For this week's Sleuthback Saturday feature, I dredge up the November installments of a comic strip I drew for the UW-Parkside Ranger back in 1983-84. "The Funny Paper Caper" told the story of the murder investigation of one Rufus T. Pornapple, who was also the victim of an unreported burglary, and romantically linked with more than one comic strip female. As we rejoin the story, the investigation turns to a little lady whose name was McGill, and who called herself Lil, but everyone knew her by another name.
One characteristic of "Nancy" in those days was that cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller avoided use of any and all punctuation, save for the occasional dash or unavoidable question mark. It may have been part of Bushmiller's minimalist approach to cartooning overall. He put nothing in the cartoon that wasn't essential to the gag du jour. I like Wally Wood's observation about the strip that "By the time you decided not to read it, you already had."
This tenth installment, however, requires considerably more commitment.
There's an inside joke in the first panel of strip #11. John Kovalic was a cartoonist colleague at the Ranger that year, drawing a comic strip which appeared just below mine every week. Carson the Muskrat in his current "Dork Tower" is a survivor of his earlier "Wild Life."
Dave Brousseau reminded me that Dick Locher continued to script Dick Tracy's story line for two years after he stopped drawing the strip in 2009, which I did not explain on Tuesday. He also noted that there was talk on some message boards that perhaps Locher was still drawing some of the strip after 2009. I can't venture an opinion on that; there are signs of Parkinson's impairing his ability to draw in his late editorial cartoons, but comic strips such as Dick Tracy employ support staff (such as Locher himself, early in his career) to polish up, ink, and letter what may only be rudimentary sketches from the person whose name is attached to the cartoon.
You can compare, for example, the rough look of Doonesbury when Garry Trudeau was a student at Yale to its slick production values once the cartoon became a marketing juggernaut a few years later.