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.

Dick Tracy’s Crimestoppers – The Theme Park that Never Was

DickTracyShootOutImagine if you will a theme park set in the 1930’s Chicago, with all the warehouses, streets, cars and trappings of the gang land we’ve come to expect from the era.  You race through the streets in your vehicle, using your tommy gun to battle villainous gangsters like Flattop and Itchy who are working for Big Boy Caprice.  Bullets fly an errant burst sends the lids of nearby trash cans flying through the air.  This was the vision of Disney’s Dick Tracy Theme Park, the park that never was.

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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.

George Takei in Dick Tracy

GeorgeTawaraColorThe latest Dick Tracy storyline has kicked off with a seventy year old murder mystery that stretches all the way back to a Japanese internment camp during World War II.  In this two month long story, Dick Tracy requests the help of an old associate, George Takei (George Tawara in the strip) and his husband Brad!  Takei stated on his Facebook page that he and Brad are “truly honored to be a part of it.” It’s been a busy couple months for Takei in the comics, in December 2012 he made a special appearance in issue No. 6 of Archie Comics’ “Kevin Keller.”  The fact that the strip is using an often glossed over piece of American history, Japanese Internment Camps, is very commendable and we can’t wait to read the story.

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