My dad’s been gone more than thirteen years now, but when we get together, my siblings and I often fondly recall his many colorful sayings (some of them not proper for an all-ages website). One of his turns of phrase that I find myself using from time to time is the one he’d trot out when my sisters or brother or I started getting too big for our britches: “Smarty had a party, but nobody came.”
Working on LOAC projects makes me think of that line on occasion, because it reminds me that no matter how much even the most diligent comics historians knows, he doesn’t know it all. And acting like he does know it all is a good way to be set up for a fall. So we try to keep it properly humble here in LOAC-land, because occasionally things like this happen …
When we began running Chester Gould’s “Black Bag Mystery” strips, featuring Dick Tracy, during October of last year, we wrote, “The syndicate hoped to duplicate the [“Black Bag”] promotion in newspapers from other cities and so never published the solution to the mystery. It’s still an open case, folks!” That’s exactly what we thought based on the information we had at hand and, because despite the considerable resources we have available, no evidence to the contrary was available.
But Gould scholar extraordinaire Jeff Kersten can call on even more Tracy resources than we can as he digs deeper, ever deeper into the Master Detective’s history and mythos. And Jeff recently unearthed the fact that the Chicago Tribune did indeed select a winning solution to “The Black Bag Mystery,” with Gould bringing it to life in his own distinctive artistic style. Moreover, Jeff was able to drop the solution, as it appeared in the Trib, straight into our pulpy little palms!
We present the first three “solution” strips today and the final three tomorrow, with the hope you’ll join us in a vote of thanks to Jeff Kersten, not only for playing such a major role in bringing forth a fully-rounded history of America’s top crime newspaper strip, but also for reminding us not to gettoo sure of ourselves, because after all these years it’s still true: Smarty had a party, but nobody came!
Come back tomorrow for the final three!