Identified by Dick Tracy as “the most mentally vicious criminal in the world”, Influence was a dangerous foe who first appeared at the end of 1946. With his gaunt face and deep round eyes, Influence learned he had an almost supernatural ability to hypnotize those who caught his eyes.
When first introduced, Influence was the owner of the coastal Dove Casino and travelled the country to find those who ran after accumulating gambling debts. He was accompanied by a henchman named Slim, who was under Influence’s mind control. When he located a welsher named Brine Douglas, he shot and killed him at the end of a pier and Brine’s body fell into the water.
Influence then turned his attention to Vitamin Flintheart, who owed him $20,000. Hypnotizing Vitamin to his, Influence forced him to eat cold vegetables instead of his pills and sleep on a brick for a pillow. Vitamin soon became Influence’s butler and unknowingly helped the villain steal money from the wealthy heiress, Florence Lane, whom Vitamin knew as an old friend. Influence hypnotized Florence and then he, Slim and Vitamin moved into Florence’s mansion. After Florence had withdrawn $85,000, Influence strangled her in the basement.
Following a lead at a Pal’s shirt laundry, Pat Patton came face to face with Influence. Influence hypnotized Pat, knocked him out and stuffed him inside an icebox at the city dump. Pat luckily was able to contact Dick with a two-way wrist radio and he was quickly rescued and police soon surrounded Florence Lane’s mansion. When Tracy entered the front door, Influence tripped him, rolled him in a carpet, struck him over the head and knocked him out. Then, disguised in Tracy’s hat and coat, Influence escaped in Tracy’s car, taking Slim and Vitamin with him.
Out in the country, Influence dropped Tracy’s hat and coat from a bridge over a stream and then drove to a ski resort. Influence then told Vitamin he would remember nothing and sent him back to town in the car. The hat and coat were discovered by a young girl named Misty Waters, who would return them to Tracy and give him a clue as to Influence’s location. At the ski lodge, Influence hypnotized the manager into giving him two adjoining rooms for himself and Slim. They settled in their rooms and tried to hide out from Tracy. A few weeks passed and Slim was going stir-crazy. It was great surprise to Influence when Slim won a new car in a raffle at the lodge and he quickly decided to use the car to make an escape. As they exited the lodge, Influence and Slim saw Tracy, carrying a cane, standing by the car. Influence approached Tracy and tried to hypnotize him, starring deeply into his eyes. Tracy unscrewed the cane handle and drew out a chain, which he lashed across Influence’s eyes. Influence’s glass hypnotic lenses (which were made of colored cellophane) shattered and the murderer surrendered meekly to Tracy. Influence and Slim went to prison.
While in prison Influence had a religious conversion and abandoned his criminal ways, leading to an early parole. In 1981 when Dick Tracy received a death threat towards Diet Smith from an “old friend”, Tracy looked into some of his reformed enemies, including Coffyhead, Pear-Shape, the Mole and Influence. He found Influence living in Texas, helping the Police and FBI, using hypnosis on eyewitnesses to get additional details of an event. His hair now white, Influence was on such good terms with the Tracy that he later attended Junior and Sparkle Plenty’s wedding, which was nearly blown up by Angeltop Jones.
Influence appeared again in August 2014 to aid the Major Crimes Unit and Oliver Warbucks with the interrogation of a suspect tied to the disappearances of Dick Tracy and Annie Warbucks. His hair had returned again to it’s 1947 color, black. Chief Patton was opposed to involving Influence in the investigation, because of their “history”, but Oliver Warbucks forced the issue by using his personal fortune to bring the hypnotist in.