Comic Review: Complete Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy Volume 28 (IDW Publishing)

As we rejoin IDW’s series of the Complete Dick Tracy at Volume 28, it’s 1974, reprinting strips running to 1976. As the well-researched articles inside describe, Dick Tracy’s creator and […]

As we rejoin IDW’s series of the Complete Dick Tracy at Volume 28, it’s 1974, reprinting strips running to 1976.

As the well-researched articles inside describe, Dick Tracy’s creator and artist, Chester Gould is now in his 70’s. He has lost a few working partners and not replaced them, leaving him with fewer resources: in particular, his law enforcement reference person is gone. As a result, the Dick Tracy strips now take bigger liberties in police procedure, while continuing to hammer home the ‘law and order’ message so crucial to Gould.

Gould, a right-wing conservative fellow, is more isolated now, losing his touch, and becoming less ‘relevant’ in his daily and weekly comic strip writing. He pokes fun at Women’s Lib, is tone-deaf to society change, doesn’t ‘understand’ the younger generations. However, his drawings and lettering remain strong, despite all else.

In addition, his comic strip distribution syndicate is losing money on the strip, or at least, not making as much as previous. They continue to pressure Gould to hand over his merchandising royalties, to rewrite the contract. Gould resists, digs in, and in fact licenses Dick Tracy to an increasing number of advertisers.

The strips themselves are crudely drawn by today’s standards but still maintain the science fiction (wristwatch TVs, flying police vehicles, various groundbreaking surveillance devices) and gruesome crime flavours. The criminals are weird and creepy, usually disfigured or partly insane. If you think Batman’s bad guys are strange, get a load of Tappy Welz, the Brain, Pucker Puss, and LeMaude, a female mortician with a pirate eye-patch!

This is the second last in the IDW series, only one more volume to follow. Volume 28, this one, runs almost 300 pages and includes the black and white reproductions of the strips, plus an introduction by writer Max Allan Collins, photos of Gould and his staff, and an afterword by Jeffrey Kersten. It is edited and designed by Dean Mullaney, with Bruce Canwell as Associate Editor.

IDW, The Complete Dick Tracy Vol 28, $44.99 for 294 pages.

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!