When Shel Dorf, junior detective, tracked down the creator of ‘Dick Tracy’ ... in 1949


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As a child growing up in Detroit, Shel Dorf reached out to the cartoonists he worshiped by sending them custom Christmas cards. He was particularly taken with “Dick Tracy” and the comic-strip’s creator, Chester Gould.

When his father took a business trip to Chicago in 1949, Dorf and his younger brother, Michael, went along. Through some detective work of their own, they figured out that Gould lived in Woodstock, Ill., about 60 miles from Chicago.


“This is before celebrity stalkings,” his brother reminded me, as he recited the speech the teenage Dorf gave his father on the drive over: “Now listen, I want to do the talking. You always take over for me.”

When Gould opened the door and his young fan introduced himself, the friendly Gould responded, “Oh Sheldon, how are you?”

Thunderstruck that his hero recognized his name, Dorf was unable to speak for the next 15 minutes, and his father stepped in.

Dorf, who was a key founder of Comic-Con in San Diego, died Tuesday at 76. To read his obituary, click here.

-- Valerie J. Nelson