Dale Messick: A Comic Strip Life
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Some feminists balk at Brenda falling for the Mystery Man. Courtesy of Jackie Leger © Dale Messick.

A Lasting Legacy
Today, Brenda Starr has been taken over by Ramona Fradon who had her first comic job at DC Comics working on male action heroes like Batman and Superman. She replaced Messick in 1980, upon her retirement. Women in comics need a forthright and enduring spirit and while Dale's comic strips were never made into animated films, two feature films based on Brenda Starr, one for ABC starring Jill St. John and another produced by New World starring Brooke Shields, were made.

What Granny Glamour says goes! Courtesy of Jackie Leger © Dale Messick.

Looking back on her long career, Dale's content with her success yet regrets that she's still not 100% accepted by her male counterparts. She paved the way for the new generation of action heroine strips yet male comics still rule. When asked about the key to her success, she says that she never copied other comics but tried to use her own imagination in all her stories. Her method of working was dedication and she still receives fan mail from her readers, who are mostly female fans. In the cast with Brenda Starr was the Mystery Man, Basil St. John, whom she eventually wed to an array of newspaper articles and national hoopla. Brenda Starr became a role model for a generation of young female readers inspired to enter the newspaper field or pursue independent careers. For this, Dale Messick will always be remembered.

In our last interview, Dale mentioned that she always wanted to be somebody, to be recognized. She has achieved this goal. Hard work has always been her formula for success, and at age 94, her life is far from boring. She showed me the gym where she works out and gave me a Christmas card with a photograph of herself on a brand new Harley. "It's not mine," she laughed! Back at the drawing board, her strip for seniors is gaining popularity. Dale Messick is truly a pioneer and inspiration for woman cartoonists everywhere.

Jackie Leger is a Santa Monica, California-based writer specializing in independent animation.

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