I've been repeatedly trying and failing to find the original Dick Tracy
comic strips featuring the villain known as Haf-and-Haf:Painting by waltyablonsky, which you can actually purchase right here.
Debuting in 1966 by Tracy
creator Chester Gould himself, Haf-and-Haf was--to put it bluntly--an obvious Two-Face rip-off. But considering he was ripped off by Gould, who was himself one of the biggest influences on Batman's own rogues gallery, I can't bring myself to fault the man. Especially considering that Haf-and-Haf's appeared during Harvey's seventeen-year absence from comics.
So I've been wanting to read the original Haf-and-Haf story myself, but it's simply not in print. Anywhere. Not even online. Now, IDW is reprinting all of the Dick Tracy
strips in chronological order, but that means we're several years
from ever seeing the volume which will include Haf-and-Haf.
In fact, the only strips I've been able to find were these pages of original art for sale at some hoity-toity auction site:( A brief glimpse at the origins of Haf-and-Haf )
Yeah, he gets the whole full half-body acid-bath treatment. What's more, the character is explicitly depicted as constantly being in horrible pain.
I still have little idea what actually happened in this story, or how it ended. One thing is clear, though: Haf-and-Haf survived, which was damn uncommon, as Gould almost always killed off his mobsters or at least sent them to prison, where they stayed.
I'm no scholar in Dick Tracy
(I'd like to read more), but from my limited exposure, Gould's criminals were cold-blooded killers, vicious and without the theatricality of Batman's, and they always faced harsh, inescapable justice. Gould was hard-line to the point of being a bit wacko, as evidenced by cartoonist Jay Lynch's autobiographical comic recounting the time he and Robert Crumb met Gould
. Yeah, this wasn't a guy who was interested in redemption or empathy. While Haf-and-Haf may have copied Harvey's style, he had little to none of Harvey's tragedy or sympathy. He was a bad guy, period.
So it's all the more strange that he survived to return in a later Tracy storyline by Gould's successor: Max Allan Collins, a crime writer who would go on to write Batman and--most notably--create Jason Todd. Or at least, the post-Crisis Jason Todd who was an impulsive little thug that few people liked and who ended up getting killed by the Joker. Collins also came up with the idea that this Jason Todd's father was a two-bit mobster, who ended up getting killed by his boss... (wait for it)... Two-Face!
As a writer who straddled both worlds, it's interesting to see that Collins reintroduced Haf-and-Haf as an ex-con who had gotten plastic surgery:
I love that even with his face fixed, his hair and mustache are half-white. I'd kind of love to see that on a reformed Harvey Dent, where his hair still comes in as gray or silver. At the very least, he'd have to dye it, but I like the idea of him leaving it as it is as a reminder, even as it marks him for his once (and future?) criminal life.( A slightly-less-brief-but-still-brief-nonetheless look at the return of Haf-and-Haf )
Yeah, at this point, Collins didn't seem to even be trying
to hide the Two-Face similarities. But I dunno, maybe he wanted the character to stand up on his own, to strike his own style, to...
Ah. Well, never mind, then. Unless you count the addition of the snazzy cravat.
At this point, I should mention that I honestly think Haf-and-Haf is even more
grotesque than Harvey. There's something about the way his face actually seems to be melting, with his eye seemingly eaten away under the twisted flesh. At first glance, Henchgirl even thought that his white hair made it look like his own brain was exposed, which I now can't un-see. Ewwwww.
I've only been able to find excerpts of this story, but while I don't know how it resolves, it's clear that Collins gave Haf-and-Haf an ending befitting Gould's world:
No ceremony. No grand final lines. No dying words. Just bam, dead. Dick Tracy
was hardcore, violent, and unforgiving stuff, man.
One last thing: in looking for any other images or info on Haf-and-Haf, the same hoity-toity auction house offered a vintage set of Dick Tracy
buttons, which are pretty awesome in their own right.( I'd totally wear several of these )
If any of you have info on Haf-and-Haf and/or Tracy
in general, please feel free to share it with the rest of the class. :)