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The man known as "Mumps" Barker was a confidence trickster who operated a small criminal organization in Dick Tracy's city. Mumps had a short but wide-set body and wavy white hair that he wore swept back. He typically wore a checkered coat.

The Golden Hearts Scheme[]

Mumps' scheme revolved around the creation of a fraudulent charity called The Golden Hearts Organization, which purported to raise funds in order to operate a camp for underprivileged youth. In some cases, donors to the group (or the group's operatives) discovered Mumps' deception. Mumps would then pay them off with a check for a sizable amount. Mumps then arranged for another one of his operatives to kill these people in a hit-and-run killing before the checks could be cashed.

One of these killings was witnessed by Dick Tracy and Pat Patton, as the victim had attempted to get Tracy's attention before being run down. Tracy soon discovered the common thread among several recent hit-and-run killings (each victim had a check from the Golden Hearts on their person), which prompted him to investigate Mumps' organization.

Tracy called on Mumps at the Golden Hearts office with a photo of the most recent victim. Mumps denied knowing the man and Tracy departed. Unbeknownst to Mumps, Tracy now had his fingerprints on the photograph, which Tracy used to investigate Mumps' past. Tracy discovered that Mumps had served time in prison for swindling.

Shortly after Tracy left Mumps' office, Mumps was visited by Mr. Thistle, another donor to the organization. Thistle had discovered Mumps' fraud and demanded his money back. Mumps killed Thistle with a secret gun that he kept hidden under his desk. This was witnessed by Pigeon Pete, an old associate of Mumps who worked as a janitor for the office.

Pigeon Pete's Betrayal[]

Tracy arrived shortly afterward and saw Thistle's body. Mumps claimed that he had killed Thistle in self-defense, but Pigeon Pete had a pang of conscience and told Tracy what he had seen. Mumps was arrested and Pete was placed in protective custody.

Mumps was freed by his attorney, a man named Beagle, who discovered an error in the arrest warrant. Mumps fled the city before he could be arrested on other charges.

Mumps2

Tracy developed a plan to lure Mumps back into the city. He placed a notice in the local newspaper stating that Pigeon Pete was being released from protective custody and would be taking up residence in a local hotel. Mumps saw the notice and returned to the city intending to kill Pigeon Pete.

When Mumps arrived at Pete's hotel, he was confronted by Tracy and Pat, who had been hiding in the next room. A brief shootout ensued, but Mumps was able to escape. Pursued by Tracy, Mumps hid in the nearby warehouse of a perfume manufacturer. Tracy was able to track Mumps to this location, where more shots were fired. Mumps was doused by a bottle of ether and his clothes caught on fire. The fire spread and ignited some of the other volatile chemicals in the warehouse. An explosion occurred, and Mumps was briefly assumed to have been killed.

Mumps on the Run[]

Mumps had managed to escape with few ill-effects by hiding in a large vat of water during the explosion and the subsequent fire. He slipped away through the crowd of on-lookers and fled in a taxi cab.

Mumps' exposure to the perfume chemicals left him covered in a strong smell, much of which lingered in the taxi cab. Tracy and Patton happened to encounter the cab as the driver was attempting to remove the odor. The cab driver recognized the police officers' description of Mumps, and he agreed to take them to where he had dropped off the criminal.

With the help of the cab driver, Tracy and Patton tracked Mumps into the hills outside of the city. Mumps trapped the men in a sealed tunnel that he had constructed. Tracy and Patton discovered an escape route and left the cab driver in the tunnel, where they believed he would be out of danger. The escape route led to a meat freezer where Mumps kept his gang's food supply. Mumps and his gang met Tracy and Patton and held them at gunpoint. They removed the police officers' guns and coats and left them hanging on meat hooks, believing that they would soon freeze to death. Tracy and Patton were able to escape by swinging themselves off the hooks. They were freed by the cab driver and resumed their pursuit of Mumps.

MumpsDeath

They soon found Mumps and his gang in their nearby mountain hideout. Mumps abandoned his gang and fled into the nearby rocky slope. Tracy and Pat pursued. Mumps attempted to deter the officers by rolling large, heavy rocks down on them. This caused a rockslide, and Mumps was crushed to death.

Notes[]

  • Mumps is the common name of a viral disease. One of the most recognizable symptoms is a swelling of the salivary glands. The character Mumps does not seem to demonstrate any signs of this illness. The source of the character's alias is unknown.
  • When Tracy researched Mumps' background, he identified the man by the last name "Barker", which would indicate that this was Mumps' actual surname.
  • Mumps appeared in Dell Comics' Dick Tracy Monthly #19 (cover date July, 1949). This was the first issue to feature an original full-length story produced for specifically for the comics. The writer and artist(s) were not credited.
  • The Mumps story effectively reproduces the common elements of a Dick Tracy storyline from the newspaper strip, with converging plots, chases and escapes, death-traps, etc.
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