Wednesday, March 04, 2009


News of Yore 1949: Dick and Dahl

Dick Tracy's Double Has Fun In Cincinnati

(E&P, 3/19/49)

Cincinnati, O.— Some Cincinnatians were amused and some were startled, but hardly any of them were indifferent to the sight of a man who bore a remarkable resemblance to Dick Tracy. This man had a hooked nose and wore a wide-brimmed green hat, a flaming red tie and a yellow coat. As he strolled about downtown Cincinnati streets, he carried a black bag labeled "$1,000,000."

It was all a part of the Cincinnati Times-Star's promotion of the "Dick Tracy Mystery Contest," a contest based on a 36-episode strip by Chester Gould. The object of the contest is to discover, by means of clues in the mystery strip, what happened to a missing black bag that contains a million dollars. The Dick Tracy stunt started out to be nothing more than a modified sandwichman advertisement for the contest, but it grew almost to the proportions of a one-week institution. The young college student hired for the job was immediately hailed by passersby with "Hello Dick!" and "Hiya Dick!" Policemen greeted him everytime he passed their corners. The owners of a shoe-shine emporium refused to accept his money when he patronized them. Secretaries and stenographers gawked from office windows when he passed.

Since he was obviously making such good copy, "Tracy" was photographed giving "advice" to the Cincinnati Chief of Police and a locally well-known private detective, and was shown directing traffic on a busy corner. The stories were kept light. One disclosed that the young man is a college senior, majoring in psychology. He gave his impressions on pedestrians' reactions as he saw them. The more orthodox phases of the promotion consisted of three full-page advertisements (one in black and one color), frontpage boxes, and several quarter-page ads. Spot announcements were also used on radio stations. A special broadside, calling carriers' attention to the contest, was distributed, urging them to capitalize on the promotion and the contest to obtain new subscriptions.

Picked His Successor
(E&P, 1/22/49)

The cartoons of Gluyas Williams, before he retired more than a year ago, pleased managing editors so well that reprint releases continue running in some papers. This despite the fact that Williams' replacement, Francis Dahl, is a sharp cartoonist, able to win an audience on his own.

Dahl's "ideas are funny and his drawing is funny and you can't ask for more than that in a cartoonist," said Williams about Dahl. Williams, a down-Maine man himself, admired Dahl's New England caricatures in the Boston Herald and Traveler. Bell Syndicate says most of the Williams reprints have about run out, and Dahl has proved as popular as his predecessor.

[Allan's note: Although Bell might have offered Dahl's cartoons to Gluyas Williams subscribers, I have yet to see any paper that took them up on that offer. As far as I know Francis Dahl's excellent work was never successfully syndicated.]


The Dick Tracy Bag contest also appeared in the St. Louis Star.
Alan, I am showing the first four episodes of the Dick Tracy contest in my blog. The ads reprinted ehe first, first two or first four episodes and a complete Sunday color reprint for the first six week.The announcement seems to have been in every small town paper in Michican and Oregon, advertising it for the Chcago Daily Mail. Maybe the Mail owned a string of small papers? It also seems to have been used in a similar way for a larger paper in other States. One of my blog readers spooted the fact that the strips don't seem to have been drawn by Gould. I had only seen that the lettering was off.
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