SEPTEMBER 2020

Oklahoma county to celebrate iconic comic detective Oct. 3 - Dick Tracy Day will include parade, crafters, live entertainment

By Corbin Crable

Get on your two-way watch radio – er, your Apple wrist watch -- and call your friends, because Pawnee County in Oklahoma is getting ready to celebrate the man who created one of the most famous detectives in pop culture history – Dick Tracy.

Pawnee, OK, is home to the world’s largest Dick Tracy mural. (photo courtesy of Findery.com)

Dick Tracy Day, slated for Oct. 3, is sponsored and hosted by the Pawnee County Historical Society.

Comic artist Chester Gould first penned the iconic character in 1931. Wearing his trademark mustard yellow trench coat and matching fedora, Tracy’s comic strip adventures of bringing a cavalcade of bad guys to justice were syndicated and closely followed by newspaper readers for decades. Tracy and his menagerie of monstrous-looking villains proved to be popular, but newspaper readers often criticized the violence in the comic strips. Gould was a staunch advocate of police and law enforcement, and he once said that he created the comic out of a desire to see justice served to those who deserved it most.

“He taught and preached without being too preachy,” one historical society member says. “There was a sense of goodness and fairness. (Gould) was just a good guy and that showed through his characters.”

Gould drew the strip until 1977, when other artists took over the task. Gould himself died in 1985.
In the decades during Dick Tracy’s comic strip run, the character also was featured in radio programs and movies, including a 1990 film featuring a star-studded cast, including Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Madonna.

The annual Dick Tracy birthday celebration takes place each October, on or near the publication date of the first Dick Tracy comic strip. Though Gould was born in Pawnee in 1900 (seven years before Oklahoma achieved statehood), he moved to Chicago in 1919, shortly after graduating from high school. He created the Dick Tracy character in Woodstock, IL, where he lived for the remainder of his life.

The family-friendly Dick Tracy Day events will include a police parade, kids in superhero costumes, a mayoral proclamation, student art displays, craft vendors, a flea market, and birthday cake, of course. Dick Tracy-related items and souvenirs will be available for sale as well. Attendees are encouraged to dress up as their favorite Dick Tracy character.

Those in attendance can cap off their day with a visit to the Pawnee County Historical Society Museum and Dick Tracy Headquarters, home of the largest collection of Dick Tracy memorabilia in the world, as well as the world’s largest Dick Tracy mural on the side of the building. The museum is located at 513 Sixth St. in Pawnee, and visitors from all over are welcome to visit, the historical society’s representative says.

“We’ve had people come in from Mexico who came here just to see Dick Tracy stuff,” she says. “It’s worldwide. We’ve had such interest, and it’s wonderful.”

Since the museum has had to close due to COVID, the historical society also is seeking donations in advance of the event as well. For more information, call 918-762-4681 or visit www.pawneechs.org.

 


Corbin Crable can be contacted at editor@discoverypub.com