The Century Walk Corporation

At 75, Dick Tracy's still on the beat

October 4, 2006 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL) — Author: Mike Mitchell

For 75 years, Dick Tracy has been busting bad guys - ones with flat heads, guys who mumble and a few whose faces look like prunes.

Like many real police officers, he'll be honored today for his public service as part of "Dick Tracy Day," marking the 75th anniversary of the detective's comic strip.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and a few other local politicians paid tribute to the cartoon earlier this week in Chicago and several of the world's most popular comic strips, including "Mutts" and "The Pink Panther," will feature Dick Tracy in their story lines.

"I think it's the great characters," said Dick Locher, a Naperville resident, who has been drawing for the cartoon since 1983. "I think people look for someone to still protect (us) and punish the bad guys. That's precisely what Dick Tracy does."

"Dick Tracy," about a Chicago detective in the 1930s who wears a bright yellow fedora, is read by about 10 million people daily, Locher said. The cartoon is syndicated.

"Dick Tracy still lives," said Locher, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 and a John Fischetti Editorial Cartoon Award in 1987. "He is a real person. He uses deodorant and even fights with his wife. ... I think people just gravitate toward a real character."

The cartoon was created by Chester Gould, whose first "Dick Tracy" comic was published in the Detroit Mirror in 1931. By 1954 real suspect lineups began appearing in the strip to assist the FBI and local law enforcement. An animated TV series based on the character aired from 1961 to 1964.

Locher, who took over the writing for the cartoon in January, said he received a call from the FBI recently thanking him for putting the 10 most wanted from al-Qaida in a recent comic.

"They told me that since so many people were reading the comic, that they just wanted to thank me for doing that," he said. "It's a relationship (with the FBI), and we're privy to some things that a lot of people might not know. It's really neat."

Naperville Police Chief David Dial also honored the character.

"I'm just a huge fan of both Dick Tracy and Dick Locher," Dial said. "You know, I don't know why other people might still like the character. It could be people's fascination with crime, I'm not sure.

"But you see how Tracy talks into his wristwatch - it's almost a reality today with law enforcement and how technology has changed things.

"So I do think it's great the police are put in a great light (in the cartoon)."

Contact Mike Mitchell at 630-416-5279 or mmitchell@scn1.com.

Naperville cartoonist Dick Locher has been drawing "Dick Tracy" for 23 years. The comic strip turns 75 today.


Section: AROUND TOWN — Page: 5