“I’ve Drawn Thousands of Comics”

Posted by on February 9th, 2011 at 4:13 PM

“I’VE DRAWN THOUSANDS OF COMICS,” said a jubilant Joe Staton. “I’ve drawn detectives and funny comics. Whenever I’ve answered the question, ‘What is your dream project?’ Dick Tracy ranked high on the list. I’ve been wanting to do this since I was 3 years old,” he told Tracie Simer at the Jackson Sun in Tennessee.

And now, he’s achieved a lifelong ambition: Staton and his friend Mike Curtis have been picked to carry on the Dick Tracy tradition, Staton drawing and Curtis writing the strip.

The dramatically eye-patched Curtis has written mostly funny comics, including some original work. He discovered Staton as a fellow Tracy fan when they met at a comics industry conference in Memphis in the mid-1980s. They soon learned they had grown up 25 miles apart from each other. They both bought second-hand comic books in Jackson at the same store but never ran into each other.

“We lived parallel paths, and they finally overlapped,” Staton said. “We’ve known each other quite a while. Whenever we get together, this dream project would come up”—doing Dick Tracy.

Conjuring big plans with Staton for 2011, Tracy’s 80th year, Curtis has stories plotted through July. He writes out the daily strips in a rough strip format, scans them and sends them to Staton, who then draws in the characters and scenery.

“We all have our take on how we’re doing it,” Staton said. “For my part of it, I’m trying to emulate exactly what came before us. The influence of the original art is such a basis of how I start, how I draw anything.”

Even two panels of the Staton rendition of Tracy demonstrate that he has successfully revived the strip’s visual ambiance, banishing the solo talking heads era of Dick Locher’s last years on the strip.

With his tight close-ups, Locher was doubtless trying to survive in a world in which comic strip panels were relentlessly shrinking. (He also religiously adhered to a syndicate admonision never to exceed 35 words in a single strip.) But Staton is aiming to do more than survive: it’s clear that he aims to revive and thrive.

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2 Responses to ““I’ve Drawn Thousands of Comics””

  1. WLLilly says:

    …I’, happy for Joe’s new gig , and I imagine I’ll enjoy it , and I’m happy that Dick’s getting hus desired retirement , but I have , in the past , thought that Dick’s you-should-pardon-the-expression ” noir ” feel , relentlessly dark , look was of interest…Actually something different from Gould , a bit !
    I’m not saying that Joe should emulate him , and , if Trib is allowing Curtis a touch more leeway in the writing as well , wel , ” happy happy joy joy “…I will say , though , that , having only r-started reading the strip in the last 6 months or so , late-end Loucher’s artistic approach had some good points to it too , though you’tr tight about the head close-ups fascination…And that story a couple months back where a bunch of homeless people ALL turned out to be disguised Feds ! Ay yi yi .

  2. WLLilly says:

    …I’m not entirly happy that I’ve been typing this with glasses inacessable , however………..