Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ace Reporter, Brenda Starr, Investigates The Toonseum

For 70 years, Dale Messick's Brenda Starr graced the funny pages of America's finest newspapers. Now she'll be gracing the walls of Pittsburgh's Toonseum. Director Joe Wos and staff are bringing the ravishing redhead to Pittsburgh in an exhibit of Messick's art that includes rare, "pre-Brenda" strips, vintage ads and an intact storyline from the 1965-66 run of the strip.

A pioneer in the industry, Messick's given name was Dahlia but she changed it to Dale after having her comic strip rejected by syndicates on the basis that she was a woman. Seriously. Joke's on those old codgers, I guess, since Messick eventually became one of the most influential and popular cartoonists in the world.

The Toonseum's Brenda Starr: The Art of Dale Messick exhibit will run from March 11th to April 23rd. As well, in honor of National Women's Month and the Brenda Starr exhibit, the ToonSeum will also be presenting a host of lectures and screenings focused on women and female characters in comics, including Messick, Brenda-expert Trina Robbins, Mary Blair, and Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As usual, check the Toonseum website for details and times.

Oh, and don't worry. My goofy illustration of Brenda Starr matching wits with evil museum director Joe Wos isn't part of the exhibit. That's just something I did for fun. If you're interested in how I put it together, I've included some work-in-progress steps below. But to really get a sense of how sinister Joe Wos is, you'll have to visit him in person at the Toonseum.

1) Sketched out the original gag in pencil

2) Moved some elements around and inked it in Photoshop

3) Dropped in some basic colors in Photoshop

4) Aged the image a bit by tinting it yellow and throwing a half-tone texture on it. See you downtown. -v

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