Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Comical Dick Tracy

Things have become more interesting in Dick Tracy recently, with several story lines woven together -- and all having to do with vintage comic strips. The first is a reinterpretation of an older gag.  (click on images to enlarge).  Creators Mike Curtis and Joe Staton set the stage with this Sunday spread:

The following Sunday reveals more, and lets us get a glimpse of the "Straightedge Trustworthy" comic strip. Bonnie's comment to her grandfather is funny, of course, in a meta sense -- since the reader knows that in fact she is in a comic strip.

But there's more. A weekly segment shows "Staightedge Trustworthy" parodying key elements of the Dick Tracy strip, including the grotesque villains with Dickensian names.

Behind it is Vera Alldid, a character Chester Gould created in 1969 as a mordant commentary on the state of newspaper comics. Note the last panel of the strip below:

Alldid calls Tracy "Fosdick," and that's significant. Because in 1942, Al Capp incorporated a parody of Dick Tracy in his own comic strip, "Lil Abner." -- it was called "Fearless Fosdick."

Although Chester Gould, the original creator of Dick Tracy was rumored to be unimpressed (at the least) with Capp's parody, it was popular with the public -- and with future writers and artists of the Dick Tracy feature.

In the current continuity, Tracy is quite unhappy with Alldid's depiction of him, and Mike Curtis may be using the two characters to stand in for Capp and Gould.

Whatever the reason, it's great fun all around -- especially for those who know some of the background of this long-running strip.

And there's something else -- note that in both Sunday sequences the logo for a discontinued comic strip appears prominently in the first panel.

It's just setting the stage for the second story line Curtis and Staton have introduced. as we'll see in Part 2.

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