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Exhibition Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages

Chester Gould (1900–1985). Dick Tracy. “That’s my story, gentlemen. . . ,” February 10, 1935. Unknown newspaper. Stephen A. Geppi Collection, Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress (009.00.00) Used by Permission. © 2019 Tribune Content Agency, Llc.

Detective Dick Tracy

Chester Gould submitted sixty unsuccessful comic strip ideas to publisher Joseph Medill Patterson before succeeding with detective “Plainclothes Tracy.” Dick Tracy debuted in the Detroit Mirror in 1931 and ran for forty-six years. Gould’s use of heavy bold lines and chiseled faces combined with his convoluted plots delighted readers. Although Gould studied forensics and criminal procedures for authenticity, his improvisations sometimes led to absurd storylines. The strip introduced technology that at the time seemed outlandish—the two-way wrist radio (1946) and the portable surveillance camera (1948).