Dick Tracy Jr. (aka Junior Tracy) was the adopted son of Dick Tracy. He had orange hair.
A resourceful and talented young man, Junior's life has been full of adventure, romance, loss, and triumph. Junior greatly admires Tracy and has tried to model himself after the detective, which included joining the police force to become a forensic artist in Tracy's department.
- 1 Early Life on the Street
- 2 Early Adventures
- 3 Revelations
- 4 Aiding Tracy
- 5 Junior Tracy: Crimestopper
- 6 The Kid Grows Up
- 7 The Moon Period
- 8 Loss, and Recovery
- 9 Family Life
- 10 The Return of Moon Maid?
- 11 Appearances in Other Media
- 12 Notes
Early Life on the Street
The Kid (as he was originally known) was a homeless youth with no name who lived with the itinerant Steve the Tramp, who was often abusive towards him. The Kid would steal for Steve, in exchange for which Steve provided some degree of protection and nourishment. Because of his lack of education, the Kid had poor grammar and diction.
The Kid first entered Dick Tracy's world when he stole a pocket watch from Pat Patton. Tracy dismissed it because it was a petty crime and did not pursue the matter. When they saw the Kid again, Steve the Tramp was throwing the Kid onto the railroad tracks. Tracy fought and defeated Steve, and he took the Kid into his own custody. Tracy and the Kid quickly became fond of each other, and the Kid decided to take the name Dick Tracy Jr.
Soon after being adopted by Tracy, Junior got a job as a delivery boy at a local "bakery", which was run by a dope smuggler named Dan Mucelli. Junior discovered that the bread he was delivering contained illegal narcotics and told Tracy. Mucelli found out about Junior's betrayal and kidnapped him. Tracy managed to rescue Junior but was shot and badly injured in the process. Circumstantial evidence suggested that Junior had shot Tracy.
Junior was placed in the boys detention center while Tracy was recovering. Junior ran away just as Tracy captured Mucelli and cleared the boy's name. Junior hid in a house that was the hideout of Larceny Lu and her gang. Junior ran when he was discovered by one of the gang members and was reunited with Tracy. Junior told Tracy about Lu leading to her arrest.
Later, Steve the Tramp kidnapped Junior in an attempt to collect a reward being offered by a wealthy (but blind) mining engineer who was seeking his long-lost son. It would later be revealed that Junior was the missing son of this blind Colorado miner, Hank Steele and his wife Mary. Hank identified Junior (whose real name was Jackie Steele) from a scar behind the boy's ear from a childhood accident.
Upon learning the identity of Junior's father, Tracy thought it would be best that Junior live with his natural father. By this time, Steve had escaped prison and was working with Stooge Viller. They planned to steal or extort Hank's fortune from him. Through a series of coincidences, Viller arrived at the same port in Halifax that Pat Patton was visiting with Hank and Junior. Viller shot and killed Hank during an attempt to abduct Junior (July 30th, 1933). Tracy became Junior's legal guardian again.
Junior proved valuable to Tracy's efforts and he participated in many investigations with the detective. Junior was often the victim of kidnapping and torture by various criminals.
After the death of Hank Steele, his ex-wife Mary Steele arrived in the city. Mary observed Junior from afar and determined that her son would be better off living with Dick Tracy, but she couldn't keep herself away. She watched Junior frequently, and left him the anonymous gift of a small dog, which Junior named Oscar. Eventually, Tracy confronted Mary after noticing that she was frequently following Junior. She revealed who she was and made Tracy promise not to reveal her identity to Junior. Junior eventually deduced that Mary was his mother and the two developed a close relationship.
Junior remained in Tracy's custody for a while, but he later took up residence with Mary. At some point, he returned to living with Dick Tracy.
In one case in 1933, Junior and Chief Brandon were almost killed by Old Mike the Smuggler who set off dynamite charges on his ship. Junior accidentally broke the wire connected to several of the charges, and Mike was the only one killed. During a case in 1937, Junior posed as a bellhop to help Tracy investigate a string of hotel murders and was nearly killed by the murderer Athnel Jones.
Junior befriended the young aspiring detective Brighton Spotts and the two boys ran away together to investigate the string of railway robberies being committed by Jojo Nidle. This eventually led to Tracy's involvement in the case as well.
