This is not my typical bailiwick, as I typically cover the Silver Age of Comic Books, and mostly don't cover comic strips.
Dick Tracy is one of the longest-running comic strips in American history. He first appeared in 1931, and is still going strong some 81 years later. Tracy is a police detective who solves cases by dint of dogged perseverance, occasional solid sleuthing, and incredible coincidences.
Dick has fought an oddball assortment of criminals and racketeers over the years, most of whom have some physical abnormality. Flattop had a flat head. Pearshape was skinny on top, but obese below the waist. BB Eyes had tiny eyes.
One of the most interesting things about the Dick Tracy series was its focus on chase scenes. In almost every case, Tracy's first encounter with the villain does not end with the capture or death of that crook, but in an extended chase. Tracy's antagonists were ingenious in their methods of escaping justice (temporarily). For example, consider Mousey, a female shoplifter who specializes in releasing white rats in a store to distract the shopkeeper. After stealing a mink, she finds Tracy on her tail. What does she do?
Yep, she hides in the dog-catcher's van, hidden under her stole.
The Tracy series was extraordinarily violent, especially compared to the books I normally review here. Criminals often killed innocent bystanders, witnesses, and even their own spouses:
However, the series also had comic relief, generally provided by a hillbilly couple named B.O. Plenty and Gravel Gertie, and their talented young daughter, Sparkle Plenty. The series was not without its touching moments as well. For example, on Christmas Day, 1949, it was announced that Dick had married his longtime girlfriend, Tess Trueheart:
Almost a year later, B.O. Plenty stopped four bullets intended for Tracy, and seemed on death's door. And there came this moving scene:
Tracy's prayers are answered, and B.O. rallies, although he remains in a coma. Dick realizes that perhaps hearing his daughter, Sparkle, singing might bring him around:
The series also had a lot of high-tech (for its time) gadgetry, most notably, Tracy's two-way radio wristwatch (which later became a two-way TV).
I didn't read a lot of Dick Tracy in my youth. My parents didn't get a paper with a Sunday funnies, so the only time I got to read the color comics was on our monthly visits to my grandparents. And of course then it was almost impossible to keep up with a continuous strip like this, or Prince Valiant. I do remember that he used to fly around in what looked like a garbage can, and there was some kind of race of people on the moon that he interacted with. And of course there was the 1960s TV cartoon show, which pushed Dick to the sidelines in favor of a rotating crew of sidekicks, like Joe Jitsu (a martial arts expert) or Go-Go-Gomez. The two-way radio functioned in the cartoons like the time-stopping watch
Still, if you get the chance, I highly recommend reading the earlier years of the Dick Tracy strip.