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Exhibition Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages

Landmark Adventure and Romance Strip

Dale (Dalia) Messick (1906–2005). Brenda Starr. “Ha! I Guess I'll Always Have This Inner Excitement as I Approach a New Assignment—Especially One of this Kind!” May 17, 1958. Ink, graphite, and colored pencil. Gift/purchase, 2001. Art Wood Collection of Caricature and Cartoon, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (012.00.00) Used by Permission. © 2019 Tribune Content Agency, Llc.

Landmark Adventure and Romance Strip

The first appearance of Brenda Star, Reporter by Dale Messick in 1940 marked a milestone for leading female characters in comics and for female cartoonists. Here, Starr, a worthy female counterpart of male heroes in adventure strips, enthuses and speculates over her new assignment. Messick builds suspense by first engaging viewers with her heroine’s reflections, then shifts to the mysterious, unconscious Miss Welsly who holds a secret. Messick’s strip ran in 250 newspapers at its peak.

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