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Sassy, Stylish Comic Strip Journalist Brenda Starr To Retire After 70 Years in the Business

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After 70 years of only the most stylish and harrowing of journalistic adventures, funny pages heroine Brenda Starr’s press pass is due to expire in three weeks. The Brenda Starr comic strip—featuring the bold, sassy investigative reporter extraordinaire—is scheduled for its last printing on January 2, 2011.

Originally created by Dale Messick—who changed her name from Dalia to Dale in order to fit in the overtly sexist days of World War II-era America—Brenda Starr, the redheaded, jet-setting reporter for The Flash first appeared in a June 1940 Chicago Tribune insert. After Messick’s retirement in 1980, the strip was passed on to three more generations of female writer and illustrator teams until Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich and artist Julie Brigman took over the storyline and artwork duties in 1985.

Over the years, Brenda Starr became a worldwide sensation and has appeared in at least 250 newspapers around the world. Even those who are not familiar with the ongoing soap opera storyline that involved steamy on-and-off romance with mystery man Basil St. John, exotic cross-continent voyages, and a cast of eccentric characters have some awareness of Starr’s plucky persona and her unmatched fashion sense. The popularity of Brenda Starr even inspired two movies, including the disastrous 1989 adventure film starring Brooke Shields and Timothy Dalton.

During her younger days, Brenda Starr was typecasted as a "girl reporter"—a "weepier, girlier, ditzier" character where most plot lines revolved around her love life. Keeping pace with changing times, she has evolved into a modern, independent, sassy lady. The change in character has also been reflected in the way Brenda has been illustrated and stylized, from flamboyant accessories and brightly-colored fitted skirt suits in the early decades to more office-appropriate, functional slacks and jackets in more recent years. Legend has it that a die-hard fan of the cartoon was said to have submitted at least 1,500 dress designs for the fashion plate.

Brenda Starr will always be remembered for her high style blended with glamour, romance and intrigue, along with amazing balance of life with a full-time job, contrasting from many women today. The first volume of a collection of the comic's daily and Sunday strips titled Brenda Starr, Reporter by Dale Messick: The Collected Daily and Sunday Newspaper Strips is due out in June 2011 in a hardback edition to be published by Hermes Press.

Brenda Starr quits after 70 years on the comics pages [Chicago Tribune]
Brenda Starr (1989 Movie) [IMDb]