Moon. Like the Space Coupe, Air Cars were magnetic powered, meaning they were fast, handled like a breeze and flew whisper quiet. Tracy happily accepted the Air Cars and immediately put them to use in the Chet Jade case and they saw use time and time again throughout the space period.
Mr. Bribery himself has had first hand experienced of the Air Car’s usefulness. Hiding out from police and those he had blackmailed, Bribery was finally captured when Tracy drove his air car through an apartment window and landed on top of the eccentric villain. This method of capture was a Gould favorite as Sam captured Posie Ermine (Mysta Chimera’s dad) in much the same way. It seems fitting that Bribery is now bursting out of a window, attempting to make his escape.
According to Diet Smith, all Moon tech was destroyed or returned to the Moon years ago after the Governor cut ties with Earth. As the Air Car shown was clearly labelled as a car belonging to the police force it will be interesting to see how Bribery has managed to procure it for his own personal use.
P.S. – I’d like to give props to Mr. Curtis for including Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” lyrics in today’s strip. Live and Let Die was the title song of the 1973 James Bond movie of the same name, which, no surprise featured a villain by the named of Mr. Big (Bribery’s alias in 2015).