Thursday, December 9, 2010

Childhood hero hangs up her skirt suits

After over seventy years in the funnies, Brenda Starr hits (or misses) her last deadline on January 2, 2011.

The strip has been drawn by women cartoonists since its creation by Dalia (nomme de plume Dale) Messick. Although it is set in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune was reluctant to publish a woman-created comic until several years into Brenda Starr's syndication.

Brenda's departure is the bitter cherry on top of a rough year for women in the funnies. I wasn't very attached to Little Orphan Annie, whose final strip ran in May, and, among all the sweat beads springing off her head and the little hearts in every panel, I couldn't even read Cathy, which ended in October.

But Brenda Starr has a special place in my heart, right between Lois Lane and Anne of Green Gables. It's one of those story-driven strips that rewards most--however slowly--the daily reader. Which I have been. Since junior high.

Fantastical though the story lines were, cheesy though the dialogue could be, Brenda the character always had a sense of competence and purpose that I admired and to which I aspired. In the period of a few comic-days (spanning weeks in real time), Brenda would spar with her editor, accept a story assignment, pursue a whirlwind adventure under the guise of this story assignment, travel to a completely different country, fall in love, have several men fall in love with her, solve the mystery of whatever was the subject of her story assignment, and be back in time to file her article and have a conversation with her dog Patch before bed.

Brenda Starr got stuff done.

So, on the eve of Brenda Starr's final story/adventure/love/dog lady moment, I have just one thing to say:

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