Thursday, August 08, 2019


You can tell by not only the very art but the overall feel that TRACY is now firmly ensconced in the same early seventies that also gave us James Taylor and streaking (well, that was 1974...). The colored  and striped shirts Tracy's now wearing is one tipoff (this being during the famed multi-pastelled and non-buttoned down craze of the day when even the Salvation Army hadda reject white shirts because nobody wanted 'em!). The span of time when Tracy looks kinda disheveled in the hair department and sports a mustache is also a clue, though he blames it on appearing as a con man in a police training film. Although I suspect that Chester Gould was trying, in his own Middle Amerigan Front Porch way, to get the strip at least a little uppa-date Tracy does look more like a discount abortionist than a cop. The 'stash eventually comes off and Tracy is groomed back to his original self within a month or two, but before the volume is over the lip spinach is back in place which only serves to get us ready for Tracy with stylish seventies long hair creeping way down the ears just like those aging actors of the day (Stan Freberg, Donald O'Connor...) tryin' to look a whole lot younger with sideburns, afros and pageboys straight outta the Blues Magoos! I guess those were hard times for a law and order kinda guy like Tracy to not look too L-7 what with all the ridiculous changes in style that were goin' on alla time.

At least Chester Gould felt it fine to continue stickin' it to the hippies (a group that was constantly being praised in the papers and television despite their penchant to wreck everything that they laid their hands on) and the more assaults on those world wreckers the better I say! Gould also got in one of the better post-fifties grotesque villains in the form of Pouch into the strip and the stories where he finds himself in cahoots with not only a reformed (?) Mole out of prison after nineteen years but Mole's niece with an equally big honker Molene (who gets to show off her bod in an eventually censored shower and un-censored bathtub scenes!) are right outta the classic Gould playbook of the past. It only proves that thankfully there were things that didn't go outta style in TRACY no matter how much of the climatic zeitgeist was goin' on out there in student demonstration land which was far far away from where I reside..

Other interesting asides and subplots (and if you're concerned about CONTINUITY forget it!)
include what seems like a budding romance between hip cop Groovy Grove and Lizz (they go out for a date and a narc who's carrying bags of marijuana falls on their car after someone tampered with his parachute!) as well as this case where a janitor at Diet Smith Industries gets tied in with a bunch of thieves posing as what else but hippies, gets killed by Tracy who then has to deal with the deceased janitor's son Homer "Peanutbutter" Barley who seems to have learned everything he knows about civics and political discourse from watching ROOM 222. Don't worry, he ends up helping Tracy even though the guy did kill his thievin' pop.

Weirdly enough some of the storylines seem to pop and fizzle out within weeks, a strangity considerin' how many of the old TRACY tales of criminal atrocities could roar on for months on end. The one with the identical triplets involved in a bank haul and murder really didn't amount to much, while the time when Gravel Gertie went bald on the crown revealing a tattoo'd treasure map gets off on a tangent of its own when the chosen baddie for this tale, a man called "Uncle" with flowers plastered all across his own dome (boy could Gould predict 'em just like he did with Chin Chiller a few years earlier!) pretty much disappears without a trace halfway into the story! Like I said, continuity wasn't much of a concern for Gould though at least he did clue us in on Flattop Jr.'s ghasty fate about four or so months after totally forgetting about it, undoubtedly pressured into doing so after receiving reams of complaints from irate readers!

But hey I will NOT complain. The art is getting even more bizarre and distorted than before while those of you who hated the outer space angle will be glad to know that it has been played down along with the whole magnetism angle which sure seemed crackpot to me! I was still perusing the comics page with a vengeance when these TRACIES originally appeared, and in many ways reading these early-seventies efforts was quite a trip back into a time that maybe I wouldn't mind re-living, but only on MY terms!

No comments: