Thursday, June 14, 2018

BOOK REVIEW! THE COMPLETE DICK TRACY VOLUME 24: 1967-69 by Chester Gould (IDW, 2018)

Well here we are heading into the late-sixties and DICK TRACY is getting dropped from newspapers left 'n right because hey, there's all that violence and crime goin' on and SOMETHING'S gotta be responsible for it all, y'know? Well, now we know how well all that turned out what with the entire world singing in perfect harmony with the guy from Ghana smack dab right next to the gal from Sweden and blood and guts a mere memory of a dark and troubled past. Good intentions mislaid and misued once again---sheesh, if it wasn't DICK TRACY then it must be those BUGS BUNNY cartoons that was causing all that ruckus out there---but then again THE SHARON HERALD dropped TRACY around this time but kept the rabbit so maybe it wasn't ol' Bugs' fault inna first place, eh?

After all these years I finally can read those comics that were oh-so-forbidden at least locally (hadda keep up with TRACY via the Sunday YOUNGSTOWN VINDICATOR meaning I missed out on a whole lot but like eh, my mind could make up for a good portion of it) and man/boy they sure are boff! I mean hey, loads of critics have been tellin' us that TRACY had had it by this time but I still see the same seamy plots and bad guys and bloody justice that I've seen in the strip for ages already, what with the continuation of the Chin Chillar saga which gets more bizarro as it moves on as well as the grotesque villains like Piggy who were as good as at least those fifties-era criminals nobody seems to remember either. And of course the callous violence which got more'n a few Concerned Mothers up in arms. My favorite act of maybe not-so-senseless carnage in this volume is when Tracy evaporates (with a laser gun) an entire ship crew of gangsters out to destroy his space coupe, and later on asked when asked where the foes were tells the hapless fellow "You're breathing 'em"!

Of course that's not as weird as the part where Mrs. Chin Chillar's brother Purdy, a moon escargot-hunting murderer with especially sharp right handed fingernails for opening the thick membranes of the delicacy, decides to escape into the especially frigid lunar air and is almost immediately frozen solid. Eventually his icicle corpse is obtained by a scientist who tries to revive him with the results being confusing beyond belief, with the now-albino figure walking and sitting down but with no heart beat or breathing patterns of any kind! It is never resolved as to how, if and what the heck actually did happen in the process, and of course Chester Gould just let everything hang right there just as he did with the part where Tracy wanted Mr. Herdins, the head of a laboratory that had created an especially powerful weapon, fired from his prestigious occupation. Oh well, I'm sure that if I look back on TRACY's history I can find a whole lotta turdbits that were left unanswered so why pick the nits anyhow?

Big surprise (at least for me) is the onslaught of political and social editorializing on Gould's part, complete with comments about the new laws that limited police procedures as well as panels that look exactly like some old political cartoon you used to see back when people with a sense of history and talent drew 'em. Even more surprising is the newfound sexiness that appears with a seemingly strange regularity...nothing that is explicit mind you, but if you (like me) thought that gals in bikinis with body paint was weird boy will these strips stir up a lotta old memories. One memory that hit me right between the eyes (or something else) appears in the Sunday August 4th 1968 panel featuring a nekkid broad pouring a bottle of perfume while being held up by a hand labeled "The Underworld". Relatively tame stuff true, but imagine being a little kid exposed to something like THAT! Heck, ya never saw Nancy strip down that much even in those comics where she's taking a bath!

If you woulda thought (like I mighta at one time) that TRACY was waning by this point in comic strip time, be prepared to be deservedly shaken up once again. And oddly enough, things seem to be getting even better (translation: I already got my order for vol. 25 in because like, this is not the time to procrastinate!).

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