Robot 6

Comics A.M. | Brenda Starr to retire; women like superhero comics, too

Brenda Starr

Comic strips | Tribune Media Services has announced it will cancel the 70-year-old comic strip Brenda Starr rather than find replacements for writer Mary Schmich and artist June Brigman, who have decided to end their lengthy run. The final installment will appear on Jan. 2. Created by Dale Messick, the flame-haired reporter debuted in The Chicago Tribune on June 30, 1940, and later appeared in comic books and movies, and on merchandise. Messick retired in 1980, and has been succeeded on the strip only by women, from Ramona Fradon to Linda Sutter to Schmich and Brigman.

Kiel Phegley offers commentary, and catches a series of tweets from writer Dan Slott, who relates that his great-grandfather’s sister championed Brenda Starr at The Chicago Tribune. In related news, Tribune Media Services is partnering with Hermes Press on a multi-volume hardcover series titled Brenda Starr, Reporter by Dale Messick: The Collected Daily and Sunday Newspaper Strip. The first volume will be released in June. [press release]

Retailing | Borders Group reported a third-quarter loss of $74.4 million, nearly double the loss incurred during the same period in 2009. provides analysis. [GalleyCat]


Retailing | Amazon announced Thursday it will begin making current Nielsen BookScan sales data available to authors on its site, information that’s usually only shared six months or more later through royalty statements from publishers. John Jackson Miller, an Amazon author himself, explores what’s being shared. [Jacket Copy]

Awards | Submissions are being accepted through March 4 for the 2011 Eisner Awards. [Eisner Awards]

Publishing | Ten Japanese publishers, including Kadokawa Shoten as well as Shueisha, Shogakukan and Kodansha, have announced they will boycott next year’s Tokyo International Anime Fair because of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s latest efforts to further restrict sexual content in manga, anime and video games. [Anime News Network]

Publishing | Scott Thill spotlights Dark Horse’s new digital initiative, which launches in January. [Underwire]

Publishing | A recent quote from former DC Comics Publisher Paul Levitz — “I’m not sure that young women are as interested in reading about superheroes. The fundamental dynamic of the superhero story has historically been more appealing to boys than to girls.” — sparks an open letter from blogger Lisa Fortuner to newly appointed Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras: “I’ve heard it argued that women will not appreciate tightly woven multi-decade continuity or complex fantastical plots, but a mere hour viewing General Hospital should dispel that argument. The genre-loving book and television female audience are only kept from comic books by the industry’s reluctance to seek them out.” [Written World]

Publishing | Marvel is scouting for talent at the Singapore Toy, Games & Comic Convention, which kicks off today. It marks the publisher’s first appearance at the event. [Channel NewsAsia]

Batman Incorporated #1

Publishing | Matt Duarte crunches estimated sales numbers, and dubs DC’s Batman Incorporated “the $3-million franchise.” [The Weekly Crisis]

Best of the year | Sandy Bilus has begun collecting links to best-of-the-year lists. [I love Rob Liefeld]

Best of the year | Ian McGillis selects some of the year’s best graphic novels, including X’ed Out, Market Day and The Best American Comics 2010. [The Gazette]

Creators | Neil Gaiman talks about the changing audience for comics, and editing The Best American Comics 2010. [NPR]

Creators | Perry Bible Fellowship creator Nicholas Gurewitch discusses the Internet, stepping back from his webcomic, and working on Marvel’s Strange Tales. [Comics Alliance]

Internet | In response to this post by T. Hodler, The A.V. Club editor Keith Phipps has apologized for running a review Genius Isolated: The Life & Art Of Alex Toth by a writer who couldn’t have actually seen the book, as it hasn’t been finished: “I don’t want to speculate on the writer’s motivations, but I can say that in no way was the publisher of the book, IDW, involved. This sort of behavior is absolutely unacceptable, and we will not be working with the writer again in any capacity going forward.” [The A.V. Club]

Comics | Dorian Wright offers some gift-giving recommendations. []



Appreciate the Brenda Starr kudos, but that was CBR’s own Kiel Phegley, not me

Thanks for the shout out!

I first met Dale at a Chicago ComiCon, at the Pick-Congress. I had a VW Beetle and was parked nearby, but inside the show, I bought a colored Sunday strip from her and had a good conversation with her. Outside, she was hoping for a cab that wasn’t anywhere near, so I offered, and gave, Dale Messick a ride. That was the start of a brief but significant relationship until her move to the coast.

THe passing of BRENDA STARR is fitting: continuity comic strips are dead. Sorry to my friends in the medium, but the Trib’s the villain here, not the public. The daily papers reduced strips to a thumbnail, and artwork for beautiful strips like Rick O’Shay got wiped out when the fine lines couldn’t reproduce. That was because of paper prices, we heard, but really, it was to fatten the bottom line of publishers who cut the cords to high-priced artists.

And the years following the passing of the legends like Chester Gould and Harold Grey saw second-rate attempts at screwing with great creations. Dick Tracy today is miserable, and don’t get me started on ANNIE. Guys like Will Eisner are probably glad to be dead rather than fold to today’s imbecilic restrictions. In 2011, newspaper publishers are rich and without editorial professionalism. Not all, but most. I’ve yet to find anyone today among newspaper publishers who know how, and what, to publish successfully. Can we believe that a giant like Brenda Starr’s owners, the Tribune Syndicate, can’t syndicate their own work? Of course, the grand old dailies have also fired many of their great writers as well. At that rate, even Jesus Christ couldn’t rate a letter on an op-ed page. Comic strips don’t have a chance.

We’ll miss what Brenda Starr was, not what she is. I truly miss the wonder and innocent fun of waiting for Sunday papers and studying the work of so many great artists and writers. Today, a Sunday BRENDA strip is 6 to 8 panels, and any storytelling is simply impossible. If anyone publishes a weekly print edition of real comic strips, I’m so subscribing.

Can we get June Brigman back at Marvel now? New Power Pack series? I miss those clean lines.

Leave a Comment


Browse the Robot 6 Archives