This essay, which was published in Comic Art No. 9 (Fall 2007), is the second I wrote about the great cartoonist Chester Gould (the first one, entitled “Bud, Which Way to the Noble Hotel?” appeared in Nemo: the Classic Comics Library back in the mid-1980s). I’ve always maintained–because it’s the truth–that had it not been for my early discovery of, and infatuation with, Gould’s “Dick Tracy” comic strip, I never would have become a writer of fiction; that weird and compelling stuff of his just fired my imagination, made me want to make up stuff like it myself. His work is still inspiring to me and I still regularly reread the classic strips, now happily available in gorgeous hardcover editions published by the Library of American Comics. When I was preparing that article for Nemo 30 or so years ago, Chester Gould was still alive, and I spoke with him briefly, twice, on the telephone. It still makes me happy, remembering that I did. I’ve had quite a few heroes in my life, but none to compare with Chester Gould–and I actually got to talk to him!

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