Sparkle Plenty Tracy first appeared as the baby of two homely parents (B.O. Plenty and Gravel Gertie) who surprised the world with her beautiful appearance. Her picture made the cover of numerous magazines, including the new publication Glance.
Childhood and Early Life[edit | edit source]
At the age of two, Sparkle was already talking and doing chores at her home at Sunny Dell Acres. A soda company decided to take advantage of Sparkle's fame and named their product after her without permission. B.O. and Gertie resolved that problem and started selling the officially licensed product. Tess Tracy who was now the head of a professional photography studio convinced client Talcum Freely (a baby clothing designer) to have Sparkle be the child for the campaign. Freely had a hard time with Gertie and B.O., especially when he wanted to cut off her long flowing beautiful hair so that the dress would show. Freely of course didn't take this action but wanted nothing to do with the parents. Freely was found murdered in his mansion and B.O. fled fearing that he would be the prime suspect (the murder was actually committed by Sketch Paree, a rival clothing designer).
Gertie had been teaching Sparkle how to play the mandolin and how to sing, and B.O. entered her in a talent competition on TV. Sparkle was once again a major hit. After she met with success, Dick Tracy recommended that his old friend, actor Vitamin Flintheart become Sparkle's agent, a capacity in which he continued to function for some time. Sparkle became a target of the extortionist T.V. Wiggles, but was protected from harm by Flintheart, Tracy, and her family.
Young Sparkle's New Friends[edit | edit source]
When Tess Trueheart Tracy gave birth to her daughter Bonnie Braids, Sparkle gained a new friend and she eventually became big sister figure to Bonnie.
When the Tracys and the Plentys took a vacation to the lake in the North Woods, Tracy took Bonnie and Sparkle on a motorboat ride. Tracy was shot by the singer Tonsils, who was acting under orders from Mr. Crime, and fell over the side of the boat. Sparkle had to take control of the boat but had difficulty steering. The boat crashed into a rocky outcropping on the shore and was hidden from sight. The girls survived for several days on rations they found in the boat, with Sparkle giving most of her share to Bonnie. They were eventually found with the aid of Rifle Ruby and Sparkle was praised for her selflessness. Tracy recovered from the gunshot wound as well.
Sparkle would gain a new little sister in the abandoned daughter of criminal Odds Zonn. Susie was a classmate of Sparkle's, and she was taken in by the Plentys and renamed Little Wings (for her wing-like hairstyle). Sparkle noticed that Wingy glowed in the dark and thought that she was a real angel, but this was actually just a side effect of her exposure to radioactive materials.
When Sparkle's uncle Canhead Plenty was targeted by 3-D Magee and Pony in a blackmail scheme, Sparkle and Wingy were poisoned by Magee as an attempt to intimidate Canhead. The girls received medical treatment and recovered.
Sparkle and Wingy were transported away from Sunny Dell Acres during a heavy rainstorm that flooded the outskirts of the city. The two girls floated away inside their inflatable wading pool and were rescued by the blind woman Rainbow Reiley. They then happened upon the home of Rughead and discovered his cache of stolen furs, which eventually led Dick Tracy to investigate the criminal.
During her adolescence, Sparkle gained a significant amount of weight. During this time, she briefly took up the cello (which Gertie referred to as a "bull fiddle"). She later lost the weight and returned to her more slender appearance.
Young Adulthood[edit | edit source]
In 1968, Sparkle was named the winner of the Sunny Wheat breakfast cereal Moon Maid look-alike contest. She and her parents won a free trip to the Moon, and were featured in a promotional campaign for the cereal. She was friendly with and attempted to console the contest's second-pace finisher Mindy Ermine.
While she was a teenager, Sparkle and her step-cousin Vera Alldid fell in love and the two were married. Her father did not approve of the marriage and it caused a rift between them. Vera was able to win B.O.'s favor by providing him with expensive gifts, and Vera and Sparkle came to live at Sunny Dell Acres for a while, before eventually moving into their own home. The marriage did not produce any children.
As time passed, Vera grew self-absorbed and distant because of his success as a cartoonist. He began to crave money and other woman. Vera fled to Mexico to file for divorce, which devastated Sparkle. Lizz, who was now good friends with Sparkle, tried her best to console her. B.O. disapproved of divorce even more than he did the marriage, and he told Sparkle that was no longer welcome in his home, effectively disowning her. Lizz let Sparkle stay with her during this time.
