Leave to a pair of Southerners to inject some delicious fresh life into America’s favorite octogenarian flatfoot. “Dick Tracy” fans are applauding the comic strip’s brand-new creative team of artist Joe Staton and writer Mike Curtis since they took over the legendary adventure strip this spring.
For starters, the art is crisp and creative with a strong visual homage to “Tracy” creator Chester Gould‘s heyday in the strip in the 1940s and 1950s while the writing is fast-paced and loaded with wit and winks to longtime readers. Alas, while the strip isn’t widely carried in newspapers these days, fans can subscribe to “Dick Tracy” at comics sites like Gocomics.com and have the strip emailed daily to them.
Staton and Curtis actually grew up separately following their favorite detective as kids in Tennessee, reading the Jackson Sun. In their first story as Tracy’s brand-new guardians, the pair brought back two of their favorite Gould-era villains from their childhoods, the insect-attracting Flyface and his smarmy sidekick attorney The Fifth.
“It’s been a fun challenge for us to find some of Tracy’s old nemeses that Gould hadn’t already killed off in some spectacular fashion,” explains Curtis. “We’re usually good if the bodies were never found or if they got carted off to prison. In the case of Flyface and The Fifth, it was pretty easy since they were the victims of a tidal wave and were never found. But using a classic villain like Pruneface is hard. When Gould impaled someone on a flagpole, It’s pretty difficult to write yourself out of a corner like that!”
Thanks to Staton and Curtis, the classic villains are joined by a pair of freshly baked creations in Tracy’s latest adventure. There’s a famous Southern TV chef named Flakey Biscuits (who looks a whole lot like Paula Deen) who may or may not be trafficking Scarface-esque quantities of cocaine in 40-pound bags of flour from her Flakey Biscuits Flour factory with her nefarious assistant Hot Rize. Naturally, Tracy’s favorite hillbilly couple B.O. Plenty and Gravel Gertie are huge Flakey Biscuits viewers who get entangled in Tracy’s latest crime wave.
Miraculously, the hillbilly couple who were decidedly way over the hill when Gould first introduced them in 1944 are celebrating the birth of their second child, Attitude Plenty.
Explains Curtis: “We look at everything that’s happened to Tracy in the 80-year span of the strip as something that happened a few years back. I mean, no one is going to let a 100-year-old detective run around chasing bad guys.”
When asked how a 140-year-old woman Gertie’s age is giving birth in 2011, Staton suggests: “A whole lot of clean living.” Of their Deen-like creation, Staton says, “That’s really a continuation of a Gould tradition. Gould always used popular band leaders and radio and TV personalities in the strip. We’re having a little bit of fun with Paula Deen in this story.”
Curtis, a former New Orleans deputy sheriff, meanwhile, won’t cop to anything. For the record, he won’t confirm that Deen was the inspiration for Biscuits or that she’s the queen pin of Tracy’s current cocaine trafficking headache. But in today’s strip, things don’t look good for Flakey, who’s about to roll over on Hot Rize like a rolling pin on a butter-enhanced pie crust.
Cracks Curtis: “All I can say is that my wife is a huge Paula Deen fan. I’m hoping I can get an autograph for her out of this. And not get sued!”