What’s Going On In Dick Tracy? Are new people taking over the comic? October 2021


Yes and no. Sunday’s Dick Tracy caught me by surprise, as one unrelated to the current Time Drone storyline. It was instead about a bunch of people talking about how they made a great team, but one’s at the end of the line and he says goodbye.

What this is, as ever per D D Degg at The Daily Cartoonist, is pencil artist Joe Staton leaving the strip after a decade. (Also, wow, it’s been a decade since Staton and Mike Curtis took over Dick Tracy!) Shelley Pleger, who’s been the inker and letterer for all that time, is to take over doing layouts and pencils too. Mike Curtis is staying on as writer, so far as I’ve heard.

On the 'Tracy Express' bus, Joe Staton observes, 'Well, we're coming up on 10 years. We've made a great team.' Mike Curtis, driving the bus, adds, 'And don't forget our support staff. Carol, who does my first edit; Hilarie doing payroll and scheduling. There's also Terry and Kyra with Sheley and Shane. And finally, Walt who does the crimestoppers.' Staton says, 'It's been great, but this is where I get off.' From the street, and holding his spouse, he waves, 'Goodbye, everyone!' The last panel sees the bus from behind with the message 'More to come!' on it.
Joe Staton, Mike Curtis, Shelly Pleger, and Shane Fisher’s Dick Tracy for the 24th of October, 2021. It’s a bit startling to hear how many people are involved in supporting the making of the strip. I imagine some of these people are spouses, whose support may be more about emotional stability and reminding one to eat and such. And that some of it is people who handle the paperwork of keeping many comic strips organized. Still, when you read books about how to draw a web comic you don’t hear about what kind of support staff you need to successfully draw three or four panels a day and eight panels on Sundays. It’s no wonder every web cartoonist I’ve known is exhausted.

I’m a touch surprised the change in lead artist came mid-story, but I suppose one has to step down sometime. And with the reappearance Monday of Oliver Warbucks we have reason to think the story’s got a fair while left in it.

If any more news about the comic strip comes to my attention, or you’d like to read my plot recaps, you should find an essay here. And tomorrow I intend to have a recap of the last three months’ worth of Mary Worth. Thanks for reading.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

7 thoughts on “What’s Going On In Dick Tracy? Are new people taking over the comic? October 2021”

    1. Yeah, I suppose they’ve decided to keep the art steady, at least for the remainder of the story. (I have no information about whether they’ve considered making any major art changes.) Pleger’s been doing the inking for a decade now so likely has a good sense of how to draw in this style.

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    1. Looks like! I guess for ways to use a Time Drone to get your own scratch on the side, horse-racing results isn’t too bad. Can’t go for the lottery or something like that without the rest of the Apparatus getting wise. A couple thousand dollars at a time betting seems easier to get away with.

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