Strangers in Paradise III #50 p 17

Strangers in Paradise III #50 p 17
by Terry Moore (1954- )
11 x 17 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Terry Moore is under-appreciated. He’s a terrific artist and writer.

He began his universe-building with Strangers in Paradisevol I (3 issues, 1993-94), and followed with volume II (13 issues, 1994-96). He then moved to volume III, a complex 90-issue story that ran from 1996-2007. The series is a terrific character study against the backdrop of an international crime and spy syndicate.

After the end of SIP III, he did three seemingly separate stories: Echo(30 issues, 2008-11), Rachel Rising(42 issues, 2011-16), and Motor Girl(10 issues, 2016-17), although there was evidence that these characters all reside in the same universe as one another and SIP.

He returned to SIP, 25 years after its premiere, with Strangers in Paradise XXV(2018-), in which he not only brings us up to date with the SIP crew, but has now integrated the storylines from all four of these series.

Commission Intermission: “Approved by the Comics Code Authority”

Dr. Frederick Wertham, a German psychologist, is a well-known figure in the history of comic books. His lack of appreciation of scientific evidence to advance an idea is infamous: because 95% of kids in reform schools in the late 1940s read comic books, comic books are a prime cause of juvenile delinquency. And the eventual release of his primary materials for study, in 2010, also presents a case for him manufacturing and distorting the evidence he actually had. Wertham’s positions: The horror and war genres promoted violence, drug use was rampant in the comics, the shameful representation of women and sexual innuendo promoted promiscuity, and everyone “wink-wink” knew that Batman and Robin were gay and that Wonder Woman, filled with strength and independence, was clearly a lesbian. Wertham’s 1954 book, The Seduction of the Innocent, lays out his case.  Wertham’s credentials made him a star witness at Senator Kefauver’s 1953-54 Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency.

There are documented examples of comic book burnings and for legal ordinances being passed to ban comics that contained objectionable content.

The Comics Code Authority (CCA) was created in September 1954 to allow comic publishers to self-regulate content in lieu of government regulations. Comic pages were submitted to the CCA for scrutiny, needed edits, and finally the stamp of approval on the back of the pages (an actual stamp). Comics that were approved prominently displayed the CCA “stamp” logo on their covers once the issue was in compliance, and mom and dad could rest assured that this funny book was safe and would not land little Jimmy in juvie court.

As I posted elsewhere, the margin notes on this original art page intrigued me because the changes suggested in those notes looked like CCA intervention. In this case, there are four changes that were made (by inspecting the penciled in margin notes and the white out): (1) panel 2: a “Bang!” sound effect of the gun is replaced by an exclamation point; (2) panel 3: the body is gone, completely, although its feet reappear in panel 4; (3) panel 6: too much accentuation of the left breast; (4) panel 7: too much leg (?) showing with a skirt, perhaps.

Dick Tracy #89 p 29 (July, 1955)
by Tom Hickey (1910-1984)
13 x 20 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Dick Tracy #89 (July 1955) is a code-approved book (see the cover).

While I was researching the background of this page, I discovered a notation that the appearance of this “Girl Friday” episode in the code-approved issue #89 (July 1955) is actually a reprint of the page, and it originally ran in issue #61 (March 1953)… pre-code. From 1953, the cover of issue #61 does not bear the code stamp, of course. I immediate hopped over to eBay and bought these copies of the two issues.

And, yes, indeed: the suggested changes were not part of the original 1953 printing, but came later for the 1955 reprint.

I am not sure how many examples of pre-code/post-code publication reprints there are; it would be a nice thesis for someone studying popular culture.

panel #2: the margin note says to change the “Bang” to an exclamation point “!”


panel #3: the margin note says to get rid of the body, which makes the panel idiotic

panel #6: no margin note, but the shadow under the left breast is eliminated

panel #7: no margin note; perhaps the tucks and folds of the dress are too suggestive?

Wow. I feel so much safer while reading that second version, don’t you?

Anatomy of Another Commission (Part 4)

“Take On Me” p 1 (2019)
by Carson Grubaugh (1981- ) and Gerhard (1959- )
and written by Brian P Coppola (1957- )
11 x 17, ink on board (pre-watercolor version)
Coppola Collection

And now, finally, my 40th anniversary commemoration of Cerebus the Aardvark.

