Archive: Dick Tracy

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Dick Tracy, 5/21/18

Diet Smith has long had a cozy relationship with the Neo-Chicago police force that amounts to a local microcosm of the military-industrial complex. This has become more obvious as the decades have worn on: what used to be gee-whiz futuristic high-tech, like tiny wrist-sized communicators, are now available as commodity hardware manufactured in China, so presumably only the kickbacks Smith Industries sends to City Hall and the Police Benevolent Association keeps him in business. But even when this strip started running in the 1930s you could just buy a gas mask from any speciality store. It can’t be worth Diet’s efforts to actually manufacture the things, so I assume he’s just buying them in bulk, selling them to the cops at insane markups, and setting up some kind of branding program where the cops are contractually obligated to announce his name during police raids as a final insult.

Mary Worth, 5/21/18

For fans of Wilbur channeling Sally Field yesterday, good news: he has not yet begun to self-actualize. A little good luck and a single hour of therapy behind him and Wilbur has swung from cliffside drunk depression to manic glee, and in today’s second panel appears to be transforming into some kind of superhero whose main power is wholly unjustified self-esteem.

Mark Trail, 5/21/18


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Crankshaft, 5/20/18

I’m not a baby boomer, so I thought that maybe the incredibly banal sentence “I’m sorry to say the band has broken up” was uttered mournfully by Paul McCartney at a famous press conference or something, but turns out nope! Turns out that this is just a sad attempt to build a joke a backwards from a possibly real-life incident in which a FitBit — wait, sorry, “Never-Quit-Bit” — band broke, and the only band (in the group-of-musicians sense) that came to mind to make the joke specific was the Beatles. Which, I get it, know your newspaper-comic-reading-audience, but … couldn’t we come up with a more contemporary reference? One Direction? Didn’t One Direction just break up? (I’m not a baby boomer, but I’m also not, like, a young person, so I don’t actually know.)

Mary Worth, 5/20/18

Sorry, guys, I won’t apologize for just cackling in cruel delight whenever Wilbur overcomes some pathetic life drama and claws his way back up to the level of mediocrity he’s comfortable with and then just spasms with delight! The classic example of this is obviously “I shouldn’t be alive … but I am!”, but also let’s not forget the time that Wilbur used his Ask Wendy column to advise a lady to dump her husband, and when she did and regretted it, she sued him, but the case was thrown out on a technicality, leading Wilbur to literally vibrate with relief like a tuning fork. The penultimate panel here is great on its own, of course, but what really makes it special is the context, which is that Wilbur is talking to his editor in the panels before and after it, and there’s no indication that he’s muted the call in between.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 5/20/18

The last time Heather entered the Avery International board room, of course, it was to prop up her dementia-striken husband, hoping against hope that he could hold it together long enough to fool the board into thinking he still had control of his faculties and could therefore legitimately block a corporate merger that would’ve probably benefitted company shareholders. She committed this fraud for no reason beyond spite against Milton’s son. But bringing in a baby would obviously be beyond the pale!

Dick Tracy, 5/20/18

I sincerely hope that the narration box in panel four is meant to indicate that, here in the back room of Bank Mazuma, a mysterious robotic voice from nowhere suddenly announced “Lights out! Everybody dance!” and then the rest of this gunfight is scored to extremely aggressive techno music.

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Dick Tracy, 5/9/18

Oh, I guess I haven’t mentioned that Dick Tracy, as part of its new mission of just being a full-time old-timey comics nostalgia strip, is doing a crossover with the Green Hornet. You might remember that last year he did a crossover with the The Spirit, and while that masked extralegal crimefighter who first appeared more than 70 years ago was a friend and ally to Dick Tracy and his cop pals, the Green Hornet is treated as a criminal and enemy, and there’s probably reasons in the deep lore for that and you know what? I don’t really care what they are! Don’t bother to tell me, because if you do, I probably won’t really retain the information! Mainly what I want to draw attention to in today’s strip is Chief Patton’s dialogue in panel three, because this being Dick Tracy I’m assuming that his informant was a guy named Odd Duck who looks like a duck, with a bill for a mouth and everything.

Beetle Bailey, 5/9/18

You might think today’s Beetle Bailey is a joke about how the ladies shouldn’t have to listen to all the shocking swearing that menfolk do when they’re alone together, but no: the General and his staff were having a highly classified discussion of upcoming military action that junior officers and civilian employees like Blips and Buxley weren’t authorized to hear. The grawlices represent descriptions of the nightmarish consequences of warfare, with gruesome details of carnage far more harrowing than the casual blasphemies that have become a part of the everyday English language.