Whenever a famous actor or actress, musician, artist, or comic book writer/artist passes away, there is always a high degree of fanfare that comes with their passing. For Dick Locher, this is no exception. The celebrated Dick Tracy artist and writer passed away on August 8, 2017. He was 88 years old and despite having been retired from cartooning since 2013, he has left behind a celebrated legacy.
Locher was a man who loved life and loved art. Starting out as an assistant to Rick Yager for the Buck Rogers comic strip, he quit soon after and joined the Air Force, becoming a test pilot while freelancing for the Stars and Stripes newspaper. It wouldn’t be until 1957 while attending Chicago’s Academy of Fine Arts when his career would truly take off. Dick became Chester Gould’s assistant on Dick Tracy as inker for the daily strip and colorist for the Sunday strips. Leaving the comic in 1961, he began work in advertising where he had a hand in creating some of the McDonald’s characters.
A decade later in 1973, he would return to cartooning an editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune, a position he attained with help from Gould (they maintained correspondence during the time). Despite having no background in editorial work, he took the position, drawing over 10,000 cartoons during the course of his career. During the 1980’s, Dick would win the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning thanks to a successful cartoon of Ronald Reagan falling out a phone both dressed in pseudo Superman costume.
In 1983, Locher would return to work on Dick Tracy after Ray Fletcher, Gould’s successor to the strip in 1977, passed away. Dick would continue to work on Dick Tracy, retiring from drawing the comic in 2009 and retiring from the writing in 2011, passing the reigns to the current team of Mike Curtis and Joe Staton.
Naperville, Illinois, the town Locher and his wife Mary moved to in 1969, has become closely associated with the Locher family and the Dick Tracy character over the years. In 1990, the Naperville police station put displays for both the comic and the Warren Beatty movie in its lobby. 2010 saw the creation and placing of a 9-foot tall statue of Tracy, for which Dick created a miniature model of.
Of Dick Locher’s life, there can be no word to sum it up better then amazing. From Air Force test pilot to successful career cartoonist, he was a man of much loved by his family and friends and the legions of Dick Tracy fans.
The world feels a bit darker now that this giant among comic strip men is gone from it. But where there is darkness, there is also the light he has left behind in the form of his years devoted to producing quality cartoons and comics. Rest in peace Mr. Locher, though you are gone from the world, the world will never forget you.
“I’ve been lucky, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve met good people, I’ve met fantastic people. I’ve met some real jerks in life, and you learn as much from them as you do your good friends. And I’ve been blessed; I’ve been lucky. I’ve worked with a legend who created an icon. And that was Chester Gould. He told me, ‘Everything, Dick, is black and white. Forget the gray crap.’ He was Mr. Law and Order” – Dick Locher.