The Big Idea: Carson Grubaugh is now the drawing hand of Dave Sim. And the first meaning for the title of this story, “Take On Me” (yes, a direct reference to the song, again), is that Carson has stepped into “The World of Cerebus” and will take on a Dave Sim role. You saw that idea played out, already, in The 2018 Carson Commission (see Part 3).

The Big Plan: I write a 5-page story that gets produced in the classic Dave’n’Ger style, except with Carson doing the general layout and figures and then handing the pages off to Ger. And having been the fortunate recipient of hand-colored commissions in the past, there will be none of this in black and white only stuff. After all, the first Dave’n’Ger work on Cerebus were the color stories in Epic Illustrated (the first of which I have three pages from).

“His First Fifth” aka “Guttersnipe” (Epic Illustrated 26 p 44; Oct, 1984)
by Dave Sim (1956- ) and Gerhard (1959- )
11 x 17 in, ink and watercolor on Bristol Board
Coppola Collection

The Big Story: the beginning scene is Carson’s art class, as class is getting out. The coloring is “the real world” is done in sepia wash (think: Wizard of Oz). Carson is picking up an art prop, a white sphere, while cleaning up after class, and gets accidentally whacked on the head by a kid carrying a bag that has a copy of a Cerebus trade in it. He drops the sphere, which means…

“something fell…”

… and the scene transits to Estarcion, in color, with the sphere becoming the “Big White Glowing Strange Thing” (the BWGST that, we know, causes or eases transits). And if all that seems too unfamiliar to you, well, you are just going to have to take a leap of faith.

During the 5 pages, Carson ends up traveling through the entire Cerebus series, featuring one panel from each phonebook depicting him in an iconic scene or setting… ultimately, through, there is no place like home, and he transits back in the end.

Here is my script. Thanks to two clever artists, improvements were made in the final execution.

Page 1

Carson is at work, putting away still-life props. The last few students are filing out. The color scheme is sepia (a bit like Ger’s Grinning Cat stories), as an homage to Wizard of Oz.

Like any good patron, or maybe more like Stan Lee, I make a cameo as one of the art students in class. And given that Cerebus started in 1977, it is going to be my 1977 self (during College, when I did take some art classes). I am easy to spot.

A white sphere gets knocked off the prop table. Carson stoops over to pick it up.

At the same time a student with a portfolio and a book-bag gets the portfolio stuck on a desk and whacks Carson in the head, the white sphere is on the loose again, on a collision course with the book bag, from which the Cerebus trade paperback has spilled onto the floor.

The sphere lands on the open page, it is from the issue with the Cerebus #5, p 17 showing (the Pigt lair).

Student: “Sorry, Mr. Carson.”
Carson (dazed, holding his head): “It’s fine…something…”

The white sphere is now a Big White Glowing Strange Thing.

The trip through the BWGST is the equivalent of Dorothy’s ride in the twister, and everything comes out color on the other side. Note that the coloring on the last tier is a computer fill that Gerhard uses to think about tones before doing the actual watercoloring.

BOOK REF: Cerebus

Cerebus #5, p 17

Carson is now kneeling on the floor of the statue room with the fully intact statue (in Living Color). Carson is holding the back of his head, the glowing BWGST floats in mid-air, but does not emit light that causes shadows  – and he finishes his sentence:


Carson stands, a bit bewildered. Figure out the positioning in the room, so that there was either the lighted outline of the open archway that enters the room casting its shape on the wall or onto the floor. The last two frames on this page will show the movement of the BWSGT towards Carson; the transition to the next scene is managed by the glow. In the last panel, that arch-shaped stream of light is now occupied by the silhouette of Cerebus, sword raised, about to enter the room. Glowy panel edge.

Next: Page 2

Anatomy of Another Commission (Part 3)

In and around January 2018

As I said in Part 2, one of my favorite comic book sequences ever appears on the last couple of pages of Cerebus #200.

Added to what I said before, the sequence also shares a great deal with the iconic music video for the A-Ha hit “Take On Me,” in the depiction of comic art pages as a dynamic narrative in which the action of the world is being captured. You can go check it out on YouTube; I’ll wait.

And as I said in Part 1, Carson Grubaugh is a young artist whom Dave Sim has been working with on some of the art chores for the (as of this writing) upcoming books called “The Strange Death of Alex Raymond” and “You Don’t Know… Jack.”

Newsflash. I interrupt this story about the “Take On Me” background information to give another piece of background information:

The 2018 Carson Commission

With Carson entering into the artistic world of Dave Sim, who (with Gerhard) is certainly mainly known for the decades-long work on Cerebus, I thought it would be fun to have Carson being (quote) drawn into the world (unquote) of Dave and Ger’s creative work using the gateway between worlds that Dave established in those last few pages of Cerebus #200.

