Creator: Chester Gould
Published: 1931-present (Gould stopped working on the strip in 1977)
"He got his two-way wristwatch in 1946. In 1969 he became temporary police chief of the moon. In the 1970s he grew a mustache." This brief synopsis of Dick Tracy's career, from a Time Magazine retrospective on long-running comic strips, says it all.
In the history of pop culture men, the original square-jawed badass has earned his place of distinction. The incredible juxtapositions of macho absurdity and real grit (anger at the system; the victimization of the innocent; a surprisingly deep look at the motives of criminals) makes Tracy a must-read, even in 2013.