As a kid, to me the Crimestoppers’ Textbook was one of the most durable icons of the Sunday Comics Page. It was reliably there as a part of Dick Tracy every Sunday and had been from the beginning of my own personal age of awareness. But that wasn’t always the case.
As I’ve mentioned numerous times (get used to it), for the past couple of years, I’ve been reading the comics from the New York Sunday News in the late forties that I picked up at the Akron Comicon a couple of years ago. Dick Tracy has fronted the entire run, and I was about three fourths of the way through 1949 this year when I saw the the Crimestoppers’ Textbook appear. It suddenly dawned on me that I had stumbled onto the source of the Nile as it were and that September 11. 1949 marked the beginning of sui generis symbol that would course through the American comics page from 1949 to the present day.
I wonder if Chester Gould realized at the time what he was getting himself into when he came up with this bit for the Tracy topper. As a cartoonist, I think about these things. There are two little holes indicated on the Crimestoppers’ Textbook so you could cut them out and put them in a binder. I’m sure some kids collected them, and, if they did, they had one of the tallest and smallest books of all time. And there’s probably some guy on eBay trying to sell his right now. Finally, I wonder if they ever actually stopped a crime. I’m going to go with “yeah, maybe.”