I am only taking inspiration credit, here, for kicking the conceptual snowball from the top of the hill; the visualization and details are all Carson’s. I am super-pleased to have this 2-page spread in my hands (right click or left click or dance a jig, but if you open this image in another tab or window, you can see more of it than you can here).

“Uh… GUYS… I’m Right Here…” (2018)
by Carson Grubaugh (1981-)
2 x 11″ x 17″ 2-ply Strathmore 500 Bristol boards taped together, ink over blue-line print
Coppola Collection

You see the character of Jack (I think) reading issue #200 and she gets to page 18, as we see what she is visualizing in the upper left, and then the rest of page 18. Carson works using photo references, so she did a lot of posing for cameras.

Now, as this story goes, she is reading some background on the person behind the project. You want to know more about that, you can check out Dave’s Wikipedia entry.

Moving from page 18 to page 19, Jack is now intervening and reality takes a twist. Dave has a new comment at the top of the page now that he has been covered up. Frankly, it would take too long to explain the text in that word balloon, but you get the gist of Dave now being removed from the picture as Carson replaces him.

The reality from page 19 (see Part 2) is pulled back a bit more, and we see Carson supervening on the page, the tumbling Cerebus displaced, and panel two is now a meta-panel that has Carson drawing the pages that we are looking at, talking to Dave about making a book together now that he is in his world. Keep an eye on this scene because I will be talking about it again.

Realities collide at the bottom right, with the flying carrot stub, the GUYS logo, Dave Sim (peeking through) and the cover to “You Don’t Know… Jack.” And Jack is aware and has been privy to this conversation, and exhorts “Uh… GUYS… I’m Right Here…”

Carson notes: I don’t have any of the Letratone tapes Ger used for the greys, and from Sean’s posts it sounds like they aren’t anywhere near archival, so I tried to mimic them by hand. The noise ones are easy enough, but boy! – that even pattern over Cerebus was a beast. Not perfect, but it works well enough from viewing distance. Same with Ger’s toothbrush effect for the cover of #200: too hard to re-create using the original method, so I just stippled the thing.

Next: Take On Me

Ms. Tree #13 Cover (Nov 1984)

Ms. Tree #13 Cover (Nov 1984)
by Terry Beatty (1958-), assisted by Gary Kato (1949-)
and written by Max Allan Collins (1948-)
11 x 17 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Beatty and Collins co-created the hard-boiled detective, Ms. Tree, in the early 1980s.

Max Allan Collins, a career mystery writer, says that the Ms. Tree character was inspired by Velda, Mike Hammer’s secretary (like Dick Tracy’s Girl Friday) a tough, gun-toting, six-foot tall brunette (and Mike’s lover). According to Collins, the basic premise of Ms. Tree was, “What if Velda and Mike Hammer eventually got married, and on their honeymoon he was murdered?”

The overarching story in the series is Ms. Tree’s revenge on the Muerta crime family for the murder of her husband.

The book was steeped in commentary about social issues, always providing questions without easy answers rather than preaching, on topics ranging from homophobia to abortion [and bombing of abortion clinics], devil worship, child pornography, date rape and incest.

The book first appeared in 1981 (publisher: Eclipsed) as “Ms. Tree” (6 issues) and “Ms. Tree’s Thrilling Detective Adventures” (9 issues, with the title switching back to “Ms. Tree” at issue 4). The numbering was continued its second publisher (Aardvark-Vanaheim) for 6 issues, before moving to the Aardvark-Vanaheim/Renegade imprint (3 issues) and then Renegade (issues 19-50 and a few specials). The series ended at DC in 1990-93 with 10 quarterly issues. There is talk of a reprint collection coming out soon.

This is the cover from issue #13 at A-V from 1984 (the version with the overlay of the logo is shown below).

It’s a nice representation of the detective “putting the pieces together” for the climax of a mystery story.

When Ms. Tree figures out the killings relate to an incident that occurred when she was in high school, she is able to track down the serial killer in “Sex and the Singles Slasher” and “Jigsaw,” chapters seven and eight of the 8-part “Deadline” saga.