Junior and Dick Tracy were both captured and nearly killed by the insane Doc Hump who was then killed by his own rabies-infected dog.
Junior also helped Tracy defeat the Danny Supeena gang. As a result, he was kidnapped and nearly murdered by the last two remaining gang members - Neely and Dirks - but was rescued by the revenge-obsessed killer The Blank.
During the case of Whip Chute, Junior disguised himself as a disabled orphan girl called "Bump" in order to infiltrate the home of Chute's associate Lily. Lily was holding two Bovanian princes captive while Chute and his partner impersonated them. Junior was able to free the princes, but he was captured by the criminals while trying to escape. Junior was seriously injured during the course of the criminals being caught by police, but he recovered quickly. The princes showed their appreciation to Junior, who accepted it graciously.
Junior became the unwitting accomplice of Deafy Sweetfellow, who ran a bicycle theft ring. Deafy allowed Junior to operate a bicycle parking lot on a piece of property that Deafy owned near Junior's school. Deafy then arranged for a number of the bicycles to be damaged, thus creating a market for his stolen bicycles. Junior discovered the plot and exposed Deafy, but was seriously injured in the process. He recovered, but spent several weeks in a hospital in traction.
In the early 1940s, Steve the Tramp was paroled. Steve had reformed and became a good friend to Junior and Tracy. Junior helped Steve with his new business venture, a fruit stand.
Junior was involved in Tracy's apprehension of Tiger Lilly, going undercover as a caddy at Lilly's golf club. It was during this adventure that Junior met Frizzletop and Dennis O’Copper. At the conclusion of this case, Junior was involved in the events that led to the investigation of Pruneface.
Junior Tracy: Crimestopper
Junior founded the Crimestoppers Club, which consisted of himself and his friends who aided the police and their community. Their slogan was "Work and Win". The Crimestoppers Club earned Junior the wrath of Coffyhead, who kidnapped and tortured the boy before being arrested.
When Blowtop Jones sought revenge on Dick Tracy for the death of his brother, he kidnapped Junior and nearly killed him, but Junior's budding art skills helped lead to Blowtop's capture when he sketched out a picture of his kidnapper.
Junior saved the life of both Tess and his newborn sister when he drove Tess to the hospital after she gave birth in the back seat of a car.
The Kid Grows Up
Junior grew into a teenager, and he rejected many of the popular youth-culture fads of the time, preferring to maintain a clean-cut appearance. Junior met and fell in love with a young woman named Model Jones. Model came from a troubled family (alcoholic parents, delinquent brother) and was accidentally killed by her criminal brother. This was a traumatic experience for Junior.
Later, Junior joined the police department. His formal training and time as a rookie officer was not depicted in the strip, and his skill as an illustrator caused him to be assigned to work as the Department's forensic artist. During this period, Junior also took night classes at a local college, working towards a degree.
Around this time, Junior became the target of a revenge plot by the criminal known as Uncle Punky and his niece Thistle Dew. Punky's brother (Thistle's father) had been a thief and killer who was convicted and executed, partially due to evidence obtained with the aid of a sketch of the suspect that Junior had prepared. Punky blamed Junior for his brother's death, and he recruited Thistle to use her feminine charms to lure Junior into a trap. Junior escaped and Thistle Dew was arrested. Uncle Punky was later killed.
The Moon Period
In 1964, Junior met a young woman who crashed to Earth from the Moon - Moon Maid, the daughter of the Moon Governor. Junior was briefly tricked by Moon Maid's plot to betray him, but they soon realized that their affection was genuine, solidifying relations between Earth and the Moon.
When Moon Maid revealed that she was expecting a child, her father forced her to return to the Moon. He allowed Junior to join her on the condition that Junior would stay and never return to Earth. Junior, determined to be with his wife, accepted these conditions and took a position as head of the Moon's new radio and television broadcast center. Later, Moon Maid would give birth to their daughter Honeymoon. Shortly thereafter, the Moon Governor allowed his daughter and her family to return to Earth.
For several years, Junior lived with this as his status quo, as a husband, father, and valued member of Tracy's team on the police force.
