Dick Tracy Joins the Search for Annie

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tracy-AnnieCHICAGO (March 28, 2014) — Faithful readers who’ve wondered what happened to Annie Warbucks will learn all the hair-raising details when two of the greatest adventure comic strips of all time collide starting June 1 in the daily and Sunday adventures of “Dick Tracy.”

When last seen on Sunday, June 13, 2010, in the “Annie” strip’s finale, Annie Warbucks was in the clutches of the war criminal known as “The Butcher of the Balkans” somewhere in Guatemala. Although this notorious assassin assured Annie she wouldn’t meet the same gruesome end as his countless other victims, he warned her she’d never see Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks again and that for the rest of her life she’d accompany him on his deadly travels.

That cliffhanger left unanswered the fate of the courageous young woman whose globe-spanning adventures have thrilled millions since her Aug. 5, 1924, debut and inspired a Broadway musical and two motion pictures based on the show — the most recent set to hit the big screen Christmas 2014. Now, thanks to “Dick Tracy” artist Joe Staton and writer Mike Curtis, fans won’t need to wonder much longer about Annie’s fate.

According to Curtis, it turns out that after some time spent fruitlessly searching the world for his beloved adopted daughter, Warbucks has decided to enlist the help of the only man who can rescue Annie: Dick Tracy.

“As a lifelong admirer of Annie, I felt the need to unravel her disappearance,” says Curtis, who’s helmed “Dick Tracy” with Staton since March 2011. Curtis’ previous writing credits include “Richie Rich” and “Casper the Friendly Ghost” for Harvey Comics.

“Joe and I have planned Annie’s rescue for some time, and we’ll deliver action-packed, over-the-top thrills and chills as the two features combine their casts for what we hope will be the most historic tale in comic strip history,” Curtis says.

Staton says this story arc is a dream come true for him. “Whether I’m working in the DC, Marvel or any other universe, it’s always a privilege to be standing on the shoulders of so many giants,” he says. The artist, who’s been drawing comics for many years and has more than 1,000 credits under his belt, is perhaps best known for his work with the Green Lantern series, for which he created several alien Green Lanterns, including Kilowog, Salakk and Arisia.

“Dick Tracy” was created by Chester Gould, and “Little Orphan Annie” created by his friend Harold Gray. Both are owned and trademarked properties of Tribune Content Agency. Fans across the country, as well as the industry, have given the creative team of Staton and Curtis high marks for having breathed new life into the iconic adventure strip. “Dick Tracy” won the comics world’s signature Harvey Award in 2013 for Best Syndicated Strip. The strip is produced by artist Staton and writer Curtis, along with inker Shelley Pleger, colorist Shane Fisher and technical consultant Sgt. Jim Doherty.

For more details, use our Response Form and we’ll provide you with contact information for Mike Curtis “Dick Tracy” writer and Leigh Hanlon, Associate Editor.  (I don’t want to post their email’s here for a spam bot to pick up)

Flattop Junior’s Car

Fifty-seven and a half years after it’s destruction, Flattop Junior’s car has returned.  Swindler and murderer Silver Nitrate and his sister Sprocket are on the run from the police and have just the vehicle to escape, the sweet ride of the late Flattop Jr!

NitrateCarIntroduced in March of 1956, the teenage son of Flattop was a mechanical genius who modified his ride with features well ahead of his time. Sporting a dash-board fridge, passenger side television and safe, with a running water sink and a hot plate stove in the back, young Jones and his passenger Joe Period lived for a time in the car, listening to tunes on a hi-fi LP record player.  Everything was available at the push of a button and hid back into the vehicle just as easily.  To help keep ahead of the cops, Flattop Jr. also installed a short wave radio scanner, bulletproof glass and a hidden emergency brake to keep the vehicle where he left it.

FlattopInCarThe Junior Jones’s car is one of the well remembered technical marvels created by Chester Gould.  It reminds some of the James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, but that spy-mobile didn’t come about until Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger in 1959 (the movie came later) so Flattop’s vehicle has seniority.  As an interesting side note, Fleming was also the author of another well-known car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which he wrote for his son Caspar.

As if often the case of these engineering marvels, destruction occured.  Flattop Jr’s awesome car was trapped inside an abandoned theater when police surrounded him and he chose to burn the theater down.  The vehicle was torched with very little besides the frame surviving.  Still it allowed the teenage criminal cover to escape…for a time.  Now it appears the vehicle has been restored to its original glory and will once again take part in a classic Dick Tracy chase, which begs the question, where do Silver and Sprocket put their Hyena, Lena?

