In the course of the manhunt for The Blank*, Dick Tracy uses a method much similar to that of the polaroid transfer described above. Although the reader only ever sees Tracy use this process( which he cleverly dubbed The Wet Film Process) once, he obviously has had years of experience. Tracy uses The Wet Film Process to lift The Blank’s hand print from a wall. He claims The Process is so sensitive he could ‘lift the print of a shoe off linoleum.’

Materials: -- In his Kit of Photographic Supplies
  • Two cups water
  • Development chemicals and equipment
  • Miniature Rolling Pin
  • Flashlight with a red lens
  • Two sheets of blotter paper
  • Pack of unexposed film
  • and a Feather duster – That’s right, real men do use feather dusters.

At this point it must be noted that, if you try The Wet Film Process at home, you need someone to hang over your shoulder, exclaiming ‘Gosh’ and ‘That’s Wonderful!’ at every step.

Step One: ‘First, we dust any excess dirt off the print’ The illustration shows Tracy daintily using the feather duster on the area believed to posses the print.

Step Two: ‘Turn the garage lifts off,’ he says to his helper, ‘while I take a piece of unexposed film from this pack and moisten it.’ The illustration shows Tracy at a sink, however, one only needs enough water to moisten a piece of film. So the sink is unnecessary. However, the film must be moistened in the dark.

‘Then you must blot the film between two blotter papers to remove the excess moisture.’ Presumably excess is underlined because to don’t want to blot all the moisture out, so leave the film wet, but not dripping.

Step Three: ‘I use a flashlight with a red glass in it to see where to place the film. By pressing the moist film gently,’ he says, while leaning with all his upperbody strength on this poor hand print, ‘every minute part of the fingerprint adheres to the emulsion.’ This is where the rolling pin comes in; repeatedly roll over the film, causing it to adhere to the emulsion.

Step Four: Develop the picture. Although Tracy doesn’t tell us how to do this, it can’t be too hard. In one frame he’s saying ‘Now we must develop the film.’ And in the next it’s developed and enlarged.

While Tracy never specifies what type of film he is using (and therefore this writeup doesn't techinically belong under the title of polaroid transfer) the similarities between the above method and The Wet Film Process are too great to be ignored.

*The Blank was the second episode of Dick Tracy and was published (and copyrighted) in 1937-1938 by Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate.