"Lips" Manlis was a criminal figure who caused some trouble for Dick Tracy during the 1930s. He had a wide mouth and thick lips (hence his nickname). He had a large, imposing body and wavy dark hair that he typically wore swept back on top and short on the sides. He sometimes had a moustache.
Lips' Life of Crime and ReformEdit
Lips was a criminal and gambler who was implicated in the murder of Addie Gothorn. He was eventually cleared of the charge, but it was discovered that he was involved in Gothorn's conspiracy to blackmail Athnel Jones. When Manlis discovered that Tracy was investigating his activities, he attempted to kill Tracy in an elevator that was rigged to explode. Tracy detected the trap and used Manlis' valet Memphis Smith as a human shield to gain access to Manlis' hideout.
Tracy gave Lips a chance at redemption and helped rehabilitate him. Manlis was shocked by this show of kindness and took on a new name "Bob Honor". He reformed and took a job as a daytime watchman at a local warehouse.
Manlis' former gang, including his ex-girlfriend Mimi, refused to believe that Manlis had given up his life of crime. The believed that Manlis was working some kind of confidence scheme against Tracy and the warehouse owner, and attempted to frame him for a robbery when they learned the truth.
Much of the gang was captured, but Mimi fled. She hid on the boat of her associate Toyee, which Lips later helped to infiltrate. Toyee was captured and Mimi committed suicide, and Lips, as "Bob Honor" successfully reformed, and attempted to reconcile with his ex-wife Kitty.
Some time later, a newspaper article about Breathless Mahoney indicated that she had been involved with Lips during his time as an underworld figure. The exact nature of their relationship was not specified (and seems to have been inspired by their relationship in the 1990 feature film, see below).
Appearances in Other MediaEdit
In the 1990 feature film Dick Tracy, Lips was played by Paul Sorvino. He was depicted as overweight and having uncommonly large lips, putting his appearance more in line with the other Grotesque characters.
In the film, Lips Manlis was a powerful crime boss who operated out of the Club Ritz. His girlfriend was the attractive nightclub singer Breathless Mahoney.At the beginning of the film, Big Boy took control of Lips' territory. He arranged to have 5 of Lips' men (The Brow, Rhodent, Shoulders, Little Face, and Stooge Viller) killed at the Seventh Street Garage by Flattop and Itchy.
Shortly thereafter, Big Boy had Lips escorted from his nightclub by several of Big Boy's henchmen who were posing as police officers. Lips was taken to the South Side Warehouse and forced to sign over the club to Big Boy, who then proceeded to entomb Lips in a cement-filled crate ("The Bath") and dump him into the river below.
The murder of Lips Manlis became the central point of Dick Tracy's investigation of Big Boy, and Tracy tried to convince Breathless (who was a witness) to testify to Lips' murder.
In Max Allan Collins' novelization (which is not co-canonical with the graphic novels), Lips Manlis rose to prominence on the city's West Side, using Prohibition to make his fortune. He established a friendship with Little Face early on, employing him as a subordinate. In the novel, Lips hired Little Face, The Brow, Rhodent, Shoulders, and Stooge as operatives from out of town to help him deal with the local mob wars.
Their execution at Flattop's hands (resulting Little Face giving him their location) ruined these plans. The relationship between Lips and Big Boy is expanded on. In the novel, Big Boy tells Lips he'll be allowed to leave the town with his life if he gives Big Boy the deed to Club Ritz, only to renege on the deal after Lips gives his signature.
Tie-In Comic Book Edit
Lips played a prominent role as secondary antagonist in the comic book prequel by John Moore and Kyle Baker. Lips was the owner of the Club Ritz and the most powerful crime boss in the city. He was the employer of Big Boy, Flattop, Mumbles, and Itchy. He treated Big Boy and his other subordinates poorly, dismissing their plans to assassinate his rivals and eventually driving Big Boy to strike out on his own. Lips was romantically involved with Mina, whom he employed as the singer at the Club Ritz despite her relative lack of talent. When 88 Keyes presented Lips with Breathless Mahoney, Lips abandoned Mina.
When informed by Texie Garcia that Big Boy was planning to overthrow him, Lips had The Brow unsuccessfully try to kill Big Boy with a bomb, which set Big Boy's vendetta in motion.
Tie-In Video Games Edit
- Nintendo Entertainment System- Lips is a minion of Big Boy and is based in a barbershop. He is described as a "casino kingpin". Photos of Lips setting fire to a night club must be found before he can be arrested.
- Sega Genesis- Lips is the boss at the end of the third stage and is fought at Club Ritz. Lips starts the fight using a revolver before eventually switching to throwing Molotov cocktails once he reaches the club's bar.
- When Lips was first referred to in the strip, his name was spelt "Manlus". This changed quickly and "Manlis" became the consistent spelling thereafter.
- Lips and Mimi were married by a Justice of the Peace while Lips was sedated by his former gang members. His consent to the marriage was faked, as was his signature on the marriage certificate. As such, the marriage was fraudulent and Mimi would not count as one of his known relatives.
- Although Lips had a distinctive wide mouth, he predated the strip's more grotesque villains by several years. Chester Gould originally based his appearance on real-life gangster John Dillinger.
- In the movie's comic book adaption and prequel story, Lips' rivals were Lorenzo Prunesti (Pruneface), Ribs Mocco, and B-B Eyes.
- Paul Sorvino was one of several actors in the 1990 Dick Tracy film who had also appeared in one of the many Star Trek series.
- In 1991, Paul Sorvino played a mobster in the film The Rocketeer. Like Dick Tracy, that film was a period adventure inspired by character from a work of sequential art.
- The Lips Manlis action figure produced by Playmates Toys for the 1990 feature film was uncommon in that it did not include any kind of melee weapon (as most of the other villain figures did). Instead, Lips came packaged with a pair of "cement shoes" which could be attached to his (or another figure's) feet. A similar instance occurred with the Mumbles figure, which included a leg iron with ball and chain.
- In the movie, Breathless indicated she knew Lips before he became obese. However, in the prequel comics Lips was already overweight when Breathless met him.