Hammett: More Tad’s Blind Man

Once he’s on the trail, Terry Zobeck sticks like a bloodhound — and the Tad’s blind man bit from the Op story “It” has caught his attention. He put out a general inquiry on the Fiction Mags list, and credits fellow FictionMagateer Steve Rowe for steering him toward cartoonist Thomas A. Dorgan. Here’s Terry:

Although Hammett is not specific as to who Tad is, I now suspect he may be the cartoonist Thomas A. Dorgan (1877-1929), who signed his work “Tad.” He was born in San Francisco and was quite well-known in his day (he is credited with coining the word hot-dog).

Tad may well have used this saying about a blind man in a black room in a cartoon with which Hammett was familiar — and which he liked enough to use twice in his fiction.

I guess the next step will be to track a specific cartoon, or series of cartoons (if Tad used the motif more than once). It’ll probably be a matter of dumb luck, finding it, but there are a lot of comic art collectors out there, so who knows? Looking quickly into the matter, I was interested to see that Tad was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, for his many drawings of the ring — a hard-boiled cartoonist, no less.

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