Thursday, July 23, 2020


We're headin' down the home stretch with this next-to-last Chester Gould-era TRACY volume, an' boy do I like it. I like it even with the larger daily panels which lack that four panel beat to it (and besides, now it take a whole week to read a plot that coulda been handed in two days). I like it even when each of the Christmastime strips feature a hospital crisis that ends all sweetness and light right when the Big Day is just upon us and (best of all) I think these mid-seventies TRACYs are great even if Chester Gould decided to "update" Tracy's looks once again makin' his the comic strip's answer to Clint Eastwood and DIRTY HARRY what with that tousled hair of his!

But even with the new TRACY look and Gould's continuance re. the "Law and Order" drumbeat that's been goin' on ever since the very early seventies these stories are still driving enough to keep a jaded ol' fanabla like myself's attention goin'. Well, the TRACY of the seventies can't hold a high beam blinding flashlight to the forties strip, but it sure is good seein' the classic hands tackle this strip especially when even a teenbo like myself knew that the jig wasn't gonna last forever.

The cover star this volume's Brain, not that bespectacled guy you saw on THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO but this sleek gangster type who wears a fedora topped with what looks like yer average cranial matter. Funny thing is, when his hat flies off hie actual scalp looks like a brain as well meaning the guy really is curly headed! Along the way Tracy comes up against some pretty weirdo criminals from Earl Welz (the father of an obscene phone caller...Gould really was keeping up with the times!), Le Maude (a one-eyed funeral home operator who is involved with the follicle inundated Hairy in a drug ring), Bulky (involved in an extortion racket involving Sparkle Plenty's cartoonist hubby Vera Allred which results in Sparkle's eventual abandonment of Allred and her eventual suicide attempt...hey, this storyline ain't so bad at all!) and eventually this female bank robbery/murder gang led by the mid-aged Lispy and her toothless pal Pucker Puss who prove the old adage that wimmen are the "dangerous" sex. As another puss, Snagglepuss that is, would say, "Ain't it the truth!"

Throw in a killer tornado which leaves a character's corpse lodged in a tree as well as an exploding hilltop which is set off by the crippled daughter of a farmer turned mobster (killing both and trapping both Tracy and Sam Ketchem under rock leaving 'em sitting ducks for a helicopter sniper) and you know this ain't exactly gonna be THE KEWPIES.

The mid-seventies "miasma" seems to have settled into TRACY making it was more uppa-date than I'm sure many wags woulda thought. Sure the pressures of then-modern cartooning seemed to have taken somewhat of a toll, but at least the old TRACY spirit remains what with Out Hero slugging out a criminal who spit on him (with said criminal then muttering somethin' about "The Supreme Court") and enough violence and belittling of soft on crime courts and their lackeys. When was the last time you saw anything nearly as caustic and as proudly non-progressive as this in any newspaper as of late anyhow? Opinions like the kind espoused in DICK TRACY are JUST NOT ALLOWED TO BE EXPRESSED in any wayshapeform these sad 'n sorry times and although I might have my qualms about certain aspects of policing or the death penalty that might contradict those of Gould all I gotta say is IT SURE IS REFRESHING TO READ THESE VIEWS BEING ESPOUSED INNA FUNNY PAGES especially when some ideas are permitted if they reflect the opinions of their multi-millionaire masters (have ya seen DOONESBURY recently?) while others are strictly verboten especially with the pretext of journalistic (and comic page!) objectivity having been thrown out the window ages back. 

Sure can use a whole lot more of this refreshing strip, and given how the original TRACY spirit's days were numbered you can bet I'll be cherishing the final volume all the more.


Bill S. said...

Glad to see the series is keeping on!

I'm in 1970 now (a few years behind you) and Gould is still in great form. He was able to get away with a lot that would not have been tolerated from some younger comics writer with a new strip--his veteran status allowed him to do what he wanted, although he did pay for that when some papers dropped him in the early 70's (my local paper, for instance).

Glad you are still banging the drum for Chester Gould. He's needed now more than ever....


debbie downer said...

lol "book" lol doonesbury is cool but i never heard of dick tracy lol is captain bee fart one of his men? lol

Bill Zabriskie said...

Brain seems pretty gay, and I don't mean lighthearted or care free.