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January 20, 2011


Dick Locher's Retirement And The Story That Wasn't The Story

imageA million sites out there are carrying news that Dick Locher, the one-time assistant to Chester Gould who returned to Dick Tracy in the early 1980s and began a well-regarded, quarter-century run, has decided to retire from the daily strip grind. Locher's an effective political cartoonist and will continue to do those for Tribune Media Services, but being released from the strip will give him more time for family and outside artistic pursuits. In a time where cartoonists have a hard time getting employment in the first place, there's something that brings a smile to one's face about anyone deciding to retire, a job well-done, a gigantic stack of comics as a legacy that can't be taken away.

imageArtist Joe Staton and writer Mike Curtis will take over Dick Tracy starting in March. I'm happy for Staton, a longtime comic-book veteran who created page upon page of compelling work at a time it seems to me that the entire industry and collective readership leaned against his signature style. It makes perfect sense to me that Staton admires Gould's signature work as some of the PR indicates he does; Staton has a vibrant line that should be a lot of fun to see on those comics pages that continue to take the feature. Speaking of papers that continue to publish Dick Tracy, the thing that occurred to me this morning as I thought about the story is that it would have been a hell of a thing if Locher's departure had ended the series, coming as it would have a few days after Brenda Starr filed her last story and some months after Little Orphan Annie and Daddy Warbucks were reunited a final time (although come to think of it, I don't think they were). I take it that the numbers are different for the yellow-raincoat wearing detective than they are/were for some of the other legacy strips that have either hung it up or are thinking about it, but seeing as that is where I bet a lot of people went when they heard about Locher saying goodbye, I wouldn't be surprised if the legacy strips as we know them really are essentially on the cusp of a radical shift from almost always a good idea to much more of an arguable one.
 
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