Dick Tracy: Chester Gould’s Blueprint Expressionism


March 2, 2011 - September 2, 2011


Reading Room Gallery
27 W. 17th Avenue Mall
Columbus Ohio

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Chester Gould’s celebrated comic strip, Dick Tracy. From 1931 to 1977, Gould (1900-1985) wrote and drew the popular continuity strip about a tough, intelligent, and incorruptible police detective who battles a parade of increasingly strange and grotesque villains.

The items in the exhibition were chosen by artist and author Art Spiegelman, a Wexner Center Residency Award recipient, with Jenny Robb, curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. According to Spiegelman, Dick Tracy “brought the front-page violence of the prohibition-era tabloids to the back of the newspaper. In today’s blood-soaked entertainment culture it’s hard to realize just how extravagantly brutal the original Dick Tracy must have seemed to its tens of millions of daily readers in the 1930s and 40s. It was The Sopranos of its day, but without the moral ambiguity.”

Spiegelman’s selections highlight Gould’s unique graphic style. He explains that “Gould coupled the precision of blueprints to the emotional intensity of the German Expressionist art taking place on the other side of the Atlantic… and he created a kind of Blueprint Expressionism.” Spiegelman will discuss Gould and his iconic creation within the greater context of comics’ history on Thursday, May 19 at 4:00 pm in the Wexner Film/Video Theater.

Dick Tracy: Chester Gould’s Blueprint Expressionism is on display from May 2 – August 19, 2011 and includes original comic strip art from the International Museum of Cartoon Art Collection and vintage newspaper pages and clippings from the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection. Examples of knock-offs, spoofs, and homages to Dick Tracy will also be featured including Al Capp’s character Fearless Fosdick, who appeared in L’il Abner.

About Art Spiegelman: Art Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his graphic novelMaus.  He also co-founded the avant-garde comics magazine RAW in 1980 and worked as staff artist and writer for the New Yorker from 1993-2003. Recently, McSweeney’s published a collection of his notebooks called Be A Nose and he co-edited A Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics, both released in 2009.  In the fall of 2011, Pantheon will publish Meta Maus, a companion to The Complete Maus. See http://www.barclayagency.com/spiegelman.html for more information.