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).
Mr. Bribery’s return has been finally confirmed. Teased and hinted at for months, Bribery’s return comes nearly on the 50 year anniversary of his first appearance on July 3rd of 1965. Bribery was a clever and colorful villain with loads of personality and was behind most crimes and attempts on Tracy’s life between 1965 and 1967. He is certainly one of the most remembered villains of Chester Gould’s space period. His rather unexpected death with no body shown at the hands of the Chin Chillars in 1967 seemed to put an end to his career but the loose ends were never tied up, leaving open the possibility of a return.
Now unless you are a newspaper strip collector it can be difficult to re-read Mr. Bribery’s entire arc as they have never been published in their entirety. To help out the casual Dick Tracy reader, below is the Depot’s history of Mr. Bribery….if you need it. Enjoy!
Russ Burlingame of ComicBook.com broke the news that Little Orphan Annie will return to Dick Tracy in the near future to help young Honeymoon Tracy deal with bullying. This is a nice move by Curtis and Staton to help bring attention to a real issue for many kids. Anyone who has read Annie understands that the little orphan has dealt with bullies much of her life, making her the perfect guest star for a story of this sort. Russ’s article is a nice piece with comments by Mike and insight into the story development. I encourage you to give it a read!