Thursday, June 11, 2020

A LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK REVIEW - DICK TRACY by Carl Memling, pictures by Hawley Pratt and Al White (Golden Press, 1962)

Sheesh, I really must be craving for the next volume of THE COMPLETE DICK TRACY if I'm "reduced" to reading this Little Golden Book (which I recall my mother buying for me at a local laundromat which just happened to have a rotating rack of Little Golden Books for sale). But 'eh, I'll take my Dick Tracy any way I can as long as it's of the Chester Gould strata and its something that really fits into my own suburban slob memories of being a happy turdler whose only worries hadda do with hiding from the mailman and trying to avoid the dreaded enema (ow!).

I dunno about you, but my first memories of DICK TRACY were via the UPA cartoons that were hitting the cathode with an alarming frequency back in the sixties. You probably saw some of those when the 1990 Warren Beatty feature film came out and alla the old serials/movies/TV series/cartoons were suddenly dug outta the mothballs. Maybe you can conjure up past viewings of the Filmation TRACY segments on ARCHIE'S TV FUNNIES that appeared in '71...those were somewhat closer to the reality of the strip while the UPA ones were of quite a different nature being "dumbed down" for a pretty young viewing audience. But I guess TRACY creator Chester Gould liked 'em enough since he was photographed laughing during a screening, or perhaps he was overjoyed thinking about all of the royalties and additional tie-ins that were gonna be pourin' in!

But ah, I still remember those UPA cartoons fondly and have reviewed a DVD of some episodes almost two decades back within these "pages". They were quite suited for the late-turdler and sophisticado kindergarten types and I sure liked watching 'em given their particularly humorous nature. Of course I asked my dad (back when I was still light enough to sit on his lap) to read the newspaper TRACY for me thinking it was gonna be like those cartoons I was watching almost daily. When I discovered that it wasn't exactly the rather innocent comedic romp that the TV cartoons were I asked dad to put some funny dialog in himself! Of course that didn't work out exactly to plan, but from those days on I was a big TRACY fan in the same solemn yet frivolous way that NANCY remains a fond fave reminding me of a childhood where things like comic strips definitely meant way more than mean teachers and nasty classmates.

The story in this book is in many ways similar to the UPA toons in that Tracy only appears at the beginning and end of the tale. However, the three comic cops who did the bulk of actual crimefighting on this early-sixties series---Joe Jitsu, Go Go Gomez and Hemlock Holmes (the bulldog who speaks like Cary Grant...Heap O'Calorie is missing for some strange reason)---don't intermingle with any of the classic TRACY badguys who were put to long-deserved deaths and/or mutilations many years back. Nor do they get time out to call Tracy right when they're about to be hit on the head with an anvil. And most interesting of all is that in this tale all three work together to solve a mystery as to what exactly happened to a li'l girl's missing cat while getting into various mayhem, kiddie suitable that is, as they do everything but the OBVIOUS to get to the root matter of it all. Sorta like the way real life people try to alleviate everything they see wrong only to exacerbate the situation while they all congratulate themselves for their selfless efforts in combating one evil or another. Who sez these Golden Books weren't educational?
This must be where all those telemarketers got my
last name from!

And yeah, you tough guy TRACY fans may sneer and spew over the way those animated cartoons were cheaply produced with typical television-budget movement et. al. Go ahead in you want to, but I don't think it's fair to trudge down on THIS forever proud ranch house kiddie's memories of a past that was way more exciting and adventurous than anything being offered in these prissy school marm gone Margaret Sanger days. At least when I think of DICK TRACY I think not only of heroism and violence used to put down violence but a rather amusing syndicated television cartoon that I'm sure thrilled more kids in a real life-affirming way than all of the pus PBS has pushed in front of progressive households these past thirtysome years (I hope alla them kids go "Unite The Right"---'d serve their parents GOOD!). And this book brings back some happy memories of days I wish I could live over, as long as I have enough dexterity to wipe my ass and toss things into the supermarket shopping cart while nobody's lookin' that is!


Bill S. said...

What a find! I wasn't lucky enough to own one as a tyke, but I do remember seeing it around and I think a friend owned it.
Tracy-wise, I watched DICK TRACY'S DILEMMA again last week and am working my way through 1970 Tracy daily strips.


MoeLarryAndJesus said...

Stamp Out Childhood Dyslexia!

top_cat_james said...

Chris, you neglected to mention that the stuffed shirts at Simon & Schuster had Jitsu and Gomez speaking proper English instead of employing their on-screen comic accents. So solly, prease, but I theenk they're ver' fonny. Hate to think of what they'd do to Popeye.

debbie downer said...

lol he cannot even spell his own name lol

Alvin Bishop said...

Did they publish a Little Golden Book of Modesty Blaise? Cheers! Alvin Bishop

(((Simon N Ratfinkle))) said...



MoeLarryAndJesus said...

Be fair, Debbie. That was before he was separated from his conjoined twin, Cletus Stigliano.

Christopher Stigliano said...

If they did Alvin, boy would some little boy sure be lucky!