Two icons of the newspaper strip comic are coming together for the first time in January.
Appearing at New York Comic Con last weekend, Dick Tracy artist Joe Staton confirmed for ComicBook.com that this winter, the hard-boiled detective with a colorful rogues gallery and a yellow fedora will team up with The Spirit, Will Eisner's beloved noir hero who straddles the line between a traditional pulp detective and a superhero.
Reports started to circulate about a month ago, when Staton told some fans at Baltimore Comic Con, but the artist told us that this weekend was the first time that he had official key art and was "making the announcement," so to speak.
"Will Eisner set the mold for adventure strips and detectives," Staton said. "With the Tracy strip, Mike Curtis (the writer) has been doing crossovers for lots of different characters and kind of developing a comics multiverse. Dick Tracy saved Little Orphan Annie from the pirates; we've had characters from Terry and the Pirates showing up and characters from Brenda Starr. Usually these are really short crossovers, but this time he wanted to do something really big and in-continuity with both Dick Tracy and The Spirit."
Don't expect the kind of crazy, page-breaking experimentation that Will Eisner was able to negotiate with his editors at the time -- but that doesn't mean Staton won't be going as crazy as he can.
"We can't do that much with the layouts. We're restricted to a certain number of panels and the way we can stack them up in different formats," Staton admitted. "But we can do different things with the layouts in those panels and a lto fo the atmospherics that Will did. It's definitely going to be raining a lot in Tracy's town, and we're going to do things with shadow and we're going to get as much of Will's stuff in there as we can."
Staton didn't go into details about what exactly brings the pair together or how long the story will run. Given the visibility of such a crossover, don't be too surprised to see somebody like IDW Publishing or Kitchen Sink Press trying to pick it up as a collected edition of some kind down the line, though.
Both Dick Tracy and The Spirit have been immortalized in Hollywood: Warren Beatty appeared as Dick Tracy in a film in 1990, while comics legend Frank Miller directed a movie based on The Spirit in 2008. While the former was a hit in theaters at the time, a rumored sequel continues to be stuck in development hell to this day. The latter received mostly negative reviews, especially from fans of the source material.
Staton is working with Charlton Neo -- a new publisher that will bring back some of the characters published by Charlton but not purchased by DC in the '80s -- on bringing back E-Man, a creator-owned series that he and writer Nicola Cuti have been working on together since 1973.