Remembering Naperville Cartoonist Dick Locher

“All heroes do not wear tights.”

And certainly not in the world Dick Locher created. The cartoonist penned the Dick Tracy comic strip for over 30 years, remaining as a consultant even after he retired in 2011.

“People say does Dick Tracy really live? Yeah, I talk to him I don’t get many answers,” said Locher in an interview in 2011.

He signed on as an editorial cartoonist at the Chicago Tribune in 1973 – and likened his chosen field to the work of a blind javelin thrower.

“We don’t win lots of awards but we keep the crowd alert,” said Locher.

But in fact, Locher landed the biggest award to be had – an illustration he did depicting Ronald Reagan in a Superman outfit won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1983.

Not bad for a kid from Dubuque, Iowa – who served time in the air force as a concept engineer, designing new planes; even seeing his B-58 Hustler take flight during the Korean War. From there, he entered the advertising world, and in the late 50’s, crossed paths with Chester Gould, the originator of Dick Tracy. He became one of his assistants, and eventually took over as the main artist in 1983.

“I had a lot of fun with Americana. I was part of it – and that’s a great feeling, to wake up and say Dick Tracy was part of that group,” said Locher.

Throughout his career, Mary, his wife of more than 60 years would be both his greatest supporter, and best sounding board.

“I’d show her the cartoon for a reaction, and I’d get this, or this or I might get this,” said Locher.

The two moved their family to Naperville in 1969, and his influence is seen throughout town. He helped design the sculpture of Naperville founder Joe Naper, and played a large role in the creation of the nearly 9-foot tall Dick Tracy sculpture that’s perched on the Riverwalk.

The crime fighting legend seems a fitting symbol for a man who used his pen to hold political figures accountable, while filling the years with stories of keeping the city safe.

“My first editor that I had, we got along real well together. He says ‘Dick, remember, if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.’ And so, I don’t want to take up too much space, I want to live on the edge, which is kind of fun,” added Locher.

Dick Locher died August 6, at the age of 88.

Naperville News 17’s Kim Pirc reports.

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