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It's a corpse. In a copse. Get it? Hah? Haaah?

(From Dick Tracy. Click on the thumbnail for full sized MUR-DAR!)

There is a popular perception in the broader cartoonist community that continuing strips after the original creators have passed on is a bad thing. I'm honestly not of that opinion, so long as the successors do right by the original vision. I think it's better to keep the legacy of Chester Gould, Lee Falk and Segar alive by keeping the characters they created in the public consciousness. I think it works by far best with the adventure strips, because those are, after all, continuing adventures. With something like Nancy or Blondie, it doesn't work as well -- all apologies to the Gilchrists, but despite their love of Ernie Bushmiller and their efforts to duplicate his style, it just hasn't happened. It'd be better to simply reprint the originals, to my mind. It's not like anyone reading the newspaper today has read them before.

But adventure lives in the hearts and minds of those who read, and so with Annie, Dick Tracy, the Phantom and their ilk, it's better by far to expose them to a new generation in all their two fisted glory. Dick Tracy does a particularly good job -- the strip continues its tradition of grotesque villains with punnish names, gunplay still exists, and the stakes remain high. In today's strip, inaugurating a series where Dick and Tess's daughter is heading to college, we see what appears to be the leg of the corpse of a girl we saw being shadowed by a dark figure yesterday, heading to the dorm. This is harsh, and cold, and dark. And Chester Gould would smile if he saw it.

Looking through my beloved Smithsonian collection, I read through some of the Gould strips archived therein. These were bloody and violent and dark affairs. If Dick Tracy were sanitized "to protect the children," I'd lead the charge to eliminate the poseurs. As it is, I think it helps maintain Gould's legacy.


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