Once known simply as "The Professor", Roloc Bard ("Drab Color" spelt backwards) was a genius scientist who was twice forced to put his scientific genius to evil use while being held captive.
Professor Bard was a small, slender man with light hair and sunken eyes.
As a young scientist living in "the old country", Bard developed a mind-altering gas that he believed could be used to aid people suffering from various nervous conditions. He shared his development with government, but they insisted that it be used for military applications. Bard, a peaceful man, took his discovery and fled to America.
Captive of Yogee Yamma[edit | edit source]
At some point, Bard encountered the confidence trickster Yogee Yamma. Yamma used Bard's gas to pose as a powerful hypnotist and control people's mind. Bard was kept in chains in Yamma's secret bunker headquarters where he continued to produce Yamma's supply of the gas.
Bard spent a significant amount of time in the underground laboratory with no exposure to sunlight or other human beings besides Yamma (and possibly Yamma's wife). Because of this, he became pale, emaciated and his hair grew long and unkempt. His personality also became more eccentric, and he would sometimes seem to become mentally unhinged.
Yamma was eventually investigated by Dick Tracy, who found Bard in the underground lab. The men were nearly killed after Yamma sealed them in the lab (which was slowly filling with water), but they escaped.
Bard's gas had a flaw in that it had to be refrigerated or it could become incendiary. This eventually led to Yamma's being burnt to death in his room. Tracy gave the Professor a job working in the Police Lab under the supervision of Dr. Ebutt Set. He was given a new set of clothes and a haircut. The Professor also had a set up in his apartment where he worked on his latest project.
Professor Bard aided Dick Tracy in the case of Black Pearl Erad by recognizing the language on a piece of shrapnel that had been included in a bomb that Black Pearl had planted. The language was from Bard's native country, and he directed Tracy to a local newspaper publisher that printed a paper in that language. Bard joined Tra
cy and Pat Patton when they went to confront Black Pearl, and Bard fled when Black Pearl pulled a gun on them. He reported back to Chief Brandon what he had seen, But Black Pearl quickly left her hideout with Tracy and Patton.
Developing Xylon[edit | edit source]
The Professor's guilty conscience about his forced work for Yogee Yamma motivated him to try to atone by creating an explosive (which he called "Xylon") for the wartime Allied Cause. Bard was introduced to Dick Tracy's friend FBI Agent Jim Trailer who agreed to help the Professor turn over his project to the US Government. Xylon was a compound of natural elements that presented no danger of radiation and could blow up a ten-block area (at that point the government was still working on the A-Bomb which was still theoretical, whereas Xylon was already in existence).
A Nazi Agent using the codename "Boche" had been aware of the Professor's discovery and hired con-man Shaky to steal it for him. Bard was regarded as a Crackpot by Tracy, but was also respectfully referred by him as a patriot. Roloc was visited by his landlady's daughter Frieda Smith, for whom he felt an unrequited love. He explained his invention to Frieda who was disappointed by his talking about wanting peace but creating a weapon of war. Heartbroken, he was left vulnerable to Shaky who dropped by after Frieda left, under the alias "Mr. Pappy" claiming to be a representative for Pacifists for Peace, convincing him the dangers of him turning over the formula to the government, suggesting that if both sides had the bomb neither could use it, so Bard wrote down the formula and gave it to "Mr. Pappy" only to learn the truth from Jim Trailer right after Shaky left. Shaky was arrested by Tracy and Pat Patton, who couldn't find the formula on him because he disposed of it by smoking it. He was let go and fled town in fear of Boche's reprisal for his failure.
The Professor was then put under federal protection until his demonstration to Government Scientists the following week. At that moment, Boche had moved on to hiring contract killer Flattop Jones Sr. to eliminate Jim Trailer and kidnap Professor Bard. Flattop was able to do both with ease and was getting ready to hand the professor over to Boche and kill Trailer, but both the captives convinced Flattop that he was aiding the Nazis, motivated Flattop to demand more money. Flattop attempted to auction his captives to either the United States or his original employer. Washington DC authorized Tracy to negotiate with Flattop, while also attempting to track down Flattop's hideout. Tracy was able to talk with Trailer which gave Trailer the opportunity to give a hidden clue to their whereabouts by mentioning "Pearly Gates" and the sound of church bells in the background. Flattop cut off the call before it could be traced, and he accepted Boche's final offer of 50 thousand dollars. Tracy and Pat figured out the clue and intercepted Flattop at his hideout near St. Peters church, and got the precise location by the sound of loud music from an apartment which Flattop was using to cover up the sound of his silencer. As Flattop was about to pull the trigger, Pat and Tracy broke in and started a firefight between both sides. In the confusion Flattop made off with the Professor in a car and switched cars again and hid him out on the replica of the Santa Maria (where he would die months later). Boche gave Flattop his money and Flattop gave Boche the location of the imprisoned Professor.