Anatomy of Another Commission (Part 2)

Although Dave Sim committed to the 300 issues for the Cerebus the Aardvark series, he also maintains that the story he had in mind was summed up by the end of issue #200, making issues #201-300 one incredibly long epilogue to the story. It is true that all of the dangling threads in the overall mythos were wrapped up by #200, and Dave went all “meta” by entering the story as a character to make a point about the role of creators in stories and the control they have over their creations.

As the story is winding up, Cerebus is shown having an inner monologue with Dave. Dave plays himself, perfectly aware of himself as the writer and artist. Cerebus, on the other hand, is interacting with his creator, and has no context for understanding what that means. In fiction, this theme is the exact subject of a terrific book called “Flatland,” (Edwin Abbott, 1884) in which the inhabitants of a 2D universe cannot conceptualize what it is like to exist in 3D (in my comparison, delightfully, the comic book page is a 2D universe). The metaphor that Dave is playing out is more explicitly religious (although Flatland is about this, too), and he wants to make a point about how we cannot understand it, anyhow, when our creator is revealed to us. At this point, rather playfully, he imagines the creator could just as well be a couple of guys at drawing boards.

A whimsical creator is also not unlike the point that Philip K Dick makes in The Adjustment Bureau, or the compelling argument getting serious consideration that we all live in a Matrix-like simulation (because we are on the verge of creating VR/AI that is indistinguishable from our perception of reality, the odds of this being the first time it has been done are vanishingly small; and it turns out to solve some standing anomalies such as the finite speed of light and the observations of quantum entanglement).

The scenario at the end of issue #200 sets up what could have been a magnum opus 100-page parody on religious belief that might have rivaled “Life of Brian” or “Book of Mormon.” Things turned out differently, but that’s someone else’s story to tell. You want to see some old school Western fundamentalism in action, though? Google “Life of Brian – 1979 Debate” and pull up the 4 segments from the BBC program on YouTube; everything that happens after the two non-Python panelists show up is TV Worth Watching. Forty years is a long, and not so long, time ago.

As issue #200 wraps up, Dave makes a point about how belief requires a leap of faith, which is what he asks his creation to do on page 17 (all of the copies of the pages here are courtesy of “Cerebus Downloads” as I do not own any of them; as of this writing, you can download all 6000 of so pages for USD $99).

Cerebus the Aardvark #200, p. 17

Dave (panel 1): Now all you have to do is jump off the rock you’re…
Dave (panel 2): Listen, I hate to interrupt your… parade, but we’re running out of space here.
Dave (panel 3): You just have to jump off the rock you’re standing on…
Dave (panel 4): You’ll drift down through the “whiteness” for a while and the nextthing you know you’ll be right outside the tavern…
Dave (panel 5): So jump already.

Turns out, when you see things from the creator’s perspective, things are different than from the creation’s. That white space is the white space of the drawing board, and the creation (in the mind of the artist) is running through this narrative and you (the creator) get to decide what gets codified.

As a creation (if you accept that you are a creation, but let’s run with that for a moment), then Dave’s proposition is that you cannot know the mind of your creator because your perspectives are so different (another assumption, but let’s run with that for a moment). Cerebus (the creation, living in a 2D universe) cannot get past the things that he knows (his 2D perspective) and cannot even begin to understand the references made by his creator in the 3D universe (we are “running out of space” in this issue of the comic book you are in, for instance). So you hear what you hear and understand whatever clues you can make out from your creator, and when it comes time, you just have to take a leap of faith. Dave’s proposition, not mine, on the consequences of page 17.

I will most leave aside for now: (1) that you have to accept you are an intentional creation, (2) that you cannot know the mind (perspective) of your creator, and (3) that taking the leap of faith is ultimately hypocritical to these assumptions because you are still making a guess about the unknowable mind of your creator. More about that in a moment.

Which brings us to one of my favorite comics pages ever: page 18.

Cerebus the Aardvark #200, p. 18

Cerebus takes his leap of faith. And he’s codified on the first panel. But now we see life from the mind of the creator, and we realize that what had been codified is also dynamic. The top panel captures the fall, and the fall continues. Dave crunches a carrot at the codified panel, but a moment later, in panel 2, Cerebus is tumbling and Dave is chewing as time is moved forward. Cerebus tumbles, Dave finishes the carrot, and tosses the stogie past Gerhard. All captured on the page that is on the page, ad infinitum. Have you seen the intro to the terrific series “Black Mirror”? This is the point where you see the >crack< happen.

On page 19, we are fully in the creator’s world. The creator is out of the shadows and revealed. The page is done and everything is in synch (note the lack of tone in the Cerebus figures; this is now “just” the drawing, in contrast with the imagined reality on the previous page).

