http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/loca … 9974.story
After months of anticipation, Downtown Naperville's Riverwalk soon will welcome a crime fighter unlike any it has ever seen: fictitious police detective and funny-pages fixture Dick Tracy.
A 78-year presence in the comics who also has been portrayed on TV, in cartoons and on the silver screen, Tracy can add a new line to his resume: He's the subject of a nearly nine-foot, 2,000-pound bronze sculpture, which Naperville leaders will dedicate Sunday.
And while Naperville's criminal element doesn't match the hardscrabble characters that Tracy spends his time nabbing in a gritty big city, Naperville is an ideal setting for the sculpture, because Dick Locher, who writes the comic strip's story line, has lived in the city since 1969. Locher assisted the strip's creator, Chester Gould, in drawing the strip from 1957 until 1961, then returned as the sole cartoonist in 1983 He retired from drawing the strip last year but continues to write its story line.
"I am so damn excited," said Locher, who worked on the likeness with sculptor Don Reed, Beloit, Wis.-based River's Edge Foundry and leaders from Naperville's nonprofit Century Walk Corp., which places artwork on the Riverwalk. "It seems like the sculpture turned out pretty well."
The sculpture will be the 35th piece erected by Century Walk, said Naperville lawyer W. Brand Bobosky, who founded Century Walk in 1996 with an aim of placing 30 works of art along the Riverwalk. The group since has expanded its mission to funding and installing artwork all around Naperville.
"We're calling this a signature piece of art," Bobosky said. "Dick Tracy is world-renowned, so we believe that this will be a piece that will attract a lot of visitors to see it."
Depicting Dick Tracy using his two-way wrist radio, the sculpture shows the square-jawed sleuth wearing a yellow coat, a yellow hat and a red tie, Locher said. On hand Sunday for the 1 p.m. unveiling will be representatives from Century Walk, which funded the $130,500 sculpture largely through grant money from the city; Tribune Media Services, which owns the rights to the Tracy character; the Naperville City Council; and River's Edge Foundry.
"I think it's wonderful," said Naperville Mayor George Pradel. "Many people use the Riverwalk, and kids will be able to see the sculpture and associate Dick Tracy with Naperville."
The sculpture will be perched on the south side of the DuPage River on land owned by Naperville Township and is adjacent to its headquarters building.
"We had several spots to choose from along Water Street on the riverfront, and we really liked this location, which is about 10 feet from the water," said Locher, who continues to draw editorial cartoons for the Tribune while in semi-retirement. "Looking at the sculpture from Main Street, you'll see a perfect reflection of Dick Tracy in the water. We think that's kind of neat."
Close to a year in the making, the sculpture originally was scheduled to be dedicated in October, but after continued refinement of it, backers decided to wait to complete it until the weather improved, said Steve Tippie, vice president of licensing for Tribune Media Services. In all, about 50 people at the foundry worked on the sculpture, with the foundry pouring the first metal castings for it in September, Reed said.
"We tried to create a great piece of art, knowing full well that it may be around for 400 or 500 years into the future if it's cared for," Reed said.
Century Walk officials, city officials and Tribune Media are considering defraying some of the Tracy sculpture's cost by having maquettes, or scale models, of the sculpture created and sold. However, that has not been decided, Tippie and Bobosky said.
In the meantime, with the 2008 closing of the Chester Gould-Dick Tracy museum in Woodstock — cartoonist Gould's hometown until his death in May 1985 — the sculpture will be the most prominent manifestation of Dick Tracy in the Chicago area. It will join another unique DuPage County commemoration of the detective: a bunker at the Cantigny golf course near Wheaton designed in the shape of his fedora-topped head.
A tractor-trailer was scheduled to deliver the sculpture from Beloit to Naperville, Reed said.
"We're going to take a semi and put (the sculpture) in a cradle, protect it as much as we can, and drive real slow," he said last week.