After an unknown assailant shot Vitamin Flintheart at a TV studio, Junior attacked the shooter and suffered a concussion. Junior expressed shock at who it was who gave him the hard blow, and later produced a sketch of the assailant which revealed an appearance very similar to Tracy's long-dead enemy The Brow. This mysterious person turned out to be The Brow's Son, accomplice to Angeltop Jones.
Loss, and Recovery
After Big Boy issued a million dollar Open Contract on Tracy, Moon Maid was killed by a car bomb meant for Tracy. It had been planted by bomb expert Little Littel. Diet Smith, Tracy and his family (excluding Bonnie), Pat, Sam, the Plentys and Lizz were all in attendance the private funeral ceremony for Moon Maid. A grieving Junior vowed to find his wife's murderer.
After Junior and Officer Rodriquez (who had been guarding the Tracy home when the bomb was planted and felt responsible for Moon Maid's death) soon found evidence to the identity of the killer. Junior took his pistol from his desk and hunted down Littel and his wife at their electronics shop. Junior was nearly crazed with grief and was about to kill the couple, but he could not bring himself to take their lives. Lily Littel threw a bomb at Junior's head, knocking him out and setting off the timer. As they were about to leave, Tracy, Sam and Lizz raided the store intending to arrest the Littels. Junior woke up and was comforted by his comrades. Littel remembered that the bomb was about to go off and told everyone to leave while he tried to defuse it. Littel was killed in the explosion and Lily swore revenge against Junior and Lizz, who had shot Littel in the arm. Junior hoped that the cycle of violence and revenge would not continue.
Tracy told Junior that he was going to send Tess to California to stay with Vitamin Flintheart until the Big Boy case was resolved. He suggested that Junior and Honeymoon should go with her, but Junior preferred to stay and help with the case, though he did send his daughter with Tess.
Junior was able to construct a sketch of The Apparatus' killer Johnny Snow and he produced an enlarged photocopy, altered with the killer's disguise that had been described to him. This aided an eyewitness in identifying him and led to Snow's capture.
Following the death of Moon Maid, Junior was hesitant to form a new romantic attachment, thinking that he was bad luck for women. Still, he soon became involved with Sparkle Plenty, who had been enjoying a resurgence in her career as a performer. This briefly earned Junior the animosity of Ownley Chylde, a wealthy fan of Sparkle's who became obsessed with her. When Chylde learned of Sparkle's engagement to Junior, he made several unsuccessful attempts on Junior's life. Chylde was soon apprehended and Sparkle and Junior's wedding plans proceeded.
The wedding was well-attended by family, friends, and some of Dick Tracy's former enemies. The ceremony (officiated by Uncle Ray Tracy) concluded without incident, but the reception was interrupted by the arrival of Lizz, who informed the party that a bomb had been planted in the church basement by a revenge-crazed Angeltop. The party was evacuated with no casualties and Angeltop was arrested.
Junior and Sparkle moved into a home on Maplewood Drive in the suburbs. When the Wheeler family moved into a home on the same street, Junior encouraged Honeymoon to make friends with the Wheeler boys (Keenan and Seth), and the kids formed a new version of Junior's Crimestoppers Club.
When B.O. Plenty came into some money through the lottery, Junior helped B.O. design what he was going to invest his money in: The Land O' Plenty Theme Park, inspired by the life of Dick Tracy.
Junior occasionally expressed disappointment that his role as sketch artist prevented him from engaging in more active police/detective work. He was able to become closely involved in Dick Tracy's first encounter with the criminal No Face, eventually helping to free several hostages.
In the early 1990's, Junior had re-connected with Steve the Tramp, who had been encouraged to contact Junior by the pastor of the soup kitchen at which Steve was volunteering. The pastor explained that Steve had been showing signs of deep guilt and regret over all the crimes he had committed and how he had abused Junior. Junior tried to show Steve that that he had forgiven him, though Steve found it hard to believe. Steve was asked by Junior to help in a missing persons case involving the city's homeless population, and Steve enthusiastically agreed.
Junior, Sparkle and their daughters were living a happy domestic life, though Junior's involvement as a policeman occasionally attracted unwanted attention from villains.