Cerebus the Aardvark #200, p. 19

And what is Dave’s take on three assumptions, here? I think he comes down squarely on the side of the assumptions of religious belief being (1) that you have to accept you are an intentional creation, (2) that you cannot know the mind (perspective) of your creator, and (3) that taking the leap of faith is ultimately hypocritical to these assumptions because you are still making a guess about the unknowable mind of your creator. Dave is playing the role here of that famously historical philosopher, Bugs Bunny (note the carrot), and quotes the bunny from the endless situations where he has duped an antagonist into a leap of faith and bending to his will: (to quote the bunny) “what a maroon… what an ultra-maroon…” This page and its mocking is critical to understanding the message. Taking your belief that you can know the mind of your creator (and listen) and that what you need to do is take a leap of faith (and follow) is just another unknowable thing, not a legitimate conclusion.

And do not even get me started on whether the audience is created by the author, or vice versa, cuz a tree just fell in the woods (heh… something fell).

Some other day, we can follow through with the creation/creator assumption and decide whether or not a creation can have free will or not. Cerebus is told that his action is a leap of faith, but in reality it is predestination, literally at and in the hands of his creator. This scenario was setting up a direction for a meditation on religious beliefs that later ended up (in the words of the bunny) taking a left turn at Albuquerque.

And on page 20, a little reminder as the carrot has landed and the epilogue kicks off.

Cerebus the Aardvark #200, p. 20

Next: A New Reality

Dick Tracy #89 p 29 (July, 1955)

Hickey was a cartoonist during WWII for the US Army newspaper Stars and Stripes. After the war, he resumed his comic art career as a freelancer. The Dick Tracy comic book included a one-page feature called “Girl Friday,” drawn by Hickey, showcasing the adventures of Tracy’s assistant solving some minute-mysteries.

I wanted this page because I thought it contained direct evidence of the censoring done soon after the introduction of the Comics Code Authority (CCA) in 1954.

First, a little background. The code was created to allow comic publishers to self-regulate content in lieu of government regulations. Congressional hearings had demonized adult-themed, war and horror comics as contributing to juvenile delinquency (think of the modern-day vilification of video games), not to mention the normalization of skeevy same-sex relationships (Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson being the most popular scapegoats). Visions of 2019: The more things change….

Comic pages were submitted to the CCA for scrutiny, needed edits, and finally the stamp of approval. Comics that were approved prominently displayed the CCA “stamp” on their covers once the issue was in compliance. Stan Lee famously thumbed his nose at the CCA in 1971 with the publication of a cautionary drug-abuse story involving Spider-Man (#96-98), which appeared without the CCA logo. In 2001, Marvel withdrew from the CCA. The last two publishers abandoned it in 2011.

In the original art on this page, I have always suspected evidence of CCA intervention. In this case, there are four changes that were made (by inspecting the penciled in margin notes and the white out): (1) panel 2: a “Bang!” sound effect of the gun is replaced by an exclamation point; (2) panel 3: the body is gone, completely, although its feet reappear in panel 4; (3) panel 6: too much accentuation of the left breast; (4) panel 7: too much leg showing with a slit skirt.

Dick Tracy #89 p 29 (July, 1955)
by Tom Hickey (1910-1984)
13 x 20 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

Admittedly, this is speculation, but when I was looking up the background of this page for this post, I just found out that the appearance of this episode in the code-approved issue #89 (July 1955) is actually a reprint of the page, and it originally ran in issue #61 (March 1953).

What geeks me out is that March 1953 is pre-code, so I predict that all four of these speculative changes are present, in their original form, in the published 1953 issue, and the changes that were made were done in 1955.

Yes, indeed: I immediately raced to eBay and ordered me some copies of Dick Tracy #61 and #89.

Stay tuned.

Anatomy of Another Commission (Part 1)

Let’s review: in 1977, a comic book fan, fan-artist, and creative fellow named David Victor Sim started an impressive project. A radical proponent of Creator’s Rights against the historical backdrop of Work-for-Hire that dominated the creative arts since, well, forever, he set out, to create and self-publish what ended up as a ca. 6000-page graphic novel, in 300 issues, which wrapped up in 2004.

This description does reasonable disservice to “Cerebus the Aardvark,” but it’s a start. Dave’s contributions to the comic book form are considerable and rock-solid.

