Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Complete Chester Gould's Dick Tracy

(Volume One)

Chester Gould

This is a really great action/adventure strip, beginning an ambitious reprint project from IDW Publishing. With over 600 strips, this volume took a lot longer to plow through than I imagined, though I enjoyed every moment of it. All strips between 1931 and May of 1933 are incorporated into this volume, with non-continuity Sundays collected in the back in color, while the later Sundays that incorporated the ongoing plots are integrated in with the other strips in black and white so as not to distract from the story. While many elements of Dick Tracy, like his sci-fi gadgets and distinctly freakish rogues gallery, haven't reared their ugly heads (literally) by this point, some familiar elements have been introduced, like his feisty sidekick Junior.

I can really see how exciting this book would have been coming out back when gangsters were plastered all over the headlines - they're addictive little stories without having to wait on the edge of your seat for the story to continue in the next day's paper. I was surprisingly charmed by the melodrama, Dick's relationships with Tess Trueheart, Junior and the police force, and the often complex coincidences that lead to cases getting solved. I'd been intrigued by the strip since I saw a showing of Chester Gould's in the Masters of American Comics artshow, and it's surpassed any expectations I had. And really, I couldn't have asked for a better person to introduce this first volume than Road To Perdition creator Max Allan Collins, highlighting the importance of the strip not just to comics, but to pop culture in general. A

No comments: