In 1919, his family moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma where he attended Oklahoma A & M (now Oklahoma State University) until 1921. That year, he moved to Chicago where he transferred to Northwestern University. He graduated from Northwestern in 1923. Fascinated by the comics since childhood, Gould quickly found work as a cartoonist and was hired by the William Randolph Hearst's Chicago Evening American newspaper for whom he produced his first comic strips "Fillum Fables" beginning in 1924 and "The Radio Catts". He also produced a topical strip about Chicago, "Why It's a Windy City." Gould married Edna Gauger in 1926 and their daughter, Jean, was born in 1927.
In 1931, Gould was hired as a cartoonist with the Chicago Tribune and introduced the Dick Tracy cartoon. He drew the comic strip for the next 46 years from his home in Woodstock, Illinois. His work on the strip won him the Reuben Award for 1959 and 1977. He was also given a Special Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1980.
Gould's stories were rarely extensively preplanned as he preferred to improvise his stories as he drew them. While fans praised this style as creating exciting stories, it sometimes created awkward plot developments that were difficult to resolve. A notorious case was when Gould had Tracy trapped in an inescapable deathtrap in a caisson. Gould first depicted Tracy addressing Gould personally and having the cartoonist magically extract him. It was a move that his publisher, Joseph Patterson, personally vetoed and ordered a redraw of the sequence.
Late in the period of Gould's control of it, the Tracy strip was widely criticized as too right-wing in character, and as excessively worshipful of the police. This commentary argued that Gould was using the strip to push his own right-wing agenda such as attacking the rights of the accused at the expense of storytelling. Additionally, the late 1950s saw a changing newspaper readership that was perhaps less tolerant of Gould's grotesque style. Whereas in the 1940s when Gould introduced an odiforous, chewing tobacco spitting character, B.O. Plenty, with little significant complaint from readers; the later introduction of the crooked lawyer named "Flyface" and his relatives, all of whom were surrounded by swarming flies at all times, created a negative reader reaction strong enough for papers to drop the strip in large numbers. There was then a dramatic change in the strip's paradigm to feature science fiction plot elements, with regular visits to the moon. This led to an increasingly fantastic procession of enemies and stories that largely abandoned the strip's format of urban crime drama; the Apollo 11 moon landing prompted Gould to abandon this phase. Finally, Dick Tracy was beset by the overall trend in newspaper comics away from strips with continuing story lines and toward those whose stories are largely resolved within one series of panels.
Gould, his characters and improbable plots were satirized in the Fearless Fosdick sequences (supposedly drawn by "Lester Gooch") appearing within Al Capp's comic strip Li'l Abner; a notable villain was Bomb Face, a gangster whose head was a bomb.
Gould retired December 25, 1977 and died May 11, 1985 of congestive heart failure. His life and creations are memorialized in the Chester Gould-Dick Tracy Museum in Woodstock, Illinois.
Date of Birth:
November 20, 1900
Date of death:
May 11, 1985 Favorite Creators:
Chester Gould is a favorite creator of 4 usersAwards:
- 1996 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Nominee - Hall of Fame
- 2000 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Nominee - Hall of Fame
- 2001 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Winner - Hall of Fame: (Voter's choice)