Mike Sekowsky’s Tracey Thompson
by Travis Hedge Coke
Appearing only in two successive 1970-71 issues of Adventure Comics, Tracey Thompson is an amazing young investigator created by an uncredited Mike Sekowsky.
Thompson’s first story, Tracey Thompson in the Strange House, ran in the back of Adventure Comics #401, is inked by an uncredited Frank Giacoia, colored by an unknown colorist, and truly highlights Sekowsky’s gifts as a creator.
With her friend Betsy, our self-elected girl detective visits the abandoned Palmer House that night, prove that it is not haunted.
I have no evidence that later character, Traci Thirteen, daughter of Dr. Terrence Thirteen, created in 1951, model that all on Tracey Thompson, and in fact Thompson shares more of Terrence’s skepticism than his daughter.
Sekowsky gives Tracey and Betsy wonderfully emotive faces and body language, that along with his lively angular linework reminds me of Steve Yoewell’s best, twenty years later.
Why do the “ghosts” in Tracey Thompson in Strange House have the same names as Superman’s adoptive parents? Were Superman’s adoptive parents named Jon and Martha at that time?
If anything these similar names only add to the disorienting effect as our two teens seemingly fail to prove a haunted house is not haunted.
They quickly find the criminals hiding in the house, but before we can assume they set up the ghosts to scare people away, it is revealed they too are afraid of these hunting specters.
Nancy Drew or the Scooby-Doo gang would march right back in there to investigate, however Tracey decides, Oh the hell with it, and she and her friend just leave.
The second and final story, Tracey Thompson in “Rat-Race” appears in Adventure Comics #402, also written and drawn by Sekowsky, this time inked by Tony DeZuniga.
Unfortunately, the uncredited colorist is distractingly inconsistent with skin colors, especially, leaving Tracey, in the first few pages, to shift from to shades of white girl, to sallow or Black.
DeZuniga’s rounder inking and fuller details leave the artwork with dramatic motion, but much less structural intensity, as Tracey and her bestie, Betsy, get into a fight with some bikers and join up with a random goodhair hitchhiker, who they for some reason let drive their convertible.
In two short comics we are shown enough of Tracey’s life to doubt that these are anomalous adventures. It would seem, Tracey just goes around getting into stuff.
Most bizarrely, well the first story is a debunking that doesn’t debunk, in Rat Race, we have a completely non-supernatural story that ends on a very curious note, when the hitchhiker who has helped the girls, including setting up a trap to go with the biker gang, addresses the situation as if he was not there.
“Once the word gets out they were foxed by two girls,” implies that the only eyewitnesses, the gang and Betsy and Tracy, will either not tell of the hitchhiker, or did not see him.
Or, by some strange situation, will forget him and his participation.
Did Betsy and Tracey pick up a phantom hitchhiker? Who not only help them in a fistfight with bikers, but also drove their car and set traps?
Will Betsy and Tracey also forget this mysterious man?
Considering no one has ever followed the stories up with official Tracey or Betsy appearances, we may never know if all of their escapades are supernatural despite themselves, if this is a lifestyle these two young women live, and even just is the hitchhiker a ghost.
Mike Sekowsky’s Tracey Thompson
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