June 26, 2019
One in a weekly series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of our favorite comic books, comic strips, and graphic novels.
Little Face Finney had a tiny face on the middle of his face. The expanse up his forehead rose like a stroll on the beach, waves of hair curled on the horizon; his wide cheeks ended on the distance shores of his ears; his chin a pinched afterthought. At least, that was my child’s eye view, peering at one of the villains in Dick Tracy’s Rogue’s Gallery — from Chester Gould‘s 1931–1977 comic strip, Dick Tracy. In one brutal sequence, Little Face is locked in a freezing meat truck, gets his ears amputated, hides by rolling himself up in a suffocating rug, only to be ousted when the cops use a swarm of bees to sting him into screaming release.
These grotesque tales fixated in my young memory, at least as best I can recall down the tunnel of time. As a child, I felt trapped in sheltered suburbia. I scrawled a Jean Genet quote, “Family is the first prison,” on my school notebook. I must have noticed how cool Dick Tracy looked, with his futuristic two-way radio watch. I might have felt relief when he nabbed and jailed the dreadful Pruneface, Mumbles, Pear-Shape. Memory is treacherous. Mostly I recall sympathy for monsters. Dick Tracy’s captivating villains lured me into an early monster love that morphed over the years, the kind of monster love you can only have until you actually meet one.
Childhood is blinkered. We’re told who to be, how to behave. We try. We trudge to school, do our homework. My childhood was by the book — controlled, restrained, ordinary. Inside this suburban trek a kid might sense an explosion is possible. A jailbreak.
In the grind of childhood subservience, a stealthy peek into Dick Tracy offered a moment’s relief. There was the compelling craftiness of Haf-and-Haf, the half-debonair, half-hideous Tulza Tuzon, who taught crows how to steal all that glittered and bring him the coin. There were crows in my backyard, too. Dare I?
SERIOCOMIC: Mimi Lipson on LITTLE LULU | Sara Ryan on AMPHIGOREY | Gary Panter on THE NUT BROS./THE SQUIRREL CAGE | Gordon Dahlquist on POGO | Robert Wringham on VIZ | Matthew De Abaitua on CAPTAIN BRITAIN | Jessamyn West on FUN HOME | Bradley Peterson on HELLBOY | Stephanie Burt on KITTY PRYDE RETURNS | Jenny Davidson on OOR WULLIE | Luc Sante on MARSUPILAMI | Susan Roe on BLOOM COUNTY | Marilyn Berlin Snell on CHARLES ADDAMS | Deb Chachra on ARKHAM ASYLUM | Judith Zissman on ERNIE POOK’S COMEEK | Alexandra Lange on BETTY (ARCHIE) | Catherine Newman on VERONICA (ARCHIE) | Josh Glenn on SPIRE CHRISTIAN COMICS | Adam McGovern on THE CREW | William Nericcio on ERRATA STIGMATA | Chelsey Johnson on DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR | Sherri Wasserman on TANK GIRL | Tom Nealon on MEGATON MAN | Erin M. Routson on THE WEDDING OF SCOTT SUMMERS & JEAN GREY | Douglas Wolk on FRANK IN THE RIVER | Annie Nocenti on DICK TRACY | James Parker on 2000 AD | Adrienne Crew on NUTS | Vanessa Berry on MEAT CAKE | John Holbo on WITZEND | Michael Campochiaro on SPIDER-WOMAN | Miranda Mellis on RED SONJA & BÊLIT | Michael Grasso on THE NEW MUTANTS | Ty Burr on BINKY BROWN | Bishakh Som on AMAR CHITRA KATHA | Mark Kingwell on CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED | Brian Berger on JIMBO | Kenya (Robinson) on AGENT 355 | Seth on THE ETERNALS ANNUAL | Susannah Breslin on SLASHER | Lisa Kahlden on JACK CHICK TRACTS | Mandy Keifetz on KRAZY KAT | Tom Devlin on DUM-DUM POSSE READER | Eric Reynolds on ACTION COMICS #460 | Rick Pinchera on EIGHTBALL #16 | Juan Recondo on DAYTRIPPER | Elizabeth Foy Larsen on ROZ CHAST | J.E. Anckorn on HALO JONES | Deborah Wassertzug on GREAT POP THINGS | Peggy Nelson on MAD MOVIE SATIRES | Holly Interlandi on ANGEL SANCTUARY | Karen Green on THE SMITHSONIAN COLLECTION OF NEWSPAPER COMICS.
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