After a DVD bootlegging ring was discovered by Honeymoon, Junior went undercover to expose it. Using a wig and his birth name "Jackie Steele", Junior was surprised to discover that B-B Eyes was still alive and operating the bootleg DVD business. Emulating her father, Honeymoon sneaked into B-B Eyes' truck and tracked the bootleggers to their hideout with the help of her Wrist Wizard. B-B Eyes was about to kill Honeymoon when Tracy arrived and rescued her. Junior was relieved that she was unharmed but reminded her that she is still a child and he doesn't want her involved in dangerous situations.
On Halloween of 2011, Sparkle's ex-husband Vera was found to be working at the haunted house of Abner Kadaver, where Honeymoon accidentally discovered a dead body posed as a fake skeleton. Junior was also upset when a drunken Vera caused a scene outside his house while confronting Sparkle.
The Return of Moon Maid?
In 2012, Junior look a day of leave to mourn for his deceased wife Moon Maid. Around this time, sightings of a mysterious crime fighter who was believed to be a disguised Moon Maid were seen on the news and internet. Junior was certain that this person wasn't Mysta, as he had seen the explosion that had killed her first-hand. He was also concerned about Honeymoon finding out about the sightings. When Tracy arranged for Honeymoon to visit the Moon in Diet Smith's Space Coupe, Junior declined to join them, believing that the experience would be too emotionally painful.
Sparkle was later confronted by the new "Moon Maid", who zapped her with a finger ray. This caused Sparkle to lose her memory, and she subsequently went missing. This was a difficult time for Junior and his daughters, and he was pleased to discover Sparkle alive and well at the Wheaten family farm. Being reunited with her family restored Sparkle's memory.
It was later revealed that the "new Moon Maid" was actually a former foe of Tracy's named Glenna Ermine, who had been physically altered and mentally conditioned to believe that she was original Moon Maid. She stated her intention to make her own way in the world, presumably maintaining a cordial (if complicated) relationship with Junior and his family.
Shortly thereafter, Junior and Sparkle announced that they were expecting another child. Sparkle went into labor during the case of Gruesome, and Junior was present in the delivery room. The child was a boy, which Junior and Sparkle named Dick Tracy III (though Junior indicated that they would probably call him "Trey").
Appearances in Other Media
Junior was a character in 2 Dick Tracy serials produced by Republic Pictures during the 1930s. Junior was played by actor Lee Van Atta in Dick Tracy (1937) and by actor Jerry Tucker in Dick Tracy Returns (1938).
1940s Feature Films
Junior appeared as a character in several of the 1940s Dick Tracy feature films. He was played by actor Mickey Kuhn in Dick Tracy (aka Dick Tracy: Detective) in 1945, and actor Jimmy Crane in Dick Tracy vs Cueball in 1946. Junior was shown to be Tracy's ward, living in Tracy's home and addressing him as "Dick".
1950s Live-Action Series
Junior appeared in six episodes of the 1950s live-action Dick Tracy TV series starring Ralph Byrd. He was played by Martin Dean.
1967 TV Pilot
Junior appeared in the pilot for the otherwise unproduced live-action Dick Tracy TV series in 1967. He was played by Jay Blood.
Archie's TV Funnies
Junior was a character in the "Dick Tracy" segments of the 1971 animated television series Archie's TV Funnies, produced by Filmation Associates. Junior's appearance closely resembled his depiction in the comic strip. He was portrayed as an adult member of the Police Department plainclothes squad, who was well-meaning but often bungling. Junior was shown to be married to Moon Maid, who sometimes helped with cases.
In the 1990 film Dick Tracy, The Kid was portrayed by actor Charlie Korsmo. His origin story was essentially the same as in the comic strip, with The Kid engaging in petty thefts at the behest of Steve the Tramp, though the storyline with Hank and Mary Steele was not addressed. He was a witness to the massacre at the Seventh Street Garage, but escaped without being caught.
Dick Tracy witnessed the Kid stealing from a man on the street and chased the Kid to his railyard hovel. There, Tracy beat up Steve the Tramp and the Kid was placed in Tracy's custody. The Kid was resistant Tracy and Tess' efforts to civilize him, but he appreciated regular meals.
The Kid saved Dick Tracy from a death-trap set by Big Boy, Flattop, and Itchy and was made an honorary detective. The Kid eventually revealed to Tracy that he had chosen the name "Dick Tracy Jr." while Tracy was in jail after being framed for murder.