While this was happening, Dick Tracy's old enemy Big Boy had put out a Million Dollar Open Contract on Tracy's life. Big Boy found that the professional assassin Johnny Snow (aka The Iceman) was willing to take on the contract despite the Apparatus's disapproval. Sparkle, who was still emotionally distraught about her divorce, accompanied Lizz and Groovy Grove to a disco where Sparkle met the Iceman (who was disguised and calling himself "Johnny Winter") and they developed a relationship.
Snow was using Sparkle to have an excuse to spy on Tracy's home. At the time, Sparkle was working as Dick Tracy's maid while Tess and Honey were in California under Vitamin's protection. Snow came calling on Sparkle one night while she was at Tracy's. He chloroformed her and tied her up in a closet. Sparkle managed to wake up and get out of the loosely-tied ropes. She turned on the light and saw Johnny and Tracy pointing guns at each other about to shoot it out. Sparkle tried to get Johnny to stop but he jumped out the window behind him. Tracy shot him, mortally wounding him. As Snow was rushed to the hospital, Sparkle insisted on riding in the ambulance with him. After giving up what he knew about the various murder plots, Johnny begged to see Sparkle. With his last dying breath, Johnny begged Sparkle to forgive him. Sparkle knew that he loved her for the fact that he could have shot her or used her as a hostage but didn't. After Johnny was buried, Sparkle asked B.O. if she could come home, B.O. swallowed his pride and tearfully welcomed his beloved daughter back.
Romance with Junior[edit | edit source]
Shortly after that, Sparkle became re-acquainted with her cousin, the actress B.U. Tiffil. Sparkle was nearly killed by B.U.'s agent, a man called Pushy Pointer. Sparkle was in a coma following the shooting and Junior Tracy (who had developed an attraction to her) was often at her side. Sparkle recovered and Pushy was arrested while in his own hospital bed, having been injured in a fight with Dick Tracy.
Sparkle's singing career enjoyed a resurgence and she started performing in public again. Her father was initially opposed to this, but changed his mind (as he had a tendency to do). Sparkle attracted the attention of a wealthy suitor and long-time fan of hers named Ownley Chylde, but she informed him that she had become engaged to marry Junior. Chylde made several attempts on Junior's life, believing that Sparkle would then be free for him to woo. Chylde was arrested after attempting to murder Junior at the Iowa State Fair where Sparkle was performing.
Later that year, Junior and Sparkle were married, with all their friends and family present, including Bonnie who flew in from Washington state and a grown-up Wingy. Also in attendance were three of Tracy's reformed enemies; Influence, the Mole and Pear-Shape. Angeltop Jones, daughter of Flattop, had planted a bomb in the church basement that was due to go off during the ceremony. Her boyfriend, the Brow's Son freed Lizz, whom Angeltop had kidnapped a few weeks prior, so that she could warn everyone. Lizz arrived just as Junior and Sparkle cut the wedding cake. The church was evacuated and the bomb was defused with Angeltop subsequently taken into custody.
Sparkle quickly adjusted to married life and treated Honeymoon as her own daughter. When the Wheeler family moved into a home on the same street, Sparkle was concerned about their oldest son having a criminal record. She also had misgivings about Honey and her new friends starting their own Crimestoppers Club, as Junior had done when he was Honey's age. However, Sparkle soon came to see that Honey's new friends and the Crimestoppers Club were positive things in her step-daughter's life.
Sparkle's Adult Life[edit | edit source]
Sparkle agreed to endorse (and put her name on) a line of designer blue jeans, with Vitamin Flintheart once again as her agent. Sparkle was dissatisfied with the nature of the commercial after the final cut, claiming that it made her look one dimensional. It was later discovered that there was a ring of counterfeiters (run by Murky Depps) who were selling imitation jeans, and Sparkle was instrumental in helping to close in on the organization.
In 1987, Sparkle was approached by Flipside to revive her music career. She agreed, and attended a recording session where she recorded new vocals for her classic songs, such as "Two Sons from Tucson". While there, she and the sound engineer A.R. Mann overheard Flipside plotting with the Stereo Brothers to kill the popular DJ Themesong. Sparkle and Mann recorded the conversation, and she quickly called her father-in-law to come and arrest Flipside. Sparkle and Mann attempted to stall Flipside, but Flipside discovered what they had done. Tracy arrived, and Flipside locked him and Sparkle in the recording studio with the Black Sound device, intending to kill them. Sparkle was affected by the device, but not fatally. She and Tracy escaped, and Flipside was killed while fleeing arrest.
