IDW Publishing Celebrates 75 Years of Dick Tracy with the
Release of The Complete Chester Gould's Dick Tracy, Vol. 1
Get out your two-way wrist radios and tell all of your friends-Dick Tracy, the square-jawed detective in the yellow fedora, turns 75 this October! Joining Tess Truehart, Junior, Chief Brandon, and the most unique rogues' gallery in comic-strip history in the celebration is IDW Publishing.
Beginning this October, IDW will present deluxe hardcover collections of Chester Gould's timeless comic strip, Dick Tracy. The first volume of this multi-year project is packed with nearly 500 comic strips that encompass the series' beginning, from October 1931 to May 1933. Also included in this hardcover with dust jacket collection-designed by award-winning designer/artist Ashley Wood-are the five sample strips that Gould used to sell his groundbreaking strip, as well as a never-before-published interview between Max Allen Collins and creator Chester Gould. Former Tracy strip writer Collins, who serves on the project's Consulting Editor, also provides an overview and introduction for this first of many special volumes of The Complete Chester Gould's Dick Tracy.
IDW managed to pull Collins out of a line-up that included the likes of Flattop Jones, The Brow, and Pruneface, in order to grill him on the subject of the timeless detective, Dick Tracy.
IDW: For readers who might not be familiar all of your work, could you please explain your association with Chester Gould and Dick Tracy?
MAX ALLEN COLLINS: DICK TRACY was my favorite comic strip-actually comic book, because I was seeing the old Harvey Comics reprints-from age 7. I was a fanatic about TRACY and exchanged letters with Chester Gould-I still have framed on my office wall a drawing of TRACY he did for my 8th birthday. I got back in touch with him in the early '70s, when I began publishing mystery novels, and I eventually was invited to his Tribune Tower office and, later, to his home. Fellow TRACY fanatic Matt Masterson and I would go to visit Chet and his wife Edna once a year or so.
Then when Chet was about to retire, I was approached by editor Don Michel at the Tribune Syndicate. Seemed they had decided to approach a mystery writer, as opposed to someone in comics, and they kept hearing my name-I had published a couple of novels in which a comics fan figured prominently, and the books were full of comics references.
It was a talent hunt and I was one of a number of writers who were approached. But I did my sample story literally overnight, sent it off special delivery (this was before Fed Ex) and the editors shut the talent search down and hired me. I was, I think, 23 or 24.
IDW: What was it like slipping under the yellow fedora to write the Dick Tracy comic strip from 1977 to 1993?
COLLINS: It was a job I'd trained for, unwittingly, all my life-as a comics fan and specifically a TRACY fan. I tried to take the strip back to its roots, getting rid of the science-fiction elements that Chet had brought, and getting Tracy back to tough business, bringing in classic villains and making up new ones in the Gould style. I had the time of my life.
IDW: What is it that makes the character Dick Tracy such a timeless hero?
COLLINS: Chet patterned Tracy on two models-Sherlock Holmes, replacing the cap and cape with a modern fedora and trench coat (creating the iconic look of all tough American detectives), and Eliot Ness, who was not yet famous but whose exploits against Capone had caught Chet's eye, as a modern detective who could not be bought off.
IDW: One of the appeals of the Dick Tracy comic strip is its rogues' gallery of unique villains. Who are the few that stand out as favorites for you, and who was your favorite to write?
COLLINS: Flattop is everybody's favorite, I suppose. But my two favorites-can't narrow it down-are the Brow, that wonderful Nazi spy, and his best female villain, Crewey Lou. Of my villains I like Snake Eyes the best, ironically the last villain I created for the strip.
IDW: Last question-where are the two-way wrist radios that Dick Tracy used? How come they never caught on in the real world?
COLLINS: Just another one of those too far-out sci-fi notions of Chet's. He just missed the boat entirely on that one, didn't he?
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