The Kid briefly appears in the comic book prequel to the film, and is also a character in the 2 follow-up novels written by Max Allan Collins. In Dick Tracy Goes to War, Junior had formed his Crimestoppers Club, and was also working for the war effort, organizing scrap drives and other citizens' actions. His mother, Mary Steele, owned the Coffee Pot diner where she often babysat Junior, though she kept her true identity a secret from him. She would often follow Junior and observe his activities, wanting to be close to the boy.
When Junior realized that Tess had gone into the Stage-Door Canteen and not come out, he became suspicious and waited for her. When she finally emerged, Junior approached her, not realizing that it was actually Black Pearl disguise. After being rebuked by "Tess", Junior was abducted by Mrs. Pruneface and her agents. He was held hostage until Mary, who had witnessed his capture, freed him. The two were discovered in the act of escaping, and Mary held off their attackers while Junior escaped. Mary died in the process, and she asked Tracy not to tell Junior who she was.
In Dick Tracy Meets His Match, Junior was explicitly stated to be 13 years old. He was present at the wedding of Dick and Tess, which gets disrupted by a sniper. He later became involved in the investigation of the murder of Ted Tellum, and found himself attracted to the teenager Buffy Etoved despite their age difference. Junior later saved Buffy's life and helped to keep her safe until the killer could be apprehended.
Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive
Junior was a character in the comic book miniseries Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive published by IDW. Junior was one of Brilliant Smith's operatives who surreptitiously gathered allies and conveyed information to aid Dick Tracy. He was referred to as "Junior", and it was not made clear what his real name was.
Dick Tracy: Forever
Junior appeared in issue #3 of IDW's comic book miniseries Dick Tracy: Forever. In it, the adult Junior was suffering from a serious but unspecified medical ailment. Dick and Tess had to grapple with several ethical questions about what they would be willing to do to save Junior's life.
- Junior's age and date of birth varied. He was stated to be 9 years old during the case of Hank Steele and Steve the Tramp, which would have placed his birth in the mid-1920s. He was identified as being 10 years during the case of Jimmy White and the case of the Blank, which would have meant he was born in 1927. During the "death of Mary Steele" storyline, Mary claimed that Junior was eight years old the last she had seen him (shortly after the Blank storyline), but this could be attributed to Mary remembering incorrectly.
- It is unclear at exactly what point in their relationship Junior was adopted by Dick Tracy. During the "death of Mary Steele" storyline, Tracy states that he was given one of Junior's baby shoes by Mary on the day that he adopted Junior. It was generally assumed that Tracy had adopted Junior before Mary was introduced into the strip, though it is conceivable that Junior was only in Tracy's foster care until then. Mary Steele did refer to Tracy as Junior's "foster father" rather than his "adopted father."
- Junior did not seem to age in "real-time", so (for example) when Steve the Tramp was paroled after serving a 7-year sentence, Junior had clearly not aged 7 years.
- Junior's haircut (completely shaved on the side with wild vibrant red on top) has long been the subject of jokes in popular culture.
- The "kid sidekick" device was later adopted by the creators of both Batman and Captain America, and they have occasionally credited Dick Tracy with inspiring their creations.
- While Junior typically addresses Tracy as "Tracy", he has occasionally been shown referring to Tracy as "Dad" and Tess as "Mom" (but also as "Miss Tess" before she and Tracy were married).
- Junior inherited his biological father's estate, a considerable sum. However, he has not been shown to lead an especially extravagant lifestyle.
- Junior's status as a police officer has been established in the strip, though he was not shown attending the police academy and has not appeared in uniform. He has occasionally been shown decrying his role of sketch artist, and requesting to take a more active role in detective work.
- The character model of Junior was modified in the early nineties by artist Dick Locher to resemble his son John, who had died at the age of 25 in 1986. Subsequent artists have reverted to a more traditional model for Junior.
- Charlie Korsmo and Dustin Hoffman (who played Mumbles in the 1990 feature film) reunited a year later with Robin Williams in the movie Hook.
- The Kid was one of the more prominent characters in the 1990 feature film not to be made into an action figure by Playmates Toys.
- Junior was featured on the cover of IDW's The Complete Dick Tracy Volume 2.