Thursday, December 23, 2010

Brenda Starr Retires

After 70 years in the newspaper biz, Brenda Starr, Reporter is being retired by the Chicago Tribune. Writer, Mary Schmich and artist, June Brigman have decided to call it quits. Rather than find a new team, the Tribune has decided to cancel the strip. (I knew I should have finished that two year script! Brenda would have had story lines FOREVER! Starr Twinkle! Basil! Hank! B-Bomb! Pesky! Merrie Ryder! Wanda Fonda & Sage, etc. Didn't want to draw it --- just wanted to write it!) But, our beloved red headed reporter will not be forgotten. She is being commemorated in a new hard backed, full color compilation series of Sunday and Daily strips by Hermes Press in June 2011.

I have been wanting to write about Brenda on this blog for AGES, but every time I started --- I would honestly just get overwhelmed. Like now. She had SO much history. SO many adventures. So much of it SO incredible. She influenced me SO much in my life as a storyteller and cartoonist. I just wanted to do her justice. In the end, I don't know if I can. But, I will try. This is just a tid bit. Brenda's creator, Dale Messick was a genius (1906 - 2005). She changed her name from Dalia in order to get in the door and prove that a strong female lead could head a strip. Originally, Brenda was supposed to be a girl pirate. But, I'm glad that changed. She evolved into the glamorous red headed reporter that chased story after story, helped people, solved problems, then eventually met her Mystery Man. (Now ... she chased him for over 30 years, but still ... So, hang in there, gurls!) I hate to see her go, but I'm happy she's actually not going anywhere. Dale ... you did good, girl. It's about time you got more props. This is just the beginning !

Brenda Starr, Reporter

Being saved by The Mystery Man
Basil St. John
Trying to ditch a potential beau, Timber Woods.
Tears and regrets. Always. A gal can't wait forever.
A red head gone fiery!
Oh, that Brenda! What have you done now?!?
Liz Cleaver pretending to be Libby Lipps, another hater after our Brenda.
Prof. Dan Dalivar discovering that Brenda will always love her Mystery Man.
More haters!
The life of a glamorous red head.
Wrong, but honest reflection.
Hands off, Dr. Dell! Our Brenda ain't having it!
Another Mystery Man wannabe. Don't fall for it, Brenda!
Gasp! Our Brenda in another predicament!
Like a pro, her next step is to interview him!
Make-over madness!
Merrie Ryder, a little girl grown up to find woman problems!
Never ride while angry.
A familiar culprit: amnesia!
Clever Brenda helping another hater!
That's right! A woman's in charge!
Using what she has to find her Mystery Man --- again!
And, finally getting him: Mr. & Mrs. Basil St. John!
And the birth of their daughter, Starr Twinkle!
The story I remembered first --- Galaxy Gal!
Losing her Mystery Man to the Bermuda Triangle in a hot air balloon.
More to come!


Jubell said...

I have...NEVER heard of this comic strip before but then again a lot of strips aren't carried all the way down in South Florida (It was YEARS before they carried Prince Valiant)


And you've really piqued my interest. I may have to get that collection you mentioned.

Victor Hodge said...

OMG!!!! You don't know about Brenda Starr and her Mystery Man?!? I just hit the tip of the iceberg, too. I grew up on the Sunday Comics and am probably a lot older than you. Poor print media is dying. But, many more Brenda posts to come now that I've started. Ramona Fradon took over Brenda after Dale Messick ... "retired." Her run is what I'm most familiar with. I worship her Brenda. So much more to share. I can hardly wait. Movies. Dolls. Books.

Belasco said...

Hey Victor,
I was lucky enough to grow up near Chicago and was able to get their wonderful Sunday comics section that included classic strips like Brenda Starr, Steve Canyon, Kerry Drake, The Girls in Apt 3-G, and my all time favorite, Dick Tracy. Your post has definitely piqued my interest in picking up the reprints of Brenda Starr. I always thought it had a lot in common with Dick Tracy, just replace the police stuff with reporting. But I digress. Did you ever pick up that Brenda Starr paper doll book that was reprinted about ten years ago?
Anyway, Great Post...

Victor Hodge said...

Hey!!! I have a couple Brenda Starr paper doll books. I will generally pick up just about anything Brenda that I can find. I have the first six Dick Tracy reprints. I see the similarities. They both had some bizarre looking characters!!!

Belasco said...

Hey Victor,
I saw this today on Cartoon Brew and thought of's a hoot with both our faves in it!

Jubell said...

OMG! Belasco, that clip is awesome

(sorry to cut in)

Laura said...

I love this. Dale Messick was a genius. I am her granddaughter, Laura and I've written a play about Dale's life that is getting a run in NYC June 3-12, 2011. The play is called REPORTER GIRL...and I've been working on it for a long time. I started it when my granny, who I loved dearly was still alive. Just now, a month before it's being staged, I am working at changing some things in the script, specifically the cartoon sequence. I had one in there that was one of my granny's favorites, but I'd like to put more Mystery Man in there...I'd love to hear more....specifically how he was introduced. Here's a link for more info on the play. It's part of a comic book theater festival.

Victor Hodge said...

Hi, Laura. I have definitely heard of your play. That's SO exciting. I WORSHIP your grandmother's work!!! Dale Messick was TRULY a genius.

Brenda Starr is what I always remember and think of when it comes to comic strips and even when I sit down to draw. She is totally an inspiration. I have been obsessed with Brenda Starr for as long as I can remember. I am SO glad she and your grandmother is being treated with some respect and recognized after all these years with the release of "Brenda Starr, Reporter" (the Chapter Movies - get it on Amazon!!!) starring the beautiful Joan Woodbury and the collections (though delayed Tsk! Tsk!) from Hermes Press. Dale Messick deserves every bit of the credit and MORE for her incredible creation. Brenda is an amazing character and your grandmother was apparently amazing. I will make sure I can do whatever it is to make the world know that. What would be incredible is to see her Granny Glamour strips that she did. I can't say enough good things about either.

On Brenda's retirement ... it would have been lovely to see Brenda ride off into the sunset with Basil, her Mystery Man pursuing more adventures --- or at least looking for their missing child, Starr Twinkle.