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CHESTER GOULD: A DAUGHTER'S BIOGRAPHY...

Chester Gould: A Daughter’s Biography of the Creator of Dick Tracy by Jean Gould O’Connell (125 7x10-inch pages, hardback; $45 from www.mcfarlandpub.com ; or 800-253-2187). The author was about four years old when her father’s classic gumshoe strip was launched in the fall of 1931, so her personal on-site recollections do not include much in detail about the earliest years of the strip, but she’s mined the family archives for illustrative materials for her father’s ten previous years in Chicago during which he submitted 60 comic strip ideas to the Chicago Tribune-New York Daily News’ honcho, Joseph Patterson, all rejected; the book includes examples of 8 of the 60.

Even if she can’t testify out of on-the-spot experience about much that happened before, say, 1937, when she’d have been about ten, O’Connell, an only child, was curious about her father’s work and obviously talked to him a good deal about it. She regales us with numerous anecdotes that were clearly told to her by her father — like the story of how Smith Davis, an agent for newspaper publishers, tried to get Gould to leave the Tribune-News Syndicate for Marshall Field’s embryonic enterprise, the Chicago Sun, to which he had just seduced Milton Caniff in 1944. Field, through Davis, offered Gould the same guarantee he’d given Caniff: $100,000 a year. Gould’s answer: “I’m not going to leave the Tribune. ... You give Mr. Field a big thank you, and tell him I’m working for the outfit that gave me the only break I’ve ever had in my life, and a million dollars wouldn’t get me away.”

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