For the comic strip collectors among you, Volume 15 of Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy series has been released in all it’s hardcover glory. The cover features 3D Magee one of several sociopathic villains introduced during this collections time period, April 19, 1953 to Oct 24, 1954. Like the previous volumes, former Dick Tracy writer Max Allan Collins writes a detailed introduction filled with images of old advertisements for the Dick Tracy comic strip.
In the last volume we were introduced to Odds Zonn, the new Mr. Crime and his daughter Susie who he abandons near the Plenty farm, a cliffhanger ending. B.O. Plenty and Gravel Gertie of course take little Susie in, calling her Little Wingy and are concerned to find she glows in the dark. Little Wingy is suffering radioactive poisoning and Diet Smith asks Dr. Von Nucleus to cure her. Her criminal father’s fate comes to a more tragic end with a bullet to the head and Susie is adopted by the Plenty’s, becoming a sister to young Sparkle Plenty.
Sparkle, a recent addition to the strip has been a marketing hit for Gould, with a very popular Sparkle Plenty doll in stores. Chester may have hoped to repeat this performance with Little Wingy, pairing the two little girls together and putting them in peril when 3D Magee and Pony use their lives (and some lethal ants) to blackmail rich Uncle “Canhead” Plenty. 3D and Pony are clearly sociopaths, willing to kill to achieve their goals and the chase to arrest them lasts for the remainder of 1953. Uncle “Canhead” seems to have filled the role of Vitamin Flintheart in the strip during this time period and a new character Chick Smithly seems like an beta test of a Lizz Worthington like female crime fighter.
Hopefully 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.
Long time Dick Tracy police collaborator and Sunday crimestopper writer Jim Doherty was kind enough to allow to provide us with two of his Dick Tracy articles which have been attached in the new Books, Collections and Articles section of the Depot. The first gives a history of Dick Tracy and Chester Gould and the second is a great piece on Dick Tracy in Prose. Jim has a deep knowledge of the world of Dick Tracy and the history of American law enforcement and his work is definitely worth the read. Also, take a look at the Novels, Collections and Big Little Book pages, they might just trigger a desire to start a collection like us.
Ever since Mike and Joe took over Dick Tracy, we’ve seen a flood of comic strip “cross-overs.” Ok, cross-over is a strong word, we’ve seen a ton of homage’s and call outs between the friendly comic strip writers and artists. Sunday’s strip of Marty and Spud is the latest example of this, with Matt Hansel’s strip starting an homage to Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy.
Moon Maid ZAPPED Sparkle!! Check out the May 28th strip to see MM (real Moon Maid, clone, someone else brain washed?) zap Sparkle Plenty in a bit of a cat fight over Honeymoon and Junior Tracy. Ok, really it was a sucker punch, Sparkle didn’t even see it coming and neither did we!
It was a fun day and after boarder Dick Tracy yahoo group Willy Carlson coined the assault on Junior’s wife a “Sparkle Zap”, Mike Curtis (DT writer) challenged a digital artist to produce a cereal by the same name. Willy took on the challenge and gave us quite the cover! A whole lot of fun and we have to admit interest in that Mysta doll as well! Check out the yahoo boards on DT for a full sized version.