‘Brenda Starr’ to Retire in 2011, Deluxe Reprints on the Way
After 70 years of only the most stylish and harrowing of journalistic adventures, Brenda Starr will hang up her press pass on January 2 of 2011. Created by Dale Messick in 1940, the strip passed from female creator to female creator until writer Mary Schmich took over the strip 25 years ago. She and longtime artist Julie Brigman have chosen to conclude their work next year, and the Chicago Tribute Syndicate has decided it's an apt time to retire Brenda Starr altogether. However, fans of Starr and classic cartooning have much to look forward to in 2011, when Hermes Press releases the first in a series of deluxe Brenda Starr reprints starting with Messick's first work.Messick, who changed her name from Dalia to Dale so as to facilitate her work in the overtly sexist days of 1940s America, wrote and illustrated Brenda Starr from 1940 to 1980. Over the years, the idiom of Brenda Starr made its way into American consciousness, and even those who've never read one of Messick or her successors' stories have some awareness of the plucky career woman and her unmatched fashion sense. As pointed out by Heidi MacDonald at The Beat, the presence of Brenda Starr in comics' lexicon has no small impact on the question of female creators' contributions to the art form, as the character has persevered for 70 years.
In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, current Brenda Starr writer mary Schmidch said the spirit of Messick's original work influenced her approach to the strip, even after Messick passed away in 1995.
"When I inherited Brenda, she was much weepier, much girlier," Schmich said. "I shifted her away from that, but I can't shift her away entirely. That's part of what that character is. There's a little bit of ditziness in Brenda that's always been there, and however tough-minded I might make her, she's always going to be a little ditzy. That's who she is."
Schmich intimated that the recent death of her mother prompted her exit from Brenda Starr -- that and the fact that as of now, only a relative handful of newspapers around the world.
"There's sadness about stopping, but no regret and no ambivalence," Schmich said. "It came to me really clearly that I was done. ... I don't think the character is dead. But the comic strip in this form is."
On sale in June of 2011, the first Hermes Press reprint of Messick's original Brenda Starr material will be a 9"x12" hardcover volume with 288 pages. Priced at a hefty $60 dollars, the book reprints for the first time the original Brenda Starr Sunday storylines in full color, as well as the "Man of Mystery" storyline featuring Starr's longtime love interest Basil St. John.