After three decades, Dick Locher is turning in his badge as storyteller and steward of the iconic comic strip "Dick Tracy."
"It's time to move on to other things," Locher, 81, tells Comic Riffs. "It's time to do normal things with my family, to travel, to paint in the American Southwest."
Locher -- who is also a Pulitzer-winning political cartoonist -- will turn over the comic to the team of artist Joe Staton and writer Mike Curtis, Tribune Media Services announced today.
Staton and Curtis -- who have worked on such titles as Scooby Doo, Richie Rich, the Green Lantern and Casper the Friendly Ghost -- will see their first "Dick Tracy" story arc appear in newspapers March 14.
"We're fortunate to have found a creative team that has a passion and a feel for this," TMS executive Jan Guszynski tells Comic Riffs. Staton and Curtis, she continues, have the talent to "carry on the combined legacy of Locher and Chester Gould."
As a Chicago Tribune cartoonist, Gould launched "Dick Tracy" in 1931. Locher came aboard as Gould's inking-and-coloring assistant for four years, starting in 1957, and returned as the artist for the yellow-trenchcoated detective when Gould's successor, Rick Fletcher, died in 1983.
That same year, Locher won the Pulitzer for editorial cartooning while at the Chicago Tribune -- a perch for which he was personally recommended a decade earlier by Gould.
Locher will continue to draw political cartoons for Tribune Media Services. "It's too much fun to stop doing it," he tells Comic Riffs.
Most recently, Locher has worked on "Dick Tracy" with assistant/artist Jim Brozman.
"For a long and wondrous 32 years I've been in the right-hand seat of Tracy's squad car," Locher said in a statement. "I can only hope that in this time I've entertained my readers and lived up to the lofty expectations of Chester Gould's glow. It's been an incredible ride, but this is where I step off."
Tribune Media Services last year announced the retirement of two other strips with similarly long lineages: the 70-year-old "Brenda Starr," which ended this month, and the 86-year-old "Little Orphan Annie," which saw its final tomorrow last June. So why does a fellow TMS senior-citizen like Dick Tracy survive?
The syndicate would not say how many clients the strip has, but Guszynski would tell Comic Riffs: "This decision to continue 'Dick Tracy' does involve the economics."
In other words: The square-jawed, gadget-happy detective still has the newspaper audience -- and the creative team at the ready -- to make him a continued fiscal force on the force.