I have some sad news to pass on today, I’m afraid. Long time Dick Tracy artist, writer and comic strip shepherd Dick Locher passed away due to complications from Parkinson’s disease at the age of 88. Starting as an inker for Chester Gould in 1957, Mr. Locher was a talented editorial cartoonist for the Tribune who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for his work on Ronald Reagan. That same year he came back to draw Dick Tracy after the death of artist Rick Fletcher. Dick Locher’s dedicated work on Tracy expanded to include story writing and he kept the strip in crime fighting shape for nearly three decades before his retirement in 2011.
His obituary can be read here on the Chicago Tribune.
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.
The Depot is extremely excited and congratulates Joe Staton, Mike Curtis and their fantastic team for winning a third straight “Best Syndicated Strip or Panel” Harvey Award! The win was announced at the Baltimore Comic-Con‘s award ceremony where Mike and Joe were on hand to receive the award. Taking home the comic strip honors over the likes of Dilbert, Foxtrot, Get Fuzzy and Mutts is an amazing achievement.
Here’s a full list of the 2015 Harvey Winners:
- Best Letterer: Jack Morelli for Afterlife with Archie, Archie Comic Publications
- Best Colorist: Dave Steward, HELLBOY IN HELL, Dark Horse Comics
- Best Syndicated Strip: Joe Staton and Mike Curtis for Dick Tracy, Tribune Media Services
- Best Online Comics Work: The Private Eye by Brian K Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente
- Best American Edition of Foreign Material: Blacksad: Amarillo, Dark Horse
- Best Inker: Danny Miki, Batman, DC Comics
- Best New Series: Southern Bastards, Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, Image Comics
- Best New Talent: Chad Lambert for “Kill Me” from Dark Horse Presents, Dark Horse Comics
- Special Award for Humor in Comics: Chip Zdarksy for Sex Criminals, Image Comics
- Best Original Graphic Publication for Younger Readers: Lumberjanes, BOOM! Box
- Best Graphic Album Previously Published: Mouse Guard: Baldwin the Brave and Other Tales, Boom! Studios/Archaia
- Special Award for Excellence in Presentation: Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, Andrew Carl, Josh O’Neill, Chris Stevens, Locus Moon Press
- Dick Giordano Humanitarian Award: Prsented by Nelli Kurtzman, this award presented to Denis Kitchen.
- Best Anthology: Dark Horse Presents, Dark Horse Comics
- Best Domestic Reprint Project: Steranko Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD Artist’s Edition, IDW
- Best Cover Artist: Fiona Staples, SAGA, Image Comics
- Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History, Andrew Farago, Insight Editions
- Best Graphic Album, Original: Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow, Archaia/Boom! Studios
- Best Continuing or Limited Series: SAGA, Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Image Comics
- Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hero Initiative: This award was given Russ Heath who is most well known for his DC Comics War Stories and Playboy’s Little Annie Fanny.
- Best Writer: Mark Waid, Daredevil, Marvel Comics
- Best Artist: Fiona Staples, SAGA, Image Comics
- Best Cartoonist: Terry Moore, Rachel Rising, Abstract Studios
- Best Single Issue or Story: “Breaking Out”, DARK HORSE PRESENTS #35, Dark Horse Comics
In addition to the above award winners, the second and third Harvey Kurtzman Hall of Fame Awards were presented to Jules Feiffer and Will Eisner, early American cartoonists. Will and Jules created The Spirit (1940-1952) which was noted for its experiments with content and form that proved to be a springboard for later comics.
With the Dick Tracy/Annie crossover kicking into high gear we thought it might be nice to do a quick Annie Roll Call to familiarize Dick Tracy readers with the Annie characters. The Depot admits most of our familiarity with Annie comes from the movies so we’ll be learning here as well. Feel free to chime in with any information you care to add!
We all should know this one, the curly red-haired Annie was an 11-year-old orphan known for wearing a red dress and having vacant circles for eyes. Her February 29th birthday is attributed to her perpetual youthfulness. A plucky and compassionate girl, Annie has a strong sense of right and wrong and had no fear of larger bullies. When the Annie comic strip was cancelled in June of 2010 Annie had been kidnapped from her hotel by a wanted European war criminal known as the “Butcher of the Balkans”. When the strip ended the two had gone to Guatemala and the Butcher told the heroine she had a new life with him now. GoComics (see previous link) has the end of Annie’s run on their website so if you have time you could reade about it there. Annie’s most famous catchphrases, “Gee Whiskers” and “Leapin’ Lizards!” will hopefully be uttered sometime this summer!
Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks
Oliver Warbucks started as a small machine shop owner who acquired enormous wealth producing munitions during World War I. A well-built bald man, Warbucks is typically depicted wearing a tuxedo and diamond stick pin in his shirt as he has grown very rich over the years. He is somewhat similar to Diet Smith in this regard. Oliver liked Annie from the first time they met, asking her to call him “Daddy” and taking the girl under his wing despite the protests of his wife. Warbucks has been searching for Annie since she was taken by the Butcher and has begun to worry he may never find her.
The Asp and Punjab
These two are Warbuck’s right-hand men. They have been referred to as bodyguards, but they have many more skills than simple bodyguards. Punjab is an eight-foot native of India, depicted with the classic Indian headpiece while the Asp is a suit-wearing man, possibly of East Asian heritage. We admit we know very little about these two but both were introduced in the mid-1930’s and remained part of the strip ever since.
Mister Am is a very mysterious character in the Annie comic strip, drawn with a long beard and written with a jovial personality. He seems to have lived for thousands of years (since before cities) and has shown strange supernatural powers. Still, he is not all-powerful or knowledgable but is far more capable than any other living being. Am’s motives and who he chooses to help and how have been subject to much speculation, as has his true identity, which some have suggested may in fact be God, Santa Claus or Methuselah. Read more about Mr. Am here.
Sandy was a puppy Annie rescued from a gang of abusive boys and has grown and remained with Annie ever since 1925. Like Annie herself, we’ve not seen Sandy in the Dick Tracy strip and it’s unclear if Sandy is currently with Annie or in fact safe and sound with Oliver Warbucks.