Short Story Month: Very handy

Dick Tracy (Short Story Month #16)

Make no bones about it: in no way does Dick Tracy exist for traditional narrative purposes. As displayed here, it is obvious the strip is far more concerned with its artwork, which is some of the most sublime representations of the human form ever committed to ink.

In an homage to Salvadore Dali’s and René Magritte’s surreal subversions of anatomy, Dick Tracy posits that the human body does not function as a whole, but rather is constructed of disparate elements that constantly struggle against one other. Here, the hands of both Tracy and the mayor appear to be working independent of any logical skeletal framework. Examine the bizarre yet intentional lack of scale between Tracy’s head and arms, between his hands and the warped fabrication of the mayor’s torso. Are any of these hands even connected to a body? Do they roam free a la Clive Barker’s short story The Body Politic? Is Tracy simply watching them do their work?

The artist suggests that Tracy, while by all accounts a mighty warrior, is in fact a slave to his own body. As are we all. We may fight for justice, but in the end, our bodies will betray our trust.

So why bother?