Dave’s homegrown publishing company, Aardvark-Vanaheim, evolved over time. His eventual co-creator, an incredibly terrific draftsman named Gerhard, joined the book at issue #65 and continued through to issue #300. Dave plotted and wrote the book, and he (by and large) laid out the pages or at least the concepts. He did the finished figures (characters), the lettering, and the word balloons and other sound effects, then passed on the rest of the page, with all of the environment and context to complete, to Gerhard.

Gerhard divested himself of his interest in A-V a few years after #300 came out and now freelances.

I have been, and always will be (your friend… oh, sorry, that’s what Mr. Spock says) a strong advocate for the Cerebus series and what it represents in the history of the medium. About 2000 or so pages of the original art were sold, over the years, and I have about 10% of them. It’s pretty cool art.

“Cerebus the Aardvark” 80 p 11 (Nov 1985)
by Dave Sim (1956-) and Gerhard (1959-)
11 x 17 in, ink on Bristol Board
Coppola Collection

Dave and Gerhard (“Dave’n’Ger”) did a few commissions for me over the years while the book was still running, and just afterwards.

Since 2004, Dave has worked on a few new projects. His noteworthy memorial to the Holocaust called Judenhass is worth reading. He’s a fan of the photorealistic comic strips of the early-to-mid 20thcentury, and was working on an illustrated history of the genre (The Strange Death of Alex Raymond) when the wrist on his drawing hand started having problems.

The project stalled, and he ended up enlisting a talented young artist named Carson Grubaugh to take over the art chores, under his close scripting and layout/design. Their other project is called You Don’t Know… Jack. I’m not 100% sure I know what that one is about.

I’ve collaborated with Gerhard quite a bit since 2004, and asked him to work on a few crazy commission ideas… all of which he has pulled off beyond any reasonable expectation, and even that description is so inadequate that it is really is rather like looking up in the Sistine Chapel and saying “hey, nice ceiling… pull my finger.”

“Set a Spell” (2013)
by Gerhard (1959-) from a 1939 photo by Dorothea Lange
30 x 24, ink and watercolor on archival paper
Coppola Collection

OK, that’s the set up and all the players. I like Cerebus the Aardvark, a 6000-page graphic novel that came out in 300 issues and 16 collected volumes between 1977-2004. I collect the original art and have worked on commissions with artists (in general), perhaps more with Gerhard than any other. Dave Sim is working on The Strange Death of Alex Raymond and You Don’t Know… Jack in collaboration with Carson Grubaugh, who has replaced Dave’s wrist as the representational artist in these A-V projects.

The year 2017 was the 40th anniversary of the first appearance of Cerebus #1, and I wanted to do something to commemorate that.

Next: A Break from Reality

“Dick Tracy” (09/01/1947)

“Dick Tracy” (09/01/1947)
by Chester Gould (1900-1985)
20 x 6 in., ink on Bristol
Coppola Collection

Chester Gould created the Dick Tracy character, and then wrote and drew the popular series from 1931 to 1977. He famously introduced the two-way wrist radio in 1946, and the television version of it in 1947. A pity he did not live to see the Apple Watch.

“Dick Tracy” (09/05/1983)

Dick Tracy (09/05/1983)
by Dick Locher (1929-2017) and Max Collins (1948-)
13 x 3.75 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

I am always intrigued to pick up an example of how scientists are represented in the popular culture. This one is a treat.


I am not a big Dick Tracy fan, but there was a time when it was one of the most recognizable and well-known strips there was. The team of Locher and Collins, running from 1983-1992, is perhaps second in familiarity only to the strip’s creator, Chester Gould.

Gould started the Dick Tracy strip in 1931 as both its writer and artist. He stayed with the strip until Christmas day, 1977, when the writing was turned over to Max Allan Collins and the art chores to one of Gould’s longtime assistants, Rick Fletcher.

Collins, a prolific mystery writer (co-creator of the Ms. Tree comics series in the 1980s) stayed on through 1992.

In 1957, Dick Locher began assisting Chester Gould on Dick Tracy, where he inked the figures and colored the Sunday strips. He left the strip in 1961 to work on other areas, including starting an advertising company, where he worked on designing some of McDonald’s characters. In 1973, Locher became an editorial cartoonist at the Chicago Tribune, on Gould’s strong recommendation, and he retired from that in 2013.

Tracy artist Fletcher died in March 1983, and Locher joined Collins as the third artist on the Dick Tracy strip. In April of the same year, and the year of this particular example, Locher won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. He stayed with the Tracy strip until 2011.