Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Dick Tracy and Mary Perkins

Mike Curtis and Joe Staton have taken a moribund vintage comic strip -- Dick Tracy -- and turned it into a fresh new strip full of surprises and delights. For me, many of those delights come from recognizing crossovers and cameos with other comic strips (both current and historical).

In a sequence started in March, 2014, Vitamin Flintheart takes center stage once again. This former matinee idol (and unabashed ham actor) first strutted into Dick Tracy in 1944 as an unwitting dupe of Flattop, Sr. Although a movie and TV actor, Flintheart's heart belongs to the theater. (click on images to enlarge). In this sequence, he performs the lead in a play by the Immortal Bard.

His co-star has also had some interaction with Flintheart in his offstage drama with con artist Silver Nitrate and his sister Sprocket. Newer readers might assume she's a minor character -- but she's really much more. Mary Perkins was the star of her own soap opera/adventure strip, "On Stage." The strip ran under a variety of titles (depending on the newspaper); "Mary Perkins," "Mary Perkins, On Stage," and "On Stage," from 1957 through 1979. Brilliantly written and illustrated by Leonard Starr, the strip won several professional awards for it's innovative storytelling.

Of course such a major star of stage and screen like Mary Perkins would eventually work with the equally famous Vitamin Flintheart! Curtis and Staton's subtle nod to a comic strip legend did not go unnoticed (at least by this reader).

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