Posted by on February 7th, 2011 at 10:47 PM

After 32 years drawing and/or writing Dick Tracy, Dick Locher is giving up stewardship of the iconic cops and robbers comic strip, which turns 80 next October 4. Born just two years before the cleaver-jawed sleuth, Locher, who has Parkinson’s, told Michael Cavna at Washington Post ComicRiffs blog that it’s time to move on; he plans to do “normal things” with his family, to travel and to paint the American Southwest.

Starting March 14, Dick Tracy will be written by Mike Curtis and drawn by Joe Staton. “We’re fortunate to have found a creative team that has a passion and a feel to carry on the combined legacy of Locher and Tracy’s creator, Chester Gould,” said TMS executive Jan Guszynski.

Staton and Curtis have worked together on Scooby Doo, Richie Rich, and Casper the Friendly Ghost. Staton has enjoyed a long career in comic books, starting in 1971 at the now defunct Charlton Comics, where he became a fan favorite on E-Man. He worked briefly at Marvel and was art director at First Comics for three years in the 1980s but spent most of his comic book career at DC Comics, on such titles as Justice Society of America and Green Lantern. Colleagues Shelley Pledger and Shane Fisher will do the lettering and inking and Sunday coloring, respectively.

Locher joined Gould as his assistant in 1957, inking and coloring the strip for four years, after which, he set himself up as an advertising agency. Gould and Locker stayed in touch, often having lunch together, then in 1973, Gould recommended Locher to fill the vacant editorial cartooning chair at the Chicago Tribune, and the Trib hired Locher despite his having no experience in editooning.

When Gould retired from Tracy after 46 years, another assistant, Rick Fletcher, took over the drawing. Fletcher died in 1983, and Locher, still editorial cartoonist at the strip’s flagship paper, the Tribune, returned to do the drawing. The same year, Locher won a Pulitzer, the first of several awards he would receive for editorial cartooning.

He took over scripting as well as drawing Tracy in 2005 when writer Mike Kilian died. For the last year or so, Locher’s pencils on the strip have been inked and embellished by Jim Brozman.

Locher, who has been in frail health for the last few years after surviving a bout with cancer, has long regarded himself as the steward of Chester Gould’s creation, an American icon, and he aimed simply to maintain the legend.

“For a long and wondrous 32 years, I’ve been in the right-hand seat of Tracy’s squad car,” Locher said in a statement. “I can only hope that in this time I’ve entertained my readers and lived up to the lofty expectations of Chester Gould’s glow. It’s been an incredible ride, but this is where I step off.”

Locher will continue to draw political cartoons for Tribune Media Services. “It’s too much fun to stop doing it,” he told Cavna.

As for Locher’s Tracy, I say: you were more than a mere steward, Dick. Take the rest of the day off. (That last quip is one of Locher’s own, which he deployed as a way of saying “job well done.”)

Next: A look at Staton and Curtis’ Tracy.

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  1. WLLilly says:

    …I’m friends with Staton on Facebook , and his logo had the Tracy logo in it , I think I had wondered if that meant…Anyway , thannks for the info , of course !

  2. WLLilly says:

    …This does of course men that the Tracy strip for the first time will be handled by an artist with no past history with Gould , I have often thought about that…