In 1931, Chester Gould introduced comic strip readers to a trench coat-clad, fedora-wearing, intrepid police detective named Dick Tracy. Tracy’s hard-nosed sense of justice, colorful collection of rogues, and inventive gadgets captured the imagination of readers and allowed him to step out into other mediums, like comics, toys, and films. The character continues to be a presence in comic strips, but his last major appearance in other media was the 1990 Dick Tracy feature film directed by and starring Warren Beatty.
This year Alex Segura, Michael Moreci, and Chantelle Aimée Osman, the holders of the Dick Tracy comic book rights, are looking to change all that with the launch of an all-new, ongoing Dick Tracy series from Mad Cave Studios. The book, written by Segura and Moreci and featuring art by Geraldo Borges, launches in April and will be a noir-tinged “Year One” approach to the character. CBR spoke with Segura and Moreci about their series’ late 1940s setting and their plans for Dick Tracy’s iconic collection of villains and supporting characters.
CBR: I’m guessing Dick Tracy is more than just an assignment for the two of you since you and Chantelle Aimée Osman hold the comic rights to the character. What does Tracy mean to you as fans and creators?
Michael Moreci: It’s definitely more than just another work-for-hire gig. I’ve loved Dick Tracy since the movie and have been passionate about that character and the rich world he inhabits since. It’s why Alex, Chantelle, and I have remained dedicated to this project for years. Some people know this already, but we tried to get a Dick Tracy series at Archie, but a rights snafu derailed that attempt. The Dick Tracy world, to me, is every bit as rich as Spider-Man’s or Batman’s. Why? Not only because of the great heroic character but also because of the rogues gallery that’s amongst the best there is. And Dick Tracy is especially rich for Alex and I, as people who love the crime genre.
Alex Segura: Yes, Michael nailed it. Working on Dick Tracy has been a dream and goal for all of us for years, and it feels like the long journey to bring our story to life is finally reaching the fun part! I’ve been enthralled by the DT universe since I was a kid, reading the old Gould newspaper strips, the Beatty movie, and — I’ll say it — the movie novelizations, too. Like Michael said, Dick Tracy‘s world is rich, complicated, and loaded with memorable characters. We’re just getting warmed up.
Dick Tracy started out as a newspaper comic strip, and over the years, he’s made the jump to a multitude of mediums. In addition to writing for comics, the two of you have written for a number of mediums as well, including film and prose. So, what makes writing this character for comics so appealing to you?
Segura: I think Dick Tracy is a character with a lot of upside. He’s the kind of concept that’s been around for decades, but in terms of comics, rarely in a consistent way. A lot of people are familiar with him, the look, and his world, but we want to bring people in on a deeper level and give people a fresh insight into why we love these characters.
Moreci: For me, a big part of Dick Tracy’s appeal is the untapped potential. It blows my mind that he hasn’t gotten a modern treatment in the way that, for example, James Bond got in Casino Royale. There’s so much room for growth and creativity by digging into Tracy’s history and giving it a bit of a modern spin. That doesn’t mean we’re forgetting the past — far, far from it. But we’re also not going to just try to ape Gould and re-create what’s already been done.
Segura: Yeah, exactly. First and foremost, this will be a fun, compelling, and noir crime comic that features Dick Tracy.
Tracy has been a detective throughout his 85 years of existence, but many facets of what that means and who he is have changed with the times. So, what do you see as the core elements of the character? What has to be there for it to feel like Dick Tracy to you?
Segura: Dick Tracy is a good man, full stop. He tries his best to do what’s right — not what’s prescribed to him or what he’s told to do by his bosses and those in power. It puts him in conflict with not only criminals but the establishment, in a way. I want us to show the elements that forged Dick Tracy into the more defined, iconic character millions are drawn to because Michael, Chantelle, Geraldo, and I really felt like this was an area of the character’s mythos that was mostly empty and that felt really fertile to us.
Tracy’s gadget watch is such an iconic part of the character, but there are wilder sci-fi elements in the character’s storied history. So, are there fantastical elements to your story? And if so, what can you tell us about them?
Moreci: [Laughs] Yeah, most people don’t know how strange, and oftentimes, bizarre, Dick Tracy was. I mean, the strip ran for so long –taking some detours was inevitable. Our first arc, though, is purely a noir crime story. We’re aware of the fantastical elements, but we’re not tapping into them just yet. Now, as for Volume 2…
Segura: Oh yeah, Tracy stories got WEIRD. Michael and I are both avid fans, so expect lots of nods and Easter Eggs, but we might not see DT in space. Yet.
When does your series take place? What made you choose this era as a setting?
