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.
For 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.
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.