FlattopCarRuins

Captain Video with Vitamin Flintheart

CaptainVideoTitleFrom a mountaintop in the distant future, citizen-scientist Captain Video and his Video Rangers battle the evil of the Astroidal Society preserve peace in the future.  This was the plot of a nightly science fiction show, featuring outlandish weapons and high-tech gizmos.  Captain Video we now know was also aging thespian Vitamin Flintheart’s debut in show business!  Wandering into the DuMont building, Flintheart was cast as one of the Captain’s Video Rangers, but sadly footage of the film was lost…until now!

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On Stage, Mary Perkins!

MaryPerkinsIn classic Mike Curtis fashion, today’s Dick Tracy Sunday features Mary Perkins from the On Stage comic strip.  It looks as though Mary will be co-starring with Vitamin Flintheart, (Perhaps they are doing King Lear).  This marks another retired Tribune Media Services strip crossover, a great way to keep the old strips alive.  The On Stage strip was always well drawn and Joe Staton does a great job duplicating Mary’s look for the panels of Dick Tracy.

MaryPerkinsOn Stage, Mary Perkins was written by Leonard Starr and ran from Feb 10th, 1957 to September 9, 1979.  The strip was a soap opera style backstage broadway drama that followed the career of actress Mary Perkins.  Filming in New York, Hollywood and on international sets across the world, On Stage also brought us adventure and humor to keep the drama from getting to deep.  Unfortunately for Mary, the strip came to conclusion with Leonard left to take over Little Orphan Annie.  Some of you may remember, the Annie strip crossed over into Dick Tracy in 2013, so now two of Starr’s works are in the Tracy universe, Mary and Annie could meet!.  Classic Comic Press has been releasing collected volumes of On Stage.

Dick Tracy’s Brother – Gordon Tracy

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Gordon and Dick (Richard Beach and Ralph Byrd)

In the November 10th Sunday strip, Christmas Early interviewed Dick Tracy for a television broadcast and asked a long overdue question, does Dick Tracy have a family.  Chester Gould never gave us much back ground on Detective Tracy, and we got the sense Dick was an only child and had outlived his parents.  But Gould commonly excluded non-essential family members from his tales.  Take Tess’s mother, Mrs. Trueheart took part in the first stories with the murder of her husband Emil, and then she vanished for decades, only appearing briefly during Tess and Dick’s wedding.

So it is fun to see Dick answer the questions about his family, revealing that his parents were Chester and Edna Tracy, honoring his creator and his wife Edna.  Tracy uses the word “were”, implying his parents have passed away.  We also learn of a sister, Jean, honoring Chester’s daughter Jean Gould O’Connell, an author in her own right.  Jean says in her biography of her father that she thinks of Tracy as her brother and now Mike Curtis has made the feeling mutual!

The final family member, Gordon Tracy is said to have been lost long ago in a car crash after a criminal named “The Lame One”.  Here Mike has written the character of Gordon Tracy, found in the first Dick Tracy Serial into the strip that came out in 1937. For old cinefiles like myself, this is awesome.

GordonTracyFor those who don’t want to watch 15 serial episodes to find out the significance, Gordon Tracy was indeed Dick’s brother and an attorney that assisted the FBI.  Unfortunately, Gordon was ran off the road by the Lame One’s men, who took him to their hideout.  There the vile Dr. Moloch performed an experimental surgery to remove Gordon’s sense of right and wrong.  Essentially Gordon was medical brainwashed, becoming the Lame One’s right hand field agent.  Oddly the surgery also changed his appearance so Dick would not recognize his brother.  To accentuate the transformation, two different actors portrayed Gordon, Richard Beach before the surgery and Carleton Young after.

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Dick tries to reason with Gordon

In most of the serial chapters, Gordon led the Lame One’s men in their never-ending plots and it was not until the final chapter that Dick learned who his brother was.  The two battled with Dick trying to reason with his brother but to seeming no avail.  Finally Gordon and the Lame One escaped in a vehicle and during a high-speed chase.  When Gordon saw Gwen and Junior on the road in his path, he finally broke his conditioning and yanked the vehicle off the road.  The crash would kill both him and the Lame One but not before he was able to talk to his brother one last time.

Serials, other films and books are non-canon of course, but much like Cueball from last year, it is fun to see the current team tie our comic strip hero back to some of these old adventures.