Wednesday, November 26, 2014


The TRACY saga continues on and with a potent splat, what with the culmination of the Flattop Jr. episode as well as the "Spec" storyline (she's the tyke who was framed for murdering her stepdad), the Kitten Sisters and the Clipso Brothers, a pair of conniving twins who look remarkably like Jackie Gleason. Pretty heavy stuff here esp. with the Flattop saga where the cad meets up with a cute boho gal called Skinny who enters ones of his paintings at an outdoor exhibition and wins first prize which, not so surprisingly enough inna world o' TRACY, directly leads to the gal's death by her getting heaved off the top of an apartment building by none other'n an angrier'n hell Flattop himself.

At first I was rather disheartened that Skinny met such a spattering end---after all her character was cute 'n sexy as well as sassy enough to like without anyone wanting to bash her face in---but thankfully she stays in the continuity as a ghost who clings to Flattop Jr. whether it be ethereally or metaphorically (you decide). The crashing outcome is mind-boggling even for a strip that never did mind stretching some of the comic boundaries that were to be found in the more "serious" endeavors on the funny page, and I for one believe that this particular storyline was one of the better TRACY sagas to appear in print and that's even stacked up against the ones seen during the forties which alla them comic snobs say was the bestest days for TRACY no doubt about it!

The rest ain't anything to sneeze at either, what with Spec's mom's new boyfriend "Ivy " losing his left forearm to a shark after mom pushes him off a cliff into the drink before he can do it to her, not to mention the whole Kitten Sisters saga where one of 'em gets revenge on an ex-member of the gang by dressing up like a snowman at a ski contest and shooting her through the heart with an arrow as she flies mid-air! The Clipso Brothers episode features the appearance of B.O. Plenty's long-lost father Morin and his teenaged barefoot bride (one of the Clipsos gets his right index finger shot off during a shootout giving us a good two amputations this volume!) while the Crystal saga's got the absconding with a bit pile o' loot husband frozen solid in the family walk-in freezer and some good close calls when the brat gal sneaks in to get some ice cream on a stick! Yes, there's no shortage of thrills this time around, and if you're somewhat bored, nonplussed or shocked at all of the action and adventure to be found may I call you Fredric Wertham?

One caveat, I must admit that Max Allen Collins' forwards are becoming a tad baby boomer moralistic preachy, that is mainly preaching against what Collins believes are the foibles and stuck-upness of Chester Gould and his anti-delinquency ideas that were starting to pop up in TRACY on scant occasion. Yeah I can see Collins being snarky about Tracy and his new crew cut (which was just as bad a move as the time Tracy was given long hair and a mustache inna early seventies!) and who could deny that Gould's pushing the (nonexistent) trend towards teens dressing up so's not to look thuggish was nothing but wishful thunk, but when its being delivered to you in a tone that could only come from a sainted member of the brave sixties generation who sacrificed so much for YOUR right to throw frisbees and felch in an non-obtrusive, peaceful world you can just BET that the b.s. meter's gonna be clicking more'n a buncha mad castanets driven by a pack of PMS-induced senoritas on the hunt for the bullfighter of their ill-tempered ire!

Of course Collins has to redeem his former mentor somewhat by saying that Gould takes a more "liberal" position in the story sidebar where Flattop's ex-pal Joe Period's mother pleads for forgiveness for ignoring her now-murderer son then throws herself into the path of a truck when he shoos her away...gee, I didn't know that the concept of bad parents making bad kiddies was exactly in the realm of the enlightened ones (after all, Taki himself got into hot wa-wa for saying that the thugs of England was descendants of other thugs who raised 'em that way and last time I heard Taki wasn't exactly Senator Heartbleed!) but hey, I learn somethin' new every day. Only wish the new thing I learned today was something about an obscure hard early-seventies post-Velvets monolith of a band, but maybe that'll be tomorrow.

Whatever you do, skip the sob saga (or take it as what it is...uberlib feelygood masturbation) and get to the meat 'n potatoes. But no matter what you like me'll be glad you're working your way through TRACY a whole lot more'n FOR BETTER OR WORSE, that's for sure!

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