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Steve the Tramp
SteveTramp01

First Appearance:

September 9th, 1932

Known Relatives:

Mary Steele, Ex-wife (deceased)
Junior Tracy, Step-son
Sparkle Plenty, Step-daughter-in-law
Moon Maid, Step-daughter-in-law (deceased)
Jewel Tracy, Step-granddaughter
Honeymoon Tracy, Step-granddaughter

Known Associates:

Smokehouse Joe
Dan
Dippy McDoogun
Stooge Viller (deceased)
Della (deceased)
J. Peter Twillbrain
Larceny Lu
Doc Hump (deceased)

Created By:

Chester Gould

Can Be Found:

Dick Tracy The Thirties: Tommy Guns and Hard Times
The Celebrated Cases of Dick Tracy
The Complete Dick Tracy Vol. 1
The Complete Dick Tracy Vol. 2
The Complete Dick Tracy Vol. 7

The man known as Steve the Tramp (last name alternately given as Maddis and Brogan) was a vagrant and a drifter for much of his life. At some point, he lost his right eye. During his days on the street, he typically wore a checkered coat and a battered cloth cap.

The Tramp and the KidEdit

Steve the Tramp was first seen as the brutal and abusive guardian of the Kid, later known as Dick Tracy Jr. Steve had Junior steal for him and then gave him bones and scraps for his supper. He had a habit of hitting the child and verbally threatening him. Both of them were homeless and Junior was eventually taken off the street by Dick Tracy.

Steve traveled west to Colorado, where he came upon the home of Hank Steele. Steve took a job as Hank's hired hand, and he learned of Hank's desire to be reunited with his long-lost son. Steve realized that Hank's missing son would be about Junior's age, and he hatched a plan to kidnap Junior and present him to Hank as his missing heir.

Steve returned to the city and kidnapped Junior, who was able to leave clues for Tracy about who had taken him and in what direction they were heading. Tracy managed to deduce Steve's plot and arrived at the Steele home before Steve did. Tracy delayed his confrontation with Steve so as to avoid the risk of endangering Junior. Steve discovered Tracy's presence and fled, enlisting the unwilling aid of Steele's cook Della. Steve was seriously injured in a fall off a cliff, and was later taken into police custody.

Steve was returned to the city for trial, where he was represented by J. Peter Twillbrain. Steve was sentenced to prison, where he later made the acquaintance of Stooge Viller. The two men made a daring prison break and once again plotted to gain Junior's inheritance and get revenge against Dick Tracy. After several failures, Steve and Viller eventually parted ways. Steve briefly partnered with Larceny Lu, and later with Doc Hump. During one of these schemes, Steve was once again severely injured and lost his left leg to gangrene. Steve was eventually returned to jail.

It was revealed that Steve the Tramp was the charismatic traveling man that had lured Hank Steele's wife Mary away from their home. Mary had run away with Steve, bringing her infant son with her. They were supposedly married, though it is unclear if Mary was ever officially divorced from Hank. When Steve and Mary parted, Steve kept the boy, who grew up to be Junior. This meant that Junior was actually Hank's long-lost son, though Steve did not seem to realize this when he first returned the boy to Hank. Steve revealed this information to Larceny Lu, which eventually led to Mary being reunited with her son.

Steve's ReformEdit

Steve
In 1941, Steve was released from prison, and wondered if people would believe that he had been rehabilitated. His former ward and Dick Tracy met him and made amends. Tracy later helped Steve get a permanent job by buying a fruit stand for him.

However, Steve was framed by Duke after a truck accident (during the Mole storyline) and Tracy had to establish Steve's innocence. Tracy received the help of the truck driver Steve had been riding with at the time of the collision, who was well enough to come to the jail to explain the situation. Steve would later be revealed to the second husband of Mary Steele and the step-father of Junior. Steve eventually left town to pursue a life as a carnival worker, because he loved to travel.

Steve03
When Junior was an adult, he would encounter his step-father again, who was now working in a soup kitchen for the local mission. The pastor was pleased with all that Steve contributed. The pastor mentioned to Junior that Steve had yet to forgive himself for the abuse he put Junior through in those early days, despite the fact that Junior had forgiven him. Junior showed signs of affection to Steve and enlisted his aid in an investigation of local homeless people who were going missing.

Appearances in Other MediaEdit

Movie ContinuityEdit

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Steve the Tramp was a character in the 1990 Dick Tracy feature film. He was played by actor Tony Epper.

Steve's portrayal in the film is very close to his comic strip story. He was the "protector" of the Kid, sending him out to steal and then taking most of what the Kid obtained. When Dick Tracy tracked the Kid to Steve's rail-yard shack, a brutal fistfight ensued, with Tracy knocking Steve through the wall. Steve was presumably taken into police custody and the Kid became Tracy's ward.

Steve briefly appeared in the comic-book prequel story, in which he and the Kid narrowly avoided crossing paths with some mobsters (who were subsequently killed).

NotesEdit

  • In 1941, Steve commented how for seven years he had had a number rather than a name (which roughly matches up with his 1933 sentence to prison), though Junior clearly had not aged seven years. Also, during one of his previous prison breaks, Steve had reportedly killed 4 prison guards. For him to be released after only serving 7 years of his sentence seems like a miscarriage of justice, though it is possible that his exploits were exaggerated.
  • While Steve was often cruel and violent, he was also shown to be charming and very loyal to his confederates. This inspired them to be loyal to him in return, and Steve was often able to call upon old friends to help him.
  • Steve was an extremely resilient and durable man, surviving numerous critical injuries during his encounters with Tracy and the law. Larceny Lu claimed that she had removed 7 bullets from Steve's body and head when he arrived at her hideout.
  • During the 1961 storyline in which Mary Steele died, Tracy indicated that Steve had died of a heart ailment in 1953. This was contradicted by the later soup kitchen story, resulting in a difficult-to-reconcile continuity error.
  • The action figure of Steve the Tramp produced by Playmates Toys for the 1990 feature film attracted the criticism of homeless advocacy groups, and it was subsequently pulled from shelves. As a result, the toy (especially on the original cardback) is more sought after by collectors than most of the other toys produced (though it is not as rare as The Blank).

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