One of my favorite things about Dick Tracy research is shining a light on lesser known film, radio and stories. Today I want to shine that spotlight on the Big Little Book, Dick Tracy Encounters Facey. Big Little Books began in 1932 and were published through 1950. After a seventeen year break, Whitman Publishing attempted to revive the series and produced 35 more books between 1967 and 1969. The first book of this new “2000” series was Dick Tracy Encounters Facey, the only Tracy story in the 35 book collection.
Like the BLB’s of earlier decades, the Facey book is small in size so that it can be easily handled by young readers. Selling for 39 cents, it was printed in three runs, each currently valued in the $4/$8/$16 range for Fair/Near Mint/Mint condition. This book is by far the most common Dick Tracy BLB to be found by collectors. Inside is a brand new ten chapter adventure, written by Paul S. Newman and copyrighted by the Chicago Tribune. Accompanying each page of the youth novel is a color Dick Tracy panel. The story itself is accurate to Gould’s 60’s era Tracy cast and has well done and accurate illustrations.
I have a confession that will surprise no one. I am a huge Ralph Byrd fan. Oh I wasn’t originally, but in my endeavors to learn everything there is to learn about Dick Tracy I quickly came upon the Dick Tracy Serials, Movies and Television all starring Ralph Byrd. I watched and collected everything I could find, I edited video, cleaned footage (to the best of my untrained eye) and documented each chapter of the adventure. I saw a lot of Ralph Byrd, and when I think of Tracy on film, I see Mr. Byrd in my mind’s eye.
So I’m excited to see a character honoring both Ralph Byrd and fellow Tracy portraying actor, Morgan Conway in today’s strip. I’ve seen Conway in his two movies as well, and there is nothing wrong with his performance. Chester Gould himself preferred Conway to Byrd, but Ralph is still Dick Tracy in my heart. I’ve been sitting on this biography for a while now, and I feel today is a good day to let it out.
Tracy and comic fans near Conway, Arkansas, this weekend, November 13th through the 15th, is ComiCon-way and will be your last chance to catch both Joe Staton and Mike Curtis together in 2015. You can expect at least one if not both to be in Dick Tracy garb and handing out their Dick Tracy Meets the Film Pirates comic featuring the first Silver and Sprocket Nitrate story! The Depot has gotten our greedy hands on one and it’s awesome!
The ComiCon-way is free admission so there’s no excuse, if your neighborhood you should stop by and tell the boys hello!
Update: Inker and Letterer extraordinaire Shelley Pleger will be at the Eugene Comic Con in Oregon with her husband Terry and they will have additional copies of Dick Tracy Meets the Film Pirates. Thanks for letting us know Terry, Oregon you’re up!
The Sam that was this Sam sure ain’t
Speaks as a thug without restraint.
Should have stuck to a toothpick
For 88 the end comes quick.
Mirror, mirror on the wall
This world is strangest of them all.
Up is down and wrong is right
Villain Sam is an odd sight.
The Sam that was this Sam is not
I fear that Keyes shall soon be shot.
Tracy poet Pequod’s poem helps us kick off Dick Tracy’s next story, titled “Midnight Mirror” by writer Mike Curtis. The story title, also the name a local newspaper is key and this evil looking Sam Catchem accosting a man named Keyes has certainly opened some reader eyes. Has good and evil been flipped, are we in a dream sequence, can this all be explained with twin brothers? The theories are flying and we can’t wait to find out!