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.

Mysta Revealed At Last!

MystaReadyAfter many months of speculation, hints and the new Moon Maid’s origin and identify have finally been revealed in Sunday’s strip. Theories included cloning, regeneration, replicant, robots, next-of-kin and all options in between have been made with the accurate deduction taking place on the Dick Tracy Yahoo Group about a week ago. As the details are coming out of Diet’s mouth as we type, we don’t want to reveal the secret without warning, so head on over to your favorite online source and find out who she is!  Once you’ve done that, keep reading!

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Breaking the Fourth Wall

In today’s Sunday strip, Vitamin Flintheart broke the fourth wall, talking directly to Dick Tracy readers to introduce the third act of the summer’s Moon Maid saga.  Channelling the opening monologue of Frankenstein (1931)¹, Vitamin foretells many changes for his friends in the coming story warns us to prepare our hearts for some form of calamity.  With the current arc’s focus on Sparkle, Junior, Honeymoon and Moon Maid we are worried.  Death of a loved one is rare but has happened before.

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Mordred and the Man in the Moon

This last weekend was quite interesting for Dick Tracy comic strip readers.  Most of us have been busy digesting the day by day twists and turns of the summer’s Moon Maid saga.  Over the weekend we were interested in the last major player in the current story line, Mr. Méliès, a moon-faced individual in classic Gould fashion.

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Méliès is of course is an homage to George Méliès, a French illusionist and filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of the cinema.  Sometimes called the first “Cinemagician”, He developed many special effect tricks and was one of the first to use multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves and hand-painted color in his work. Two of his most well-known films are A Trip to the Moon (1902) and The Impossible Voyage (1904).  Staton and Curtis reference A Trip to the Moon in the Sunday strip and with the Méliès character.  Those who have seen the recent movie, Hugo might be familiar with Méliès, who was portrayed by Ben Kingsley.  We wonder if the comic Méliès will be taking a bullet to the eye.

MordredOn Monday and Tuesday we’ve seen Junior and Honeymoon visiting a collapsed granary to take pictures for a new Dick Tracy book.  Dick and the serial killer Mordred took shelter  in the granary during storms and flooding in the Dr. Mordred story, the last to be written by Dick Locher.  While Mordred ended up killed by rats at the end of the story, it was a soft death and the door is open for the return of another villain…or it might simply be a place for Junior to find his missing wife Sparkle.  We’ll find out soon!

 

Annie Crossover

AnnieCrossoverHopefully fans of the Annie comic strip are reading because Oliver Warbucks, The Asp and Punjab are making a crossover appearance this weekend in the Dick Tracy comic strip!  Tracy has been investigating Moon Maid sightings and Oliver Warbucks Lazarus Project might be a clue.  Even more exciting, we get to see what might be happening in the world of the cancelled Annie with Warbucks, Asp and Punjab preparing for to search out lost Annie.  Warbucks even asked for Tracy’s assistance should their expedition fail!

If you’re feeling a little in the dark on the whole Annie angle, the Little Orphan Annie strip made it’s debut August 5, 1924, rougly seven years before Dick Tracy.  Annie was written by Harold Gray until this death in 1968 and was the inspiration of the play and movie by the same name.  In the strip, the mop headed little orphan girl is adopted by Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks and goes on many exciting adventures with her dog Sandy.  Additional foreign characters joined the strip, including The Asp, Punjab and Mr. Am.

After Gray’s death in 1968 the strip was taken over by artists and writers hired by the Tribune Media Services, the same owners of the Dick Tracy brand.  Some artist/writer teams fared better than others but sadly the Annie strip slowly declined popularity and was finally cancelled on June 13, 2010.  At the time our little Annie was kidnapped in Guatemala, leaving us with a cliffhanger ending that may never be finished.  With a new Annie movie possible in the next couple years, perhaps the Tribune will restart the comic strip, hopefully with a pair of writers as skilled as Dick Tracy’s Mike and Joe!

For an excellent in-depth read on the Little Orphan Annie, check out the Comic Journal’s “The Orphan Epic” article.