In the late 80's Sparkle gave birth to a little girl who looked just like Sparkle did when she was a baby (Sparkle Plenty Tracy Jr., also known as "Jewel"). One Halloween when Sparkle Jr. was old enough to go trick-or-treating by herself, she was kidnapped but was later returned safely.
In 1999, Sparkle suggested to Tess that she attend the Rancho Hauncho health spa in order to lose weight. Sparkle accompanied Tess, and they soon found themselves solving a murder (after being briefly held as suspects by Detective Wilshire).
In 2011, Sparkle re-encountered her first husband and rebuffed him.
After Sparkle's younger brother Attitude was born, B.O. took his son on a trip to meet some distant relatives. Sparkle brought Jewel to stay with Gertie at Sunny Dell Acres while B.O. was away. While buying groceries, Sparkle met Measles Enog, who later came to Sunny Dell Acres seeking revenge on Gertie for his mother's death. Gertie hit Measles with an axe while Sparkle threw hot ash from the stove in his face. Measles later died after being tracked down by Tracy and the police, ending the threat.
Sparkle once again revived her music career, this time as part of a group called The Sounds of Plenty that also included her mother and her youngest daughter. Their repertoire included Sparkle's hit "Two Sons from Tucson".
The "Return" of Moon Maid[edit | edit source]
The appearance of the mysterious new "Moon Maid" caused some tension in Sparkle's marriage to Junior. Sparkle wondered what the consequence for their relationship would be if Junior's first wife was discovered to be alive.
Following a "Sounds of Plenty" rehearsal session, Sparkle went to meet with a mysterious "Mrs. Whig", who proved to be the new Moon Maid in disguise. Moon Maid zapped Sparkle into unconsciousness with one of her finger beams, and left a note warning her not to interfere with Moon Maid's marriage. Sparkle revived briefly and, disoriented, crawled into the bed of nearby pickup truck which she believed to be her father's.
Sparkle awoke on the farm of George and Nellie Wheaten, where she found herself suffering from partial memory loss. Unaware of her own identity, Sparkle experienced a flash of recognition when George mentioned the name of his late wife's mother, Gertie. Sparkle assumed this to be her own name, and George and Nellie continued to address her by it.
Later, Sparkle encountered "Moon Maid" hiding on the property, following Moon Maid's escape from her "handlers". George and Nellie took in Moon Maid as well, though she soon left farm to seek help for the Wheatens.
Some time after that, Junior and Honeymoon arrived at the farm to photograph the granary, and they encountered Sparkle, who did not recognize them. Junior contacted Tracy, who arranged for B.O., Gertie, and Jewel to be brought to the farm. Being reunited with her family restored Sparkle's memory.
It was later revealed that "Moon Maid" was actually Glenna Ermine, who had been genetically and mentally altered to believe that she was Moon Maid. Taking the name Mysta Chimera, she stated her intention to re-integrate herself into society. She will presumably not interfere further in Junior and Sparkle's marriage.
In November 2013, Junior and Sparkle revealed that they were expecting their second child. Sparkle went into labor on the night of Gruesome's destructive theatrical debut. The child was a boy, which Sparkle and Junior named Dick Tracy III.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- For some time, the creators made a practice of acknowledging each of Sparkle's birthdays in the strip. This practice fell by the wayside when Sparkle became a less prominent character. In 1981, Gravel Gertie explicitly stated Sparkle's age as 34.
- Sparkle and her father were the subjects of short original back-up features that appeared in Dick Tracy comic books. These were often humorous stories that involved B.O. trying to help Sparkle with some endeavor and inadvertently hurting or embarrassing himself.
- During the Moon Period, one of the magnetic Space Coupes was named after Sparkle. Some readers still associate ALL of the Space Coupe fleet with the name "Sparkle Plenty Space Coupe".
- The only Other Media in which Sparkle has appeared with the second original follow-up novel to the 1990 Dick Tracy feature film entitled Dick Tracy Meets His Match. In the novel, five-year-old Sparkle served as a flower girl at Dick and Tess' wedding. Her talents as a performer were discovered and she became a television sensation, which gained the attention of the villainous T.V. Wiggles.