Friday, November 25, 2011

Book Review: CHESTER GOULD: A DAUGHTER'S BIOGRAPHY OF THE CREATOR OF DICK TRACY by Jean Gould O'Connell (McFarland Press, 2007)

The title pretty much says it all, but the accompanying illustrations make the package worthwhile. O'Connell, the founder of the DICK TRACY Museum in Woodstock, IL, where Gould dwelled for most of his working life, sketches a heartfelt and loving tribute to her father that perhaps spends a bit too much time on describing the building of and renovations to Gould's rural homestead but makes up for it with many other interesting anecdotes. The real treats are the many vintage photographs, drawings, strips, and other matter that give the TRACY fan a more thorough glimpse into Gould's early career than has previously been available. Here you will see Gould's drawings for various college publications at Oklahoma State University, his charming panel feature IN THE SPORT SPOTLIGHT for an Oklahoma City newspaper, several examples of his oddball 1924 "talking animal" strip THE RADIO CATTS (including the one in which the Catt family permanently "morphs" into human beings right before your eyes), and several of the sixty (!) different strip ideas that Gould fired off to Captain Joseph Patterson before the legendary TRIBUNE/DAILY NEWS syndicate chief famously wired him that "your Plainclothes Tracy [sic] has possibilities."

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