Moreci: We’re very specific in the time we’re setting this — our story takes place in 1947, so it’s just after World War II. Again, there’s a definite, clear reason for that, rooted in Tracy’s character and the mood we’re trying to set.
Segura: This is Dick Tracy: Year One, basically.
What can you tell us about your plans for some of the classic Dick Tracy supporting characters, like his iconic rogues and his love interest, Tess Trueheart?
Moreci: We’re definitely playing with as many of the toys as we possibly can — but, at the same time, we’re being judicious because we don’t want to trot characters out for the sake of trotting them out. We want to give everyone in this world their due and ensure the stakes for every character remain meaningful. I can tease a few that you’ll see — Pat Patton, Chief Brandon, Tess … and a few more to come.
Segura: We’re going to flesh Tess out a lot. She’s been my favorite character to write because she’s so dynamic and fun in a very Lois Lane way. But yes, we’ll be slowly showcasing all the key players from Tracy lore but not without some major surprises, too.
While DC and Marvel focus on superheroes, Mad Cave Studios tackles every other genre, producing fantastic sci-fi, fantasy and horror comics.
Geraldo Borges’ art for Marvel’s Thunderbolts series has me excited about his work on Dick Tracy. What’s it like working with Geraldo? What can you tell us about his approach to the book?
Segura: Geraldo has the perfect blend of dynamic art and cinematic sensibilities. I’d seen him posting pages from his Image series, No/One, co-written by pals Kyle Higgins and Brian Buccellato, and was blown away. It just happened to land on my screen just as we were trying to figure out with Mad Cave who would draw the series. He’s one of the hardest-working people in comics and a genuinely great person, so he’s fit in really well on the team, and we’re so lucky to have him. He brings a grounded, noir look to the book that we very much needed from the artist.
Finally, Chantelle Aimée Osman serves as a creative consultant on this book. What does that mean? What’s it like collaborating with her? Are there any other collaborators you want to give a shout-out to?
Segura: Chantelle is an old pal of Michael and I’s and has been a key part in the process of getting the Dick Tracy rights. She’s another strong voice in the room in terms of story and the brand and has been really invaluable. In terms of other collaborators, I want to say a big thank you to everyone at Mad Cave, particularly our editor, Chas! Pangburn, who has been a dream to deal with. They’ve been so supportive, flexible, and excited for this project. It’s been a real treat to work with them. Mark Englert is our colorist, and he’s worked on a lot of Geraldo’s stuff, so there’s some familiarity there. His palette is impressive, and we’re just so happy to have such a killer team on this book. It’ll hopefully show on the page.
From Pruneface and Rhodent to Pouch, Little Face, and more, discover the ugliest and most grotesque Dick Tracy comic strip villains.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share about Dick Tracy?
Moreci: Above all, I want potential readers to know two things. First, what we’re doing is not, at all, some cheeky homage that’s going to feel like something unearthed from decades ago. While we love the Dick Tracy past, while we cherish Gould’s work and plan to honor it fully, this is the newest take anyone has seen since at least the Beatty film — and even that was over 30 years ago. This Dick Tracy is more complex, more modern, and a bit darker than what he’s been before. But, and this goes to my second point, longtime Tracy readers will find plenty to love here. They’ll fully understand what Alex and I are doing, and I think they’ll find it refreshing. We’re giving Dick Tracy the love and care he’s deserved for far too long, and I invite everyone, new readers and old, to give Issue #1 a shot. They won’t be disappointed.
Segura: Like Michael said, we’re not playing the hits. We will honor and evoke the classic core elements of the hero and his world, but we want to run it through the prism of what we’re great at — suspenseful stories, hardboiled noir mysteries, and a nod to the films we all love. We’re taking a very grounded approach to the idea and treating it as though Dick Tracy and his world were real, and we’re really excited by the results. We think longtime fans will be psyched, and the book will also serve as a great doorway to new readers as well.
DICK TRACY RETURNS IN A NEW ONGOING COMIC BOOK SERIES FROM MAD CAVE!
A new era for the iconic detective starts here, from bestselling and acclaimed authors Alex Segura and Michael Moreci, as an all-new, noir-infused chapter in the Dick Tracy legacy kicks off with superstar artist Geraldo Borges.
In the aftermath of World War II, the country stands frozen–waiting for the next shoe to drop. In The City, a brutal murder draws the attention of rising star detective Dick Tracy, who soon discovers the bloodshed is just the beginning of a complicated web that threatens to ensnare everything he cares about.
Blending the classic elements of the Dick Tracy world (including his iconic villains, supporting cast, and unforgettable watch radio) with a hardboiled and realistic take, DICK TRACY #1 kicks off a fresh and modern take on the iconic detective that remains true to his rich history.
Dick Tracy #1 is due out on April 24.
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