Main content:

Comics archive! Brenda Starr

Sunday sound effects

Curtis, 9/26/10

Curtis shackles its artist’s powerful, primitive vision and impeccable draftsmanship to the well-thumbed sheaf of stock narratives the world expects from a genre strip. Hey, it’s a living. But art will out! The strip slips its narrative fetters once a year for Kwanzaa, and once in a while for its title character’s superhero fantasies.

There’s so much to love here: the spandex mask rising to wrap SuperCaptainCoolMan’s improbable coiffure, the villain’s breakfast, mustache, and pince-nez, the allusion to confusing and unspeakable prison sex, “…you evil but stupid genius”, and that implacable wall o’ mammoth. But best of all, the electric elephant stinkeye at the climax, and “ZORGG.” A worthy successor to QLUNQ! HA HA HA WHINNY!

Then back to earth for a tired “principal’s office” joke — and maybe Derrick and “Onion” waiting in the hall? The nicest trips end far too soon.

Mark Trail, 9/26/10

Mark’s part-time gig with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has slowly but completely corrupted his principles as an Outdoor Journalist. No longer does he implore readers to “Enjoy Nature” — no, now it’s all, “Stay away from the terrifying outdoors, where you will die from the flash floods and the lightning and the tornadoes and the tsunamis and the flying squid.” And shilling weather radios so people can stay inside and entertain themselves by scaring the dog.

EEEEEEE!

Brenda Starr, 9/26/10

No sound effects here but the pitapat of my fanboy heart. Brenda Starr is looking into the Pokeville hometown background of Tap Fitzpatrick, the flamboyant DA falsely (she thinks) accused of the murder of TV host Felicity Fox (no, not her). Pokeville has its secrets, at least one of whom is driving that Hummer that nearly ran over Brenda’s Mustang. But most of the town’s action is at Joe’s One Stop, Pokeville’s Jack Ass Acres, where you can get anything you want from the resident gap-toothed androgyne and owner of Bullseye the Dog — except information.

O Brenda Starr, how do I love thee?

1. Crisp, hard-edged modern drawing by artist June Brigman — retaining the trademark eye-sparkles of Dale Messick’s loopy-girly style.
2. People smoke, yet the strip is not about their smoking (see, Curtis?).
3. Intelligent background jokes — “Live Bait! Tanning!”
4. Timely material — Hummers, Mustangs, bloggers, prescription drug abuse, the decline of print journalism.
5. Author Mary Schmich, renaissance woman and (dare I hope?) future hyphenated spouse of former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke.
6. Brenda Starr kicks ass!

Pluggers, 9/26/10

The essence of Pluggers. Except for the color, which seems way too upscale, and anyway should have leached out decades ago.



– Uncle Lumpy

Doin’ it for themselves

Hey, March is Women’s History Month — a great time to celebrate the many contributions to the funny pages by woman cartoonists.

Brenda Starr, 3/2/08

Dalia Messick called herself “Dale” to break into a male-dominated field and become the first woman syndicated cartoonist in 1940. With a lead character based on Rita Hayworth, the strip mixes workplace drama, romance, and adventure. Now written by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich*, Brenda Starr covers ripped-from-the-headlines themes like drugs, blogging, out-of-control heiresses, and an evil guy named Josh who, I’m told, takes lots of vacations. The plots move along pretty quickly, and feature occasional cameo appearances by actual celebrities. Brenda Starr broke a lot of ground for comics by and about women, and is still worth a look.

* Fun fact: remember the urban legend about Kurt Vonnegut’s “wear sunscreen” commencement address? That “address” was actually a column, and later a book, by Schmich.

Mary Worth, 3/9/08

When a woman takes over an established strip like Mary Worth, it can take her a while to make it her own. Since the death of John Saunders in 2003, Karen Moy has been taking small steps away from the strip’s time-honored “Ms. Fixit” model, showing us episodes in which Mary’s advice doesn’t work out, competition for her status as Charterstone’s premier advice-giver, and tantalizing (well, within limits) glimpses of her personal life. Here comes a flashback — maybe somebody once told her to floss regularly, and it turned out to be good advice. But hey, in Mary Worth, that’s not only good dental hygiene, it’s a great leap forward. You go, Karen Moy!

For Better or For Worse, 8/13/07, and 3/9/08 (excerpt)

Of course, “women’s themes” are still well represented by these artists. Here we see the simple domestic rituals of meal preparation passed from one generation to the next — shadowed by the grim realities of eating disorders and obesity.

Hey, Josh is back, and Monday will be chock full of Joshy goodness like Comments of the Week, new comics, and a recap of the Tucson meetup. Meantime, thanks for a great week, and your generosity during the Pledge Drive — see you in the comments!

- Uncle Lumpy