The Professor and his Nazi captor finally met face-to-face on the ship, where Boche revealed himself to be Pruneface and began putting the professor to work in his warehouse, the Professor had initially refused but was forced to when it was revealed Pruneface had also captured Frieda. Bard was instructed to also design a torpedo casing for the bombs, which Pruneface had strategically placed in key locations throughout the city, after which Pruneface bound and gagged Bard while he picked up his wife from the airport. Fortunately for Bard, a young Junior Tracy saw the Xylon torpedoes being loaded onto the trucks and the Professor being tied up by Pruneface. Junior broke in and freed the professor having him find Tracy on his bike while Junior sneaked aboard the truck where he found out one of the key locations was right across the street from the Police Station. Bard and Junior met up with Tracy where they told him about the bomb across the street. They then convinced two of Pruneface's accomplices - Stu and Lou Rotiart - to give them the information they wanted by tying them up and having them sit on the Xylon torpedo. The other bombs were taken to locations nearby the FBI building and City Hall. Bard instructed the bomb squad how to properly defuse the bombs (because of the intricate design Pruneface made him build).
After the bombs were defused, Tracy and Pat and Junior followed the Professor to the warehouse where Pruneface kept him prisoner. Tracy went in to intercept Pruneface just as he came back to find the Professor gone. Mrs. Pruneface knocked Tracy out and lit a mini Xylon bomb (classic design) with a five minute fuse, leaving the detective to die, not before revealing that the final bomb would be taken to an alternate location. Tracy managed to escape in his chair through a glass window and taken to safety by Patton and Trailer just in time for the professor to witness the horror of his creation. The Professor eventually discovered that an hour after the bomb was activated the natural components broke down and Xylon was rendered harmless but solved that by adding one final component, which in remorse of his creation almost falling into enemy hands never told anyone the secret and took that information to his grave.
Years Later[edit | edit source]
The final bomb was later revealed forty years later to have been hidden in the home of now-elderly spinster Frieda Smith whom the FBI suspected of espionage. Tracy and Wendy Wichel (whom he was telling the Xylon incident to) flew to Washington DC with Jim Trailer to where Freida was living (ten blocks from the nation's capital), where the bomb was stored in Smith's fruit cellar pending orders from Pruneface to set it off, which he never did. Smith was taken into federal custody and the Xylon Bomb was defused by the bomb squad. Pruneface called the empty Smith house that night after she was arrested, prompting him and Dr. Kryos Freezdrei to change their plans and go into hiding for six months so that Freezdrei could finish reproducing Bard's Xylon formula. Freezdrei disappeared in an explosion and Pruneface was apprehended by Israeli Mossad agents. A short time later, the relatives of the original espionage ring led by Pruneface (Quiver Trembly, Angeltop Jones and Prunella) teamed up and obtained some Xylon in order to ransom the government and destroy Diet Smith's Fusion Plant. Quiver and Prunella were apprehended and Angeltop committed suicide, thus finally ending the Professor's legacy.
Appearances in Other Media[edit | edit source]
1990 Movie Continuity[edit | edit source]
In the novel, Professor Bard had been brought to America by Yogee Yamma. Yamma had forced Bard to develop a mind-controlling gas which Yamma then used on his victims. It was implied that Tracy had ended Yamma's criminal activities and Bard was freed from Yamma's control. Tracy then gave Bard a job in the city's police lab, and Bard was later recruited by Diet Smith to work in his research and development lab.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Profesor Bard's native country was never specifically identified. It was only referred to as "the old country".
- The Family Album & Mug Shot Files feature included in The Complete Dick Tracy Vol. 22 identified Bard only as "The Professor". The previous volume had used this same title for Professor Emirc.
- Bard's gravestone gave his birth year as 1895, and the year of his death as 1965, making him 